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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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October 28, 2010

Just How Long Did Grok Live, Really?

By Mark Sisson
108 Comments

It has become an article of faith among, well, basically everyone, that our ancestors lived short, brutal lives. What are they touting as the average lifespan these days – 35 years old or so? I’ve heard anything between 25 and 40 years. The common counter is that infant mortality rates were higher than they are today, thus skewing the average. It’s also often pointed out that a relatively benign accident or illness by today’s standards – a broken arm, a rolled ankle, or a minor infection – could have prematurely ended Grok’s life. And that these cases say nothing about Grok’s potential to live 70+ years. The “short and brutal” meme has wedged itself in the public psyche, and it’s going to take a lot to extract it from its seemingly intractable position.

I’m going to riff a bit on something I’ve been thinking about regarding ancient human bones. This isn’t an official stance or anything; I’m just thinking out loud. Let me know what you think in the comment board.

Now, bones are notoriously confusing, especially when we’re trying to figure out the age of the individual who died. We learn a lot from studying them, but only to a point. Just how do forensic anthropologists determine the age of death of a particular skeleton’s former owner?

For skeletons of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults, fossil analysis yields accurate age of death estimates. Human growth is fairly reliable for a while, and it’s easy enough to tell a kid apart from a really short adult, but things get tough once people stop growing and become adults. In fact, anthropologists have typically had trouble accurately determining the precise age of death for older adult remains. They’ll even tell you this. They can’t rely on the same methods and must turn to others.

One method is to measure bone mineral density, especially of the femur. It’s a general rule that bone density decreases with age. It’s a pretty accurate method for determining the age of death in modern people, but I’m skeptical of its utility when dealing with the bones of our ancestors. Even its proponents admit that while general age and sex-related trends can be observed for bone loss, there have been cases of “young adult” bone density patterns in skeletons of aged individuals. That is, bone density degradation is not linear, and it’s not set in stone. Instead, it depends on “numerous genetic, environmental, and cultural factors.” Old guys can have young guy bones, but it’s rare. Most modern old guys have old guy bones.

What kind of environmental factors can influence bone density – can give old guys young bones? Remember, environmental factors include anything that the organism interacts with, and as far as bone health, diet, activity level, and micronutrient intake are some of the big ones.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D status is a strong predictor of osteoporosis risk. Folks deficient in vitamin D tend to have lower bone mineral densities and are at a higher risk for breaks and fractures. If you slather on sunscreen, avoid the sun, avoid pastured animal organs and fatty fish, and do not supplement with vitamin D3, like most modern humans, you are most likely deficient and at risk for low bone density. Paleolithic humans, on the other hand, did not sit in offices all day shielded by windows that blocked UVB rays, nor did they wear sunscreen. They didn’t know about vitamin D, either, but they didn’t have to. They either spent most of their lives in sunny, tropical climates with plenty of UVB exposure, or, in the case of Europeans, had lighter skin selected for to ensure sufficient vitamin D synthesis from fewer UVB rays. They also ate plenty of animal foods, and they didn’t shy away from organ meat or fatty cuts. We don’t know exactly what our ancestors’ vitamin D statuses were, but we can surmise that, given their lifestyle, their exposure to the elements, and their diet, they probably had sufficient levels to avoid bone density deficiencies.

Magnesium

Although calcium gets all the press, magnesium is also vitally important for the building and maintenance of strong bones. In fact, serum magnesium levels are a strong predictor of bone mineral density. In “The Paleo Diet,” Dr. Loren Cordain estimates that the magnesium intake of Paleolithic humans ranged between 800 and 1,500 mg per day. Contrast that with the recommended daily intake of 400 mg and consider that very few people even reach that recommended amount – according to Cordain, 65% of the American population. If the average 55 year old American eats an inadequate amount of magnesium and sports a low serum level, while the average 55 year old Paleo (real Paleo, not one of you guys) ate plenty of magnesium and most likely had a high serum level, whose bones are going to be denser? Whose bones might an observer assume to be those of a younger man?

