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With the Hayfever season rapidly approaching, allergies seem like the perfect topic for this week’s blog post. 
 
Turn the clock back 10 or 15 years and allergies were rarely mentioned. Yet in the last decade or so, they’ve become increasingly common. It’s estimated that one in four people in the UK will suffer from an allergy at some time in their lives. And the number affected seems to be rising every year. 
 
Do an internet search and you’ll find a truly bizarre list of allergies. Some are well known. Pollen and Hayfever. Dust and Asthma. Peanuts. Yeast. Milk – or more accurately, lactose. Others less so. False nails. Adhesive tape. Avocados. And our favourite, squirrel fur, which begs the question of how on earth researchers discovered this one! 
If this sounds like a rather odd question, it isn’t meant to be. Nor is there a “right” answer. As always, all we want to do is get you thinking! 
 
If you still suspect that it may be a trick question, let’s put it a different way. Have you noticed how the modern world focuses on stuff?  
 
On all the things you MUST HAVE to be able to function in this high tech – and image conscious – world of ours. If you’re in any doubt, just look at the adverts on the television or in the papers. 
 
Whether it be the latest clothes, car or mobile phone, the message is the same. If you’re not keeping up with it all, then somehow there’s something wrong with you. 
 
Sadly, it’s easiest to see in children, with countless stories of bullying of those who don’t keep up with the latest fashions. Peer pressure at its worst. 
In the first part of this occasional series, we focussed on antibiotics and the most common – but least recognised – source of them. The food we eat. 
 
Today we keep the spotlight on food, but from a slightly different perspective. The chemicals conventional farmers rely on to produce it. 
 
The farming we’re familiar with today – large fields of identikit crops – is a very recent phenomenon, dating back to the 1940’s and 1950’s. It relies heavily on chemicals – generically known as pesticides – to address every threat a crop may to face. Weeds competing for space and resources. Insects damaging or eating it. Plant diseases affecting yield or making the crop unsaleable. 
Over recent years, sugar has been portrayed as public enemy number one. More addictive than cocaine. Linked to many health problems, particularly the increase in diabetes and insulin resistance in children and young adults. To be avoided at all costs. 
 
But is it really that simple? If you‘re a regular reader of this blog, you won’t be surprised to hear that the answer is no (!); so let’s take a closer look at sugar. 
 
We love asking people questions about things they take for granted. Watching their faces as they think about something for the first time. 
It’s interesting how often this topic comes up with clients. And, here on the blog too. 
 
It seems that there are so many reasons not to be happy these days. Not only in the papers or news. Just watch your favourite soap opera. Or listen to the conversations going on around you. 
 
Added to this, there’s our very English affliction. The belief that it’s perfectly acceptable to be miserable now in the expectation that when X happens in the future – whatever X is – then we’ll suddenly be happy. Whether it be the latest must have gadget, a new house, losing weight or the love of your life. 
Milk is such an integral part of most people’s diets, it feels almost like heresy to ask whether it really is a good thing for us. And, interestingly, we have exactly that response from some patients when we ask this question. 
 
However that’s exactly what we’re going to do this week. So, get ready for a different take on our obsession with all things dairy. 
 
So let’s go back to the beginning and ask a couple of really easy questions. 
Have you noticed that people are always in search of a quick fix to any problem they may have in life? 
 
Whether it be a physical ailment, state of mind or that one thing which would make their life “perfect”, their requirements are the same. A “magic pill” – or technique – which will transform their lives in the blink of an eye. And preferably without too much effort on their behalf. 
 
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the personal development world. Now if you’re one of those people that the mere mention of “personal development” gets your hackles up, just bear with us. We’re not advocating navel gazing or the “peace and love man” approach, but a much more down to earth approach to life. 
Scarcely a day seems to go past without some reference to the latest health concern in the press. Diabetes. Obesity. Cholesterol. High blood pressure. ADHD. Sadly these are just a few examples. The list is a long one and getting longer by the day. 
 
Whichever problem is under the spotlight, the process seems to be the same. Experts are tasked with pinpointing THE cause.  
 
Treatments and medications are specifically developed for it. Lobby and patient groups are set up to bring it to people’s attention. 
And in all this minutiae, the bigger picture is missed. The common links running through so many of our modern health problems. 
We’ve always loved bizarre facts and snippets of information, particularly if they fly in the face of accepted wisdom. Even better if they get the old grey cells working as well. 
 
Some relate to the world around us. Others are health related. But our favourite are those about how our minds work. Or, in some cases, don’t work (!). 
 
And, even more so, people’s reactions to these new insights. Into what goes on between their ears. Well, not always between their ears, but that’s definitely a subject for another day! 
 
What fascinates us is that people tend to assume they know exactly what’s going on in their heads. And that they are fully in control of it. Oh, and it’s the same for everyone. 
As traditional as the Christmas festivities, breaking of new year’s resolutions (!) and January blues; is the upswing in coughs and colds as soon as everyone gets back to their normal routine. 
 
Every January, around this time, we hear people making the same comments over and over again. About all the bugs doing the rounds. How generous people are in passing them on. And how bugs are “lurking out there” – wherever “there” is – just waiting to get them. 
 
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