Allergies, an Evolutionary Adaptation?

Allergies, an Evolutionary Adaptation?

Group 1

Consider a relatively geographically closed group of people (e.g. Nepalese Mountain People) that have an adaptation to high altitudes and specialized available foods.

What if:

 In order to adapt more fully, a gene allows extra oxygen flow (Oxy101), or higher oxygen content in the blood. For these people, the adaptation is gradual and allows longer and higher treks into the mountains to further establish their farmlands.

Group 2

Consider a second group, Lowland Indians, that have a tolerance adaptation to sub tropical semi-poisonous legumes (e.g. peanuts).
Because they live in lowlands, the same gene (Oxy101) may have adapted to maintain an oxygen flow in the presence of a constrictive poison (peanuts).

Results of Migration

If Group 2 people migrate to the Highlands, they are breathless, as their Oxy101 gene is adapted to protect against peanuts. Many generations of successful adaptation would be required to allow a Lowlander to live effectively in the Highlands.
Conversely, If Group 1 people migrate to the Lowlands, their Oxy101 adaptation is counter productive as they may now have access to Lowland foods (peanuts). Even with increased potential Oxygen intake, these people may succumb to anaphylaxis. 

Drawing a longer bow.

Perhaps Allergies are a designed as a natural restriction that maintains a population within its adaptive food region. Slow (generational) migration allows for the re-adaptation, but the apparent current increase in reported Allergies could be attributed to the rapid (non generational) transport of people across differing adaptation zones.

A Nepalese can now travel to the peanut farms in Southern Alabama inside 24 hours, a trip that probably took his ancestors more like 24 generations. While that Nepalese may not be allergic to peanuts, he also may not carry the peanut protection version of the Oxy101 gene. He may also be mildly allergic to the leaves or pollen and instead of full anaphylaxis, may exhibit symptoms of skin rashes or asthma.

As foods are transported beyond their natural climatic boundaries and also hothouse grown, modern man demands a wider variety. Modern man is also travelling to different regions, beyond their climatic and adaptive food availability zone.

Stretching results

Perhaps the mechanism of ‘Allergy’ is the warning that this ‘Group’ is attempting to adapt to a new (food or climatic) environment too quickly. Man is known to be the most adaptive creature, but that is based on hundreds or thousands of generations, not based on an individual.

Postscript:

As anyone in the Genetic and Human Sciences will have already understood, I have a Doctorate in Ignorance, and my studies of Genetics have never progressed beyond this single thought…. But it’s still a thought….
– Beau

 

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