Resistance Training

Strength training builds muscles, but it also builds bones. Like muscles, bones are reactive things that respond to stress. When you lift heavy things, heavy enough to “threaten” your body, you are sending the message that the affected lean tissue must adapt. Muscles adapt by adding fibers; bones adapt by ossifying. Today’s sedentary populations are plagued with osteoporosis, partly because of nutritional deficiencies, but also because they are sedentary. Their bones, by and large, aren’t getting the stimulus required to maintain density. They don’t have to hunt, kill, and carry their food, nor do they have to build their domiciles. Heck, it isn’t even necessary to leave the house. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors, on the other hand, worked for their livelihoods. They were active by necessity; they lifted heavy things because their lives depended on it. Whose bones do you think would receive the stimulus necessary for maintaining density – the sedentary sitters or the active hunters?

The idea of strength training strengthening and fortifying bone is well supported in the literature. It’s true that some results have been mixed, but most reviews of the literature argue that the studies showing little effect employ insufficient intensity or improper training methods.

If anthropologists have included fossil bone density as a factor in their determination of age of death, I think the matter of vitamin D, magnesium, and resistance “training” (obviously, they weren’t lifting barbells in the Paleolithic, but they were certainly lifting heavy things, arguably at a greater intensity than many modern lifters) throws the popular notion of hunter gatherer’s lives being short and brutal into question. Were they shorter than ours? Yeah, on average. I’m not tossing everything out entirely. I’m just questioning whether modern bone density data are accurate reference points for analyzing the age of death of Paleolithic remains. It might be more accurate to simply say, “We don’t exactly know,” instead of tossing out the “cavemen died at 30!” knee-jerk response.

What if the dense bones of what appear to have been a robust 30-year old hunter were actually bones of an incredibly capable 60-year old?

Next time, I’ll discuss a paper that takes an in-depth look at hunter-gatherer ages. The results might pleasantly surprise you.

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108 Comments on "Just How Long Did Grok Live, Really?"

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Ahmed Serag
5 years 11 months ago

Definitely a compelling argument… but it doesn’t matter how long Grok lived (give me a sec)…

If you’re healthy eating the way you are now (no noticeable symptoms, blood work is great) the chances that you just tip over and pass away are very slim. The thing is we have the technology today to determine how healthy we are, and we can get a pretty good prediction of how long we’ll live based on that (sans non health related death).

Just my opinion.

Paul
Paul
5 years 10 months ago

You can’t tell when you will die. Having good health is beneficial in other ways, but if you are eating primal just so you can live longer, you are a bit naive. You could get hit by a meteor tomorrow, live, and then die from tripping over a rock for all you know. Look at Churchill, the ol’ bastard smoked, drank, and ate whatever he wanted. He lived deep into old age, didn’t he?

And it’s a good thing we can’t predict our deaths. Imagine the chaos if nearly 7 billion people all knew when their time was due.

Chad
Chad
5 years 10 months ago

The only way to prove anything is for people following the Primal lifestyle to submit their bodies to the same institution for research when they die. We will then have a somewhat controlled population that hopefully supports living primally.

Chauncey Mabe
5 years 10 months ago
1. The idea that Paleolithic people lived 35-40 years is based on the 35-40-year-life expectancy of people in early historic times. But I’ve read in books by mainstream scientists that people moving from HG to early urban environments experience a dramatic decline in longevity due to a) a less healthy grain-based diet; b) infectious diseases coming from close contact with domesticated animals; c) crowding, which facilitated the spread of those diseases. Also, Ootzi, the 5,300-year-old “Ice Man” discovered in an Alpine Glacier in 1993 is estimated to be about 45 years old — and a vigorous 45. He was fleeing… Read more »
Brian Kozmo
Brian Kozmo
5 years 10 months ago

Ötzi was discovered in 1991. And it has been determined that he had been very sick on and off again before his death.

Mark
Mark
5 years 10 months ago
I agree. I think this is a great and very valid argument at discounting the .. ahh.. well heck… the attack on the primal diet by claiming Grok only lived to 30 or 40 years of age. As demonstrated this attempt to discredit is based on an assumption that is without scientific fact. But what they are doing should be looked at for what it is. The primal diet is supported scientifically and research bears out the benefits. Any lawyer will tell you when the evidence is against you, your only defense is to discredit the witness. Mark, you should… Read more »
Alec
Alec
5 years 11 months ago

Fascinating though experiment Mark! It would be interesting to see bone density readings of current hunter-gatherer groups and compare to “expected” density readings for the same age. Also good to review modern hunter-gatherer lifespan- I expect it would be shorter than ancient grok lifespan as most modern hunter-gatherers are pushed into the worst landscapes left.

