I was told the other day that redheads do not generally get bitten by mosquitos or flies of any kind - and being the positive and proud paleo that I am, immediately thought, "Hmmmm, cavemen didn't get bitten either" (having been sure I read somewhere that natives do not generally fall victim to malaria or dengue fever until modern foods are introduced into their lives - I think it was in Weston Price's 'Nutrition and Physical Degeneration').
So, happily I went and sat by our local outdoor pool and chewed on a piece of meat thinking, 'ha ha, no flies on me' and promptly came home with two huge horsefly bites on my rear end and thigh.
Has anyone any thoughts on this? Any foods we should be avoiding especially - like salt? Any supplements that we should be taking? Any natural remedies for after-bite care?
your thoughts greatly appreciated.......
asked byLouisa (7073)
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on June 30, 2010
at 10:24 PM
I eat a very healthy diet and get bitten by every passing blood sucking insect. A friend of mine eats mostly pasta, toast and pizza never gets bitten at all. I have a theory that the insects like the nutrient rich blood to drink :P
More seriously many factors including individual genetics probably play a larger role in who gets bitten. Also you usually only know if you have been bitten my your immune response causing a red swelling and itching. People who do not respond often do not know they have been bitten at all. I do not think any food or supplements could have much impact.
Regarding your first point:
Cavemen certainly got bitten along with every other warm blooded animal with a thin enough skin. The reason native peoples, such as in parts of Africa, appeared less affected by diseases like malaria is that they are exposed as young children. Many of them die as children from it and the survivors gradually aquire more resistance through adolescence from repeated episodes of sickness, however this resistance is rarely complete and it still kills at any age. Europeans visiting for the first time had no immunity as adults. The malnutrition that could result from switching to cheap imported foods would certainly lower resistance as it will to any disease.
Malaria itself may have been with us as long as we have been around and has almost certainly been killing humans for that long. Malaria is only spread my mosquitoes so are ancestors were being bitten. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100617120718.htm
Dr Francois Balloux from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Outbreak Analysis and Modelling at Imperial College London was lead researcher on the project. He said: "Most recent work to understand how malaria has spread across the tropics has worked on the premise that the disease arose alongside the development of agriculture around 10,000 years ago. Our research shows that the malaria parasite has evolved and spread alongside humans and is at least as old as the event of the human expansion out of Africa 60-80,000 years ago."
on June 27, 2010
at 07:32 PM
LOL I'm pretty sure the red-headed thing is an Old Wives' Tale. Redheads are no different from anyone except in their ability to efficiently produce melanin.
I think native populations DO get bitten and our paleo ancestors did as well. I HAVE noticed that my children, who go minimally clothed all over our farm from the moment the weather allows it, get bitten much less than my hubs and I do.
I wonder if their good base tans is the cause? More resistance built up over time? Thicker skin? I dunno.
Great question, BTW!
on June 29, 2010
at 11:37 AM
It's quite possible to develop a tolerance for mosquito saliva, to the point where bites no longer irritate you. I'm pretty much at that point; I rarely get any swelling/itching at bite sites anymore.
So just spend time outdoors, let yourself get bitten, and over time you'll notice that the bites don't bug you anymore. This may take a while.
Black flies, OTOH? Hate the little bastards. They actually slice off a bit of skin. You just don't get used to that. And deer flies are the same, although they're more of an irritant from the endless buzzing around your head that they do before biting...
on June 27, 2010
at 07:07 PM
I've heard that vinegar can help with mosquito bites, but not sure on horseflies. I hadn't ever heard that natives avoided being bitten through diet, but many groups do have their own repellent solutions. Plant extracts, oils and smoke are all used in various cultures, so there must be some risk of biting to generate the need for repellents.
on June 29, 2010
at 12:57 PM
It makes more sense to me that malaria (et al) did not exist or was not a problem for cavemen rather than to suggest that they did not get bitten at all. Wild animals seem to be aggravated by flies and mozzies all the time, and if they're eating their ancestral diet I can't see why humans would have been exempt. More likely, I think, a paleodiet makes for better health to ward off bug-borne diseases (like Lyme's) and the lack of large concentrations of human and domesticated animal populations make the likelihood of such a transmission rarer.
on June 28, 2010
at 08:05 PM
Susceptibility to mosquito bites seems to be strongly genetic. Steroids and cholesterol on the skin, uric acid, lactic acid, and carbon dioxide all attract them. See here.
I seem to have the "bite me" profile, and one of my sons shares it. My diet doesn't seem to help or hinder so far.
on June 28, 2010
at 05:15 PM
It's funny how many different theories there are... I've heard for ages that it's about vit. B levels, I remember my Mom was telling me to take extra vit.B complex before summer, that the mosquitoes (no idea about flies) don't like the taste/smell of blood with higher levels of this vitamin...
But I also remember something about pheromones and that the levels of them decide if insects are interested in you or not. So, there more bitten= the more sexy ;-)
as I've been always rarely bitten I will go with the first theory :D
on July 13, 2011
at 05:59 AM
Im a redhead, and so are four of my siblings, and mesquitos don't bother us. It's now July and I do not have one bite, but as for my son and his cousins they get eaten alive. I've been told that there is something in a redhaeads blood that the mesquitos don't like.
on June 29, 2010
at 06:52 AM
hmm, interesting. None of my family are redheads, but my girls and I get bitten regularly while my husband does not. I can't imagine it being a sex thing and we all eat lots of garlic which doesn't seem to help, so I've come to theorize that it's a blood type rhesus factor(RH) thing. Hubby is the only one who is RH-.