Thursday, March 17, 2016

Nietzsche's Peanuts

Exposure to the potentially deadly, it turns out, is the better way to go. ("That which does not kill us makes us stronger.")

Food allergies are exploding today, and the cause is unknown. There are a few as-yet unproven theories as to the why, but in terms of how to prevent or treat them, exposure is key.
In "Letter of Recommendation," Marnie Hanel hails Bamba. 
One night last summer, around 3 a.m., I was reading on my iPhone while nursing, and I came across a study led by a pediatric allergy specialist named Gideon Lack. He had noticed that Israeli Jews were much less likely to be plagued by peanut allergies than their British counterparts, and he sought an environmental explanation. It didn’t take long for him to land at the high chair. Lack and his colleagues designed a longitudinal study, feeding small amounts of Bamba to babies at high risk for developing an allergy (and none to a control group) from the time they began eating finger foods until they turned 5, ulti­mately finding that the snack reduced their risk by 81 percent.
Upon reading this, I proceeded to do what any literal-minded new parent might do in the middle of the night: I opened the Amazon app and ordered Bamba in bulk. . . 
(Until as recently as 2008, parents were advised to avoid feeding peanuts to at-risk kids until age 3.) In doing everything they could to protect their children, they instead made their children more vulnerable.
Today's parents, it would seem, are terrified their children should suffer any sort of upset, the physical to mental. I've now heard of mothers of dating-age children wanting guarantees that the lined-up guy or gal won't reject their children; as stated above, in their eagerness to protect, they make them more vulnerable. How can a person be expected to be ready for marriage yet still need to be shielded from rejection? C'mon, moms, there is no chance at happiness without risk!

But I digress. We're talking about peanuts. 

Current therapy for children with extreme cases of deadly food allergies involve gradual, microscopic doses progressing to amounts that can be tolerated ("The Allergy Buster" by Melanie Thernstrom). Like iocane powder, wink wink. It's called "desensitization."

I have the same approach to germs; I frolic barefoot in grass, and if doing any gardening I plunge my hands fearlessly into dirt. I carefully avoid antibiotic soap, opting for non-nuking suds. Nothing that claims to "sterilize" is welcome. 

For whatever reason it is, germs are welcome to dinner.        

1 comment:

Daniel Saunders said...

It's similar with mental health, for OCD and phobias at least. Exposure therapy exposes the sufferer to their fears until the fear subsides. (I deleted the previous comment because on reflection my example wasn't accurate. The kashrut obsessive is exposed to things that he wrongly fears are treif, not actual treif.)