Aaron Blaisdell
5 years 11 months ago
The relationship between age and mortality likelihood is highly non-linear. As Nassim Taleb has argued over and over, including in his book The Black Swan, it is a sin to apply normative statistics (e.g., means and standard deviations) to non-linear data. Thus, even if the calculated mean or median life span is based on highly reliable raw data and methods, it is an irrelevant statistic at best and a misleading one at worst. Another thing anthropologists can do (and have done) is to sample the lifespan and health data from extant hunter-gatherer and foraging groups that still subsist in a… Read more »
Alex
Alex
5 years 11 months ago

“That is, bone density degradation is not linear, and it’s not set in stone.”

No pun intended?! I have to know!

Robert
Robert
5 years 11 months ago
There is a big difference between the terms life expectancy and life span. Life expectancy is an average that is greatly influenced by environmental circumstances. Anyone that has watched the Discovery channel knows that an animal that lives in the wild has to fight for its survival against difficult odds. The very young and the very old are especially vulnerable to this kind of harsh environment. For Paleolithic man it was no different. A higher death rate for the very young makes for a shorter life expectancy, but really says nothing about life span. Today, because of modern medicine, life… Read more »
Matt Lentzner
5 years 11 months ago

Good point about the difference between life expectancy and life span.

It should be noted that life expectancy in the US has hardly budged in the last few decades in spite of the impressive advances in medicine. We’re just barely treading water here.

It makes me wonder how long my children will live being raised Paleo and having the benefits of future medicine available to them.

Sanas
Sanas
5 years 11 months ago

Read “The Singularity is Near” for an answer to that question (“It makes me wonder how long my children will live being raised Paleo and having the benefits of future medicine available to them.”)

fitmom
fitmom
5 years 11 months ago

I think most people stick with primal because it makes us healthier by modern standards, and gives us a personal sense of well-being. It would be great if our ancestors thrived on this diet, too, but even if they lived on wonderbread and twinkies, I wouldn’t go back!

kem
kem
5 years 11 months ago
I did a back of the envelope calculation, assuming the “average” of 35 to be the mean. If you look at 100 hunter gatherers and assign 40 of them to die in infancy, say under 10 years, half of the surviving females to die from childbirth or violence by the age of thirty and half of the surviving males are killed by other males, you need to have some well aged indivduals to make the arithmetic work out. These figures are pretty rough but are representative of what I have read about this class of society. My calculations show that… Read more »
mannishboy
mannishboy
5 years 11 months ago

cool, man!

Matt Lentzner
5 years 11 months ago

I wonder if death in childbirth was really a common issue among hunter gatherers or if it’s an artifact of neolithic nutrition. I always hear apocryphal stories about hunter gatherer societies having easy births. They seem to just squat down and pop out the kid.

It makes sense to me that the poor bone formation seen with agricultural societies as documented by Price would extend to a lack of female hip development.

Anyone have any data on childbirth mortality for HG’s?

Sarah Matte
Sarah Matte
5 years 11 months ago
Death in childbirth in the neolithic era is also effected by the cultural changes to the practice: a woman being on her back versus squatting, the ‘medicines’ and other folk remedies developed that were actual hindrances to dilation, etc. Not to mention that once agriculture set in and life changed culturally there was a lean towards younger pregnancies than paleolithic man practiced (and thus what the body was designed for). Breastfeeding was also shortened and so more births = more complications. There is definitely a correlation with death in childbirth and nutrition, but these are also changes that were happening… Read more »
Beth
Beth
4 years 10 months ago
I don’t believe that childbirth was a main form of death for Grokettes. After a great deal of research I decided to go with a home birth for my second child with an experienced midwife and found that the greatest barrier to a safe and natural (as well as relatively painless) birth was fear and stress. My first birth was at a hospital. The body goes into flight, fight, or freeze mode when exposed to stressors (strangers, IVs, bright lights, strange environs.) In a safe environment with loving family and trusted midwives that you know well, care, and don’t change… Read more »
Miki
5 years 11 months ago

Gruven and Kaplan show, in a paper called “Longevity Among Hunter-Gatherers: A Cross Cultural Examination” that 2/3 of the HG live to be grandparents and live in that status for 20 years on average if the pass puberty. Chimpanzees live 3 times longer in captivity (food, saefty, medical care) while Americans live only 12% longer than HG.
Link: https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.anth.ucsb.edu/faculty/gurven/papers/GurvenKaplan2007pdr.pdf&pli=1

Jenny
Jenny
5 years 11 months ago

Nice citation for the topic, thanks!

