In a recent NYT opinion piece about gluten, the author ends with the following advice: Maybe we should stop asking what’s wrong with wheat, and begin asking what’s wrong with us. Turns out, this, in part, could be due to the amount of poo we breathe, swallow, let seep into our pores.
There’s a town called Karelia, which is bisected by Finland and Russia. People with celiac- associated genes are prevalent on both sides of the border there, and both populations eat similar amounts of wheat. The interesting thing is, celiac disease is almost five times as common on the Finnish side compared with the Russian. The same holds for other immune-mediated diseases, including Type 1 diabetes, allergies and asthma. All occur more frequently in Finland than in Russia.
WHAT’S the difference? The Russian side is poorer; fecal-oral infections are more common. Russian Karelia, some Finns say, resembles Finland 50 years ago. Evidently, in that environment, these disease-associated genes don’t carry the same liability.
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