Wednesday, May 16, 2012

No Food Allergy or Coeliac Disease in Fiji

With Coeliac Disease and allergies to food, nuts, plants and dairy on the increase in nearly every Western country, why is the tiny South Pacific island of Fiji not as affected? The descendants of this ancient Polynesian/Melanesian race are baffled when they meet tourists who cannot eat bread, wheat, gluten, nuts or even some fruits. "You are allergic to food? We can eat everything here!" is the common response. The answer is simple. Genetics and a prevalence of wild foods in their traditional diet.

Up until very recently, not a lot was known about the origins of the native Fijian people. Most scholars agree that they probably settled on the islands some 3500 years ago from a Polynesian race who originally left their homelands thousands of years prior in South East Asia. But geneticists and anthropologists from around the world believe recent discovery of fossils unearthed in the Siberian Denisova cave in 2008 and genome studies of modern Melanesians in Fiji, propose an evolutionary new theory on who the ancient ancestors of the native Fijian people were. Although modern humans, the homosapien, are the only surviving members of hominoids that walked the earth tens of thousands of years ago, analysis of fossil remains now show other now-extinct human groups once lived alongside our ancestors, including Neanderthals, an as-yet-unnamed third lineage recently discovered in Africa and a fourth race who had an evolutionary history distinct from all - the Denisovans. Evolutionary geneticist at Harvard Medical School, Professor David Reich, and molecular anthropologist Professor Mark Stoneking at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, used state-of-the-art genome analysis to confirm that present-day Melanesians, including native Fijians, have between 4-6% of the same genomes as the extinct Denisovan race. The team of scientists confirmed that Denisovans must have roamed widely, from Siberia to tropical Southeast Asia as they left a genetic footprint not only in present-day Melanesia, but also Borneo, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Polynesia.

According to immunologist Professor Robert Anderson at Australia's The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, "It would be surprising to find Coeliac disease in Melanesian Fijians, but not at all uncommon in Indian Fijians as North Indians do have HLA DQ2 quite commonly".

The genes that are susceptible to the synthetic proteins found in GM wheat, barley and rye are found in most Caucasians is what is triggering an alarming rate of this autoimmune disease. But whilst the descendants of the native Fijian's are somewhat protected against CD, they are just as susceptible to the insulin-causing carbohydrates found in wheat and the synthetic compounds found in processed oils. They are dying of diseases caused by a change in diet and lifestyle - the Western life.

So here's a thought.

If most Western people always had those susceptible genes HLA DQ2 and D8, and an increasingly number of us are now developing an autoimmune response and an intolerance to adulterated foods, isn't our body and mother nature trying to tell us that something is wrong with our food? Lucky for the native Fijian, they are genetically protected against the autoimmune disorders caused by their ancestral cousins. For the rest of us, we are what we eat.

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