Paul C
Paul C
5 years 11 months ago

Does any study discuss bone density among current hunter-gatherer populations? Somebody knows if 60 year old hunter gatherer bones look like 30 year old SAD eater bones. Wouldn’t that be a relatively easy thing to find out and be a solid clue one way or the other?

Jae
Jae
5 years 3 months ago
Unfortunately it is indeed significantly easier to determine age amongst youths archaeologically. You can do it with bone fusion levels, which isn’t so useful after maturity. You can also do it with tooth wear analyses, but Grok tended to use his/her teeth as multipurpose tools, the way we used to as kids before our parents yelled at us. Grok also would have often eaten things of a texture that isn’t equivalent to that of modern industrial diets, and tooth wear even in molars would have been different than ours today. Still, I think tooth wear analysis is most reliable so… Read more »
Jae
Jae
5 years 3 months ago

If you want an approximation of how old people would have lived in the Paleolithic, try looking at analogous ethnographic records of hunter gatherers in modern times.

primal tree top
primal tree top
5 years 11 months ago

Nice article but, I don’t think it matters how long they lived. It is hard to estimate how long they would have lived now if, they had kept their diet and work routine.
Eating better and so on will go a long way to make sure anyone lives a long and productive life.
But it is fun to see we might have lived way back when depending on where we are from. Is it me or do the studies tend to emphasize an European heritage. Just wondering about the acient Asian, Africain, Polanesian,and so on.

Matt Lentzner
5 years 11 months ago

Just looking around the office and the mall I rarely see anyone over 35 who has the physical wherewithal to survive as a HG. Degenerative disease has already set in big time for most.

So who has the shorter life expectancy when we start to compare apples to apples?

The counter point to make is that neolithic agriculturalists had much shorter lifespans than contemporary hunter gatherers.

Kelda
5 years 11 months ago

Fascinating stuff, I’ve always wondered about the accuracy of this kind of dating.

I think what really counts though isn’t the number of years you notch up but the quality of those years.

Give me shorter, healthy with a swift end than long, lingering degeneration any day of the week.

Aaron
Aaron
5 years 11 months ago

I wondering how Paleolithic peoples consumed 800mg to 1500mg of Magnesium everyday. A quick look at a list of foods high in Magnesium makes me think it wouldn’t have been easy.

How does Cordain come up with the 1500 number? What were these people eating? Pounds of almonds?

Benpercent
5 years 11 months ago

I second that question. I eat my dark greens and yet I still can hardly nick the edge of 400 mg of magnesium a day.

Primal Toad
5 years 11 months ago

I third that question. I never seem to eat enough Magnesium and am thus very curious as to how our paleolithic ancestors ate so much and what can us modern primal people eat to up our intake? Should we all be taking a magnesium supplement?

Erik
Erik
5 years 11 months ago

Have any of you tried counting the magnesium intake you get from your meat?

Eating plants is nice, but to get concentrated nutrients, let a friendly cow eat tons of the stuff for you and concentrate all those wonderful minerals in its own tissue for you to consume marinaded and rare.

StephenAegis
5 years 11 months ago

Tubers.

Curt
Curt
5 years 10 months ago
It would take 3 cups of a mix of equal parts almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds or 2 cups of just pumpkin seeds to provide 1500 mg of magnesium. That’s a lot of nuts. Alternatively, 10 cups of cooked spinach or swiss chard would provide the same amount. Considering that most HGs probably didn’t boil their greens, that’s a heck of a lot of food. Meat sources provide 20-30mg per serving (except for the richest meat source of magnesium, salmon, which provides 138 mg per serving). So supposing that a HG encountered a magnesium-optimum diet, he could eat 1… Read more »
Brian Kozmo
Brian Kozmo
5 years 11 months ago
A “quick look at a list of foods” isn’t good enough. You are surely looking at statistics of modern fruits and vegetables. The history of foods is actually quite interesting. Avocados, strawberries, blueberries, peanuts, tomatoes and potatoes, for example, all came from the Americas and wouldn’t have been available to Europeans in ancient times. Lettuce, onions, carrots (which were originally purple), and cucumber as well as oats and wheat come from the middle east, and apples, chicken, eggplant and coconut from Asia. Fruits and vegetables native to Europe are things I have never even eaten before.. blackcurrant, angelica, rapeseed, damsons,… Read more »
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moksha
moksha
5 years 11 months ago

