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Why "primal" and not 19th century?

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  • #31
    My answer to the 19th century bit is that agriculture and what it takes to make the substances eaten in that era safe for human consumption is a shit ton of work. Then there is the whole dwarf wheat and GMO corn debacle. I generally agree with WAPF though and if your using ancient grains and heirloom varieties more power to ya.

    Not that hunting and gathering would not be a lot of work.... but, comparably there is little to no prepping of the foods gathered or hunted needed outside of cooking in some instances. It's been around longer than agriculture. There are people I've seen who did not get the results expected when adopting WAP until they totally ditched the grains. Quite likely that there is a sliding scale of how far back you need to go to experience good health. I would say 100% would do well to go to pre WWII era.... after that it's probably incrementally better for 100% to live like hunter gatherers, but not entirely necessary for all 100%.

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    • #32
      Originally posted by Zach View Post
      Can you show me any evidence that our paleo ancestors were healthy or free of disease? I have heard lots of conflicting information on this subject. Also the fact that agriculture exploded our population from thousands to millions and now billions. That speaks a lot. I also dont believe that we have shrunk both body and brain size, the sheer amount of available calories should mean that we were able to get bigger and we obviously got smarter. Neanderthals were bigger with bigger brains but they died out.

      In fact, if you look at any true hunter gatherer tribe, they are usually tiny in stature, lean mostly but certainly not free of disease.
      They weren't completely free of disease. However, they didn't seem to suffer from the same kinds of diseases that we do. There were periods of starvation that caused hypoplasias on the teeth, and any cut or bite could lead to a massive and deadly infection. That's different than obesity and diabetes. Modern HGs usually don't start suffering from disease until they come in contact with outsiders, or like in the case of the San bushmen, are basically sent to reservations and fed rations of corn meal and forbidden to hunt on their own land.
      From the skeletal remains that I've studied, it's pretty obvious that, as a general rule, our brains and bodies are smaller than they were during the Middle and Upper Paleolithic. The brain thing is complicated and has lots of factors. Smaller brain doesn't necessarily equal less intelligence. Our phones are smaller than they used to be, but they're much more complicated. It's a matter of efficiency. We also domesticated ourselves, which leads to smaller brains in just about every animal but doesn't necessarily make them dumber. Our mental capacity hasn't changed in about 200,000 years. But our bodies are definitely punier. Average height is only now starting to approach Paleolithic standards. Their bones were much thicker and denser than ours too, because they lifted heavy things all the time and ate foods conducive to building strong bones. Yes, we have access to more calories now, but they're mostly empty calories. Empty calories will keep you alive but they won't make you bigger or smarter or healthier. What's really important is nutients+calories, which is what was available to our ancestors when they had access to food.
      Also, Neanderthals were pretty short. Their bones were even more robust than our ancestors who where their contemporaries, meaning they were short and compact, but very strong. Their brain situation is also very complicated and I won't go into it unless someone asks me to, just remember that brain size (after a certain point) has little to do with intelligence.

      These are all things I've learned in studying anthropology and actually looking at the bones, so I don't have a link to give you.
      Last edited by Kata; 03-09-2013, 04:13 PM. Reason: grammar

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      • #33
        Originally posted by Kata View Post
        Their