Late Life Benefits of the Paleo-Diet.
Author: Peter Turchin
Source: Social Evolution Forum
One way people talk about the price of civilization is in terms of evolutionary mismatch (which is one of the focus areas at the Evolution Institute
). The idea is that our bodies and minds evolved during the Pleistocene, when we lived in small groups of hunter-gatherers. Now we live in a dramatically different environment, and that causes all kinds of problems. The psychological aspect of the problem was recently discussed by Robin Dunbar and commentators on his Focus Article. The physiological problems include rampant obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
There is currently no consensus on the role of changing diet and other aspects of lifestyle, most notably exercise, in causing modern-day health problems. Some people argue that our Plestocene bodies are not adapted to high-calorie diets and sedentary life-styles of today. On the other hand, agriculture was invented roughly 10,000 years ago. 400 generations is not an insignificant length of time for evolution to do its thing. Some anthropologists (including another participant of the Consilience conference, Henry Harpending
) argue that humans evolved very intensively during this period. One famous example is the evolution of lactose tolerance, that is, ability to digest milk.
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