Hi Mark – first time blogging on your **great** site –

Being currently immersed in the Weston Price book – especially regarding our dental woes in modern culture – am i right in assuming that age determination is also attempted via dental condition of the skeletons? and therefore, would not our CW bias that teeth simply and always decay attribute the presence of a good set of choppers to a younger being? WP found that this is definitely NOT so in more primal-eating cultures–

Patrick
Patrick
5 years 11 months ago
we could always argue the if’s, when’s, how’s etc, but in the end of the day we do not know. And does it matter? Not to me, I eat the way and live the way I do, because I like it and I feel great doing so. If Grok got 5 or 150 not matter to me. The argument about us living longer today is silly in my opinion as one part the people who live longer at present are coming from a healthier upbringing and surrounding, their kids, grandkids and so forth are getting weaker each generation do due… Read more »
Rich
Rich
5 years 11 months ago

Was thinking the other day.. no organisms are meant to live forever. There’d be no need to reproduce, no means for genetic strengthening of the organism, or evolution for that matter. Thinking about all the things we eat in that kill us (through cancer, for instance). Maybe it’s the way it’s meant to be.

Also wonder if our life expectancy will head downward in the future, due to obesity-related illnesses. Bet that’s a first for the human race!

Julie Aguiar
Julie Aguiar
5 years 11 months ago

If you think about it, the women were grandmas by what, age 30?

Jayant S
Jayant S
5 years 11 months ago

Just a thought on this – the best way to investigate Mark’s idea about delayed-onset bone weakening in prehistoric humans would be to compare bone strength between sedentary people and “Grok-like” modern humans. Parts of Himalayan India, for instance, still feature a diet which leans towards the primal, and heavy labour as a key activity. If bone strength is preserved longer in these people, it would be interesting to consider them as a “control set” to check fossil bones against.

Kelda
5 years 11 months ago

On the issue of starting to see humans live less long it is already happening; I’ve read that the current generation of children will be the first to be outlived by their parents (in terms of age at death). And as Professor Dawkins noted recently we are effectively devolving now that we control reproduction and treat many diseases we are circumventing the natural processes of evolution.

kem
kem
5 years 11 months ago

… and enough women had to live to about 50 for menopause to evolve. We are the only mammal to be selected for such a trait.

StephenAegis
5 years 11 months ago

!!!!!

Jenny
Jenny
5 years 11 months ago

Ooh, good point!

Brian Kozmo
Brian Kozmo
5 years 11 months ago

Even if the argument against Paleo dieters, that cave man lived to be 35, is used and were assumed correct, I don’t see how that’s an efficient argument because it relies on the assumption that living beyond 35 is a good thing – (not to mention the assumption that the diet played a roll at all in age). Of course every person on the planet wants to live to 90, but is an early death such a bad thing as we make it out to be?

Brian Kozmo
Brian Kozmo
5 years 11 months ago

Oh, one more point: when people talk about cave man, or the stone age period, that would include a timeframe of about 3,500 years ago, and not only 10,000. There’s a huge difference between paleo humans and stone-aged humans, which would also include such periods as the neolithic.

Aaron Curl
5 years 11 months ago

Bottom line: we live to long today! There are people kept alive by artificial means such as drugs. We are not a survival of the fittest culture. We are EXTREMELY overpopulated and I believe it’s because of the poor choices we make. Babies having babies….keeping murderers alive….big pharma drugs extending a week person alive. I realize I sound extreme but I believe it’s the truth. Any ecologist will tell you there are about 5 billion too many people on the earth.

