hunter-gatherers

And, I don’t mean Grandma’s cookbooks!!  But, weren’t her brownies, cookies and bread the best?

When I speak about ancestors, I am talking a while back (think 10,000 years or even more).  I will not go into an ‘evolution vs. creationist’ argument here – because I think that ALL of us will agree that how we live now, is different from how we lived in the past.

Ten thousand years ago – agriculture was first developed. But, before that, we were considered ‘hunter-gatherers’ who lived in harsh environments (running to catch prey – and – running to stop from being prey – talk about ‘High Intensity exercise’); who ate a different way (based on what they caught and what they could forage); and their sleep pattern was dictated by the sun and moon.

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Even then, they were able to have babies and their societies continued to develop.  It was ‘survival of the fittest’ and natural selection weeded out the genetic attributes that could not adapt.

And, through many years of life this way – their genes, which were passed down to us – worked to make them strong and allowed them to thrive.

My point is this – genetic changes take time – well over 10,000 years (think more like a million years). So, we share much of the same genetic material as our ancestors did.  We respond to the same stimuli – exercise, food, sleep, and our environment in the same way! These people were healthy – and yes, they did die comparatively younger – but, that is what happens if you need to protect yourself from the elements – and, lions with teeth!

Yet, if you look anthropologically – our ancestors did well when you look at their overall health.  Diabetes was lower, cancer was not as common (based on bone analysis and other genetic analysis), and obesity was rare – if at all present.  All this, while eating a higher fat diet! Meat, fish, nuts, eggs, insects (no – I have no recipes for insects).

Now, we come to a screeching halt when early man started to raise grains. 

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Let’s look at early agricultural societies and we will use Egypt as an example. These people were less muscular, and shorter than earlier hunter-gatherers.  Now, with that said – this could have been a genetic difference that caused this difference.  But, the archeological evidence does not show this to be true.

Something that the Egyptians did made a difference in how their bodies developed.

What they did stopped them from thriving.

So, what could that be? Well, we alluded to the dietary change.  First, the threat of starvation decreased. Yet, they still exercised –  there were no threshing machines in those days.

But, at the same time – they no longer needed to hunt for food to the same extent – so other movement slowed. Which means that the periodic ‘high intensity’ exercise went by the wayside. They also may have decreased the foraging. As Dr. Jared Diamond (from UCLA) states that this change was “the worst mistake in the history of the human race”.  It changed our epigenetics (read yesterday’s post on epigenetics)

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Now, fast forward to an Alvin Toffler ‘Future Shock’.  (Oh, am I dating myself with this reference – it was required reading in my high school Computer Science class.)

Except – Toffler wasn’t discussing our health – just our adaptation to technology. For those of us who remember rotary dial telephones (and, dare I say ‘party lines’), we didn’t have computers or ‘blue light’ devices,  and playing outside until dinner (guys, it was not that long ago – maybe 45 years ago).

Now –  today – our fingers still ‘do the walking’ but, now our major exercise is texting.  We rarely get out of our chairs; we read our tablets or surf the net until bedtime, and our childrens’ idea of exercise is Pokemon-Go.

pokemon go

I love technology – don’t get me wrong.  But, I think that our brains have more rapidly adjusted to the technological changes – and, our body and all the beautiful capabilities that it encompasses, has are compromised.

We will address this tomorrow….

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