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Survival of the Sickest — Review
|by Shernaz Wadia|
Survival of the Sickest? The title makes you blink...did I read correctly or is this a huge misnomer? Yes, you read it right and the title is not a misnomer. It is not an attention getter either. As you progress through the book you truly appreciate that to call this “a mind-blowing book” is an understatement! Not encrusted in professionally grandiloquent language, it comes through as a witty, reader friendly book, for lay people.
This is a book about mysteries and miracles. About medicine and myth. About cold iron, red blood and neverending ice... Welcome to our magical, medical mystery tour.
In this magical, medical mystery tour we become Alice in the wonderland of biological evolution. Launched into a maze of theories and hurtling through the findings revealed in this book, we are disposed to turning a bold, new gaze on evolutionary history and are dumbfounded by a mindboggling fact — most conditions that we term diseases today, were actually survival tactics for our ancestors! A creative nonfiction thriller is what I call this book...a myth breaker that trips up the existing mental circuit of what we believe we know about illness; it catapults us into a startlingly new approach to the human body, diseases and evolution with an almost philosophical and reverential view of our inter-connectedness to the tiniest living organisms on this earth. Giving us an insight into how little modern medical science really comprehends human health, this book addresses staggering questions such as :
What helped our ancestors survive the bubonic plague of Europe? Was it a deadly genetic disease called hemochromatosis – a hazardous accumulation of iron in the body? How? The ambiguity is explained in ‘Ironing It Out’ [Chapter I]
Did lifestyle diseases like diabetes evolve as a response to the last Ice Age? The answer to this intriguing question is to be found in ‘A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Temperature Go Down’[Chapter II]
How and to whom can G6PD deficiency be beneficial? How impactful is plant evolution on us and our relationship with plants?
“Eat your vegetables. Your vegetables can kill you” says the author. “Mother Nature is sending mixed messages again. The truth – as you’ve no doubt gathered – is complicated. Many plant toxins can be good for us. The trick is understanding how they work, how we work, and how it all works together.” Hey, Bud, Can You Do Me a Fava? [Chapter IV]
Would you believe that microorganisms actually control the hosts(human included) they inhabit? This chapter takes us on an incredible jaunt into some chic scheming methods devised by viruses and bacteria! “Nature abounds with examples of host manipulation; generally – no big surprise here – they involve a critical step in the parasite’s efforts to reproduce.” Of Microbes and Men [Chapter V]
In addition to its eight chapters, not including the introduction and conclusion, the readers get a bonus treat of insights, interviews and more of the author in P.S. Fifteen pages to get to know the author better. In ‘A Conversation with Sharon Moalem’, asked why he wrote this book(Pg.7), the author says, “One of the reasons I wanted to write this book was to get people to step back and ask some basic questions pertaining to the origins of disease. This can only be done once you acknowledge the true degree of interconnectedness of life on earth...” This is biological interconnectedness that we read about here. Ancient spiritual wisdom of indigenous peoples also lays stress on the interconnectedness of all that is in the universe. Can there be a meeting point of the two?
Survival of the Sickest
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04/30/2014 22:28 PM
04/30/2014 12:28 PM
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