Brian Kozmo
Brian Kozmo
5 years 11 months ago
I wouldn’t necessarily say we live too long. We are only kept alive by artificial means because of the western diseases that we have. If it weren’t for western diseases, meaning, if we still lived in the paleolithic period, we’d be living more than likely that long anyways. “Babies having babies”… I’m guessing that in the paleo period that humans were meant to have babies once females started ovulating, around age 12 on average (8-17). Why else would females start ovulation so early if it weren’t meant to keep the species alive? We humans are just overpopulated today because somebody… Read more »
moksha
moksha
5 years 11 months ago
The study that wacked me on the head was the one where you put 20 monkeys in a cage and give them 20 monkeys worth of food – what happens? population stays at about 20 monkeys give or take. put in 25 monkeys worth of food and guess what? same effect only opposite if you reduce to 15 monkeys worth of food – the populations will follow the available foodstuffs. pretty damning information w/regard to our so called “humanitarian” efforts to stop hunger by providing more food (and not some kind of intelligent, humane population control alongside…) ps – i… Read more »
Maxmilliana
Maxmilliana
5 years 11 months ago

Here’s a link to an interesting article regarding women in “foraging” societies. It indicates a later start to ovulation (around 16) and more pregnancies and longer breast feeding, resulting in much fewer menstruations, all of which is correlated with less breast, uterine, and overian cancer.

http://webpub.allegheny.edu/employee/r/rmumme/FS101/ResearchPapers/RachelBayer.html

Aaron Curl
5 years 11 months ago

I agree with you 100%. What I mean by babies having babies is….well I am for abortion big time. The large % of humans walking this earth today should not reproduce. Maybe its all the grains making them STUPID! I’m not joking about this. If meat and fat made our brains grow….then grains make us stupid! In 50,000 years humans will read about the stupidity of us! Probably sooner than this.

Brian Kozmo
Brian Kozmo
5 years 10 months ago

Even if the large percentage of humans were extremely intelligent, we’d still have a population problem. Unfortunately not reproducing goes against our biological urges. How one deals with population without killing and/or controlling everyone, though, is beyond me.

Inge
Inge
4 years 8 months ago

Weston Price says in his book that a lot of tribes actually did population control.
They even had members of the tribe agree to not have children because their food supplies (wilderness) couldn’t support it.

Nowadays you have every stupid clown out there wanting a baby because it’s THE AMERICAN WAY.

Dan
Dan
3 years 2 months ago
I came on here curious about the paleo diet, and associate it with some negative connotations due to some people that are on it having a superior attitude, and that they are better and smarter than people who aren’t. Aaron thanks for supporting this theory. You misused the words “week” and “to” and need “A” in place of “The”. I’m not joking about this, maybe the government should make it illegal for people to reproduce that cant use a language properly? Maybe you have had too many grains today. Or perhaps we should just appoint you to make the rules… Read more »
Jeff
Jeff
5 years 11 months ago

Keep in mind, the biggest additions to life expectancy were inoculations/immunizations (drastically lowered the infant mortality rate) and antibiotics. In the U.S. the average life expectancy was only 54 years (in 1915).

moksha
moksha
5 years 11 months ago
oops Jeff – argumentative – this is conventional medicines CW – their dearly held claim that they “wiped out diseases with vaccines” – i realize this is another whole can of worms to discuss here – but as someone who has gone into this quite deeply, (and now distrusts almost totally most conventional medicine’s claims) – it is as readily arguable that the turn of the century (1900 on) brought huge increases in the standards of living and sanitation in this and other developing countries. Best way to cross-check your vaccine claim is to look at the disease curves against… Read more »
Ken
5 years 11 months ago

Not to mention that many of the diseases were the result of so many living so close together, a result of the agricultural and industrial lifestyle, not the peleolithic.

Angela
Angela
5 years 11 months ago
Two other things that will destroy your bone density: drinking coffee and drinking soda. Coffee, especially coffee drinks that have chocolate in them, buffer the calcium in your blood and prevent it from being deposited in your bones. Best thing to build bone density: activity and weightlifting. It’s far less about nutrition for those of us on any kind of modern diet because if you eat animals, you’ll have far more than enough of the materials somewhere in your diet, you just need a reason for your body to use them. They’ve shown that seniors with osteoporosis can greatly improve… Read more »
Danielht
Danielht
5 years 11 months ago

Is it true about the coffee?!! If so I need to stop drinking it.
I drink one cup of black coffee a day

moksha
moksha
5 years 11 months ago

oops – another one of those “argumentative” statements – do a google on it – lots and lots of different opinions and study results – hormones come into play – timing of coffee consumption vs calcium consumption as well as **many** other general health conditions specific to the individual –

are you pretty healthy, getting enough sleep, moving and working your body and eating “primally” well? then enjoy your cup or two–

charlie
charlie
5 years 11 months ago

Interesting argument, but with one caveat.

distinguish african vs. non-african populations.

Humans evolved in Africa. There are natural barriers to population growth there — disease, predators, etc.

Once we left africa we became an invasive species with few if any predators and little disease. Nothing to stop us from moving to the top. Perhaps we can live longer then.

Inge
Inge
4 years 8 months ago
We didn’t leave Africa. Africa didn’t exist at the time when we evolved which was on planet pangea. We drifted north and ended up in todays europe…you don’t evolve into a blue eyed, white skinned Hick by marching to another continent 30k years ago, that’s ret….. They have found graves with domesticated animals older than that (in belgium, about 35000 yrs old). We have also always walked upright, and never evolved while being hunched over for 200k years or more? Ya know what that would do to your spine????? Our arms would be 2 meters long. They already found hte… Read more »
Gal @ 60 in 3
5 years 11 months ago

I think you’re trying too hard Mark 🙂

PB is a fine lifestyle and those who’ve tried it seem to like it. That’s probably the best evidence out there. I’d rather see you post more good workouts and recipes than a discussion of how long some hunter lived tens of thousands of years ago.

StephenAegis
5 years 11 months ago

Completely disagree

Paul C
Paul C
5 years 11 months ago

I think he does have to try hard, because too many unhealthy forces have too much power. If the primal movement can be dismissed with ‘cavemen led short brutal lives’, then what chance do we have to improve school lunches, get people on food stamps away from devastating cheap calories, change nutrition policy, and…well I could go on for hours.

Ken
5 years 11 months ago

It is ironic that the HG societies themselves don’t really track time in the way we are discussing here. You are an infant, a weaned child, an adult, and past child bearing. They are not parsing things beyond that. Live life, rather than worrying too much about the quantity. Of course in our highly unnatural civilization you can’t just relax and do that. Oh irony, how ironic you are.

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Steve
Steve
5 years 10 months ago

Read this article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oldest_people, it’s about how long the oldest living humans on record have lived. All are close to, but under 120 years with two exceptions (one disputed). And just because the other one isn’t disputed doesn’t mean it’s true.

Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.” Genesis 6:3

Chauncey Mabe
5 years 10 months ago

Psalms 90:10 “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” I’m pretty sure that adds up to 70 years — 80 if God doesn’t like you much.

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[…] more about the Primal Lifestyle by visiting the Primal Blueprint 101 page. Thanks for visiting!Speculation on ancestral lifespan is fun and potentially illuminating, but I think examining living, albeit imperfect, examples of […]

Uruk-Hai
5 years 10 months ago

Not one of these folks posting here is sitting in the sun. No vitamin D for them, eh? Too bad. We like a nice fresh piece of manflesh that is healthy, full of vitamins and dripping with blood.

rik
rik
5 years 10 months ago

in a different life time..I read the bible a lot. My favorite chapter being Genesis. A lot of people lived over 100 years. Maybe there was something to it..!

Steve
Steve
5 years 10 months ago

I think you’re right Rik. I view 120 as the max age and things like pollution, inadequate exercise, bad nutrition, etc. all subtract years from our lives and we live to 70 or 80. If we even make it that long.

Tribe of Five
5 years 10 months ago

Fascinating thought, Mark. I’m passing this article on.

Edie Zaprir
Edie Zaprir
5 years 10 months ago

How about that guy from the bible: Methuselah who lived to be 900 years old?
Since it was in Genesis, he was 10th generation from Adam who ate fruits and veggies in the Garden of Eden and his son Cain started eating animals; sounds like Primal eating to me.

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[…] For skeletons of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults, fossil analysis yields accurate age of death estimates. Human growth is fairly reliable for a while, and it’s easy enough to tell a kid apart from a really short adult, but things get tough once people stop growing and become adults. In fact, anthropologists have typically had trouble accurately determining the precise age of death for older adult remains. They’ll even tell you this. They can’t rely on the same methods and must turn to others. Just How Long Did Grok Live, Really? […]

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[…] Today’s Read: “Just How Long Did Our Ancestors Really Live?” […]

Gift Economy
Gift Economy
5 years 10 months ago

This is a misinformation!

Henry Barth
Henry Barth
5 years 10 months ago

There is much more involved in living a long life than what one eats. The genetic factors are more determinative. Those telomeres keep getting shorter regardless of your diet.

Warren Coop
Warren Coop
5 years 10 months ago

Has anyone read the oldest history book known to man. There are plenty of examples of people living to well over 100 hundred in it.

Kim
Kim
5 years 10 months ago
The diets most associated with longevity (in good shape) are the Mediterranean and Okinawa diets. That’s not to say one can’t live a long time on a Paleo diet either though. More important than the kind of diet (vegetarian, paleo, etc) is just eating healthy foods. Any diet that avoids processed foods, sugar, salt, refined carbs and excessive saturated fat will likely lead to a long healthy life (assuming they’re thin, see a doc regularly, and remain active); aside from that the rest probably only makes a difference at the margins. One other thing I did want to point out… Read more »
Steve
Steve
5 years 10 months ago

Kim,

Don’t you think it’s interesting that the Bible says that mans years will be capped at 120 and that most of the oldest people in the world live to just shy of 120? (with 2 exeptions)

I wasn’t saying that Grok lived a natural life to 120. Just that he had the potential.

I am a Christian and I think the earth is about as old as secular scientists say it is. Where does the bible say that the earth is only thousands of years old?

B
B
4 years 9 months ago

It also says it is flat and the rest of the universe rotates around it. there is not 1 thing in the bible that has any relation to fact, history or truth. Just being on this site should prove that. Man is over 2,000,000 years old, the earth is 4.5 billion years old, not 6,000.

Mike Phelps
Mike Phelps
4 years 9 months ago

B- just curious, where does the Bible say the earth is flat?
While I agree with you on most points concerning the Bible, there is a ton of health information contained in the Pentateuch that still holds true today. In fact, some good stuff echoed in the Primal Blueprint.

Tim
Tim
4 years 8 months ago
Sup B? Actually it refers to the earth as a sphere. Isaiah 40:21-22—“the sphere (???—chuwg) of the earth”. Job 26:10 refers to the waters of the Earth as “compassed”. The only way one could think the Bible says it is flat is if one doesn’t get the phrase “four corners of the Earth”, a reference to the directions of a compass & a naval phrase often used independently of scriptures. As far as your suggestion that you know how old the Earth is, try this the following. Work out the number of evolutionary steps and generations to make a human,… Read more »
Inge
Inge
4 years 8 months ago

The tomato was imported to italy in 1550’s.
The grains were also imported, it was a trade good.
Olives also are not italian.

The italians true, primal food was seafoods. The pizza is a made-up modern food. Most people think mediterranian means italian and so they load up on rancid olive oil, nightshades and grains…don’t fall for it.

Edie Zaprir
Edie Zaprir
5 years 10 months ago

Steve,
I agree with you about the 120 years. In the early Bible days people did not have pollution or pesticides or trans fats or processed foods or mortgage payments for that matter. They could have easily lived to 120 if they didn’t get killed by each other. Today, most people living past 100 live in remote regions although there are a few in the U.S. but they are the exceptions.

B
B
4 years 9 months ago

In Bible days there was agriculture and grains. and people killed each other in massive numbers fighting over whose god was the right god. And the bibles mean nothing in terms of fact and truth.

Inge
Inge
4 years 8 months ago

Religion came AFTER the grains. With grains came population, with population came dissease, with disease came the question who or what is doing this?
With that we went looking for answers (witches, devils) and with it all the perfect “book to rule them all with fear” was born: the bible.

Written, rewritten, translated, written, rewritten and retranslated…and read to someone who can’t write to tell someone who could write then rewritten and retranslated, edited, written again and reedited…
you get todays bible.

Tim
Tim
4 years 8 months ago

You are both guilty of misreading. Edie was referring to a period in time. To be taken more seriously cut the emotional bigotry. You sound like religious zealots.

Jon
Jon
5 years 10 months ago

Is Grok Cro-Magnon and proto-European?

john
john
5 years 10 months ago

Any statistics yet on longevity of people today, who have practiced the paleo way?

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[…] topic I again refer you to Mark’s site.  He has recently posted some articles on the topic (Just How Long Did Grok Live, Really? – Part […]

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5 years 10 months ago

[…] […]

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[…] How Long did Grok Live? (Part 1) – Mark Sisson How Long did Grok Live? (Part 2) – Mark Sisson […]

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[…] Debilitating age wasn’t a part of paleolithic human life, nor was a necessarily short life span. Old age disability is a modern condition, that has become so pervasive it appears to be the norm. […]

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[…] Browser: Mark Sisson explains why it wasn’t short.  […]

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[…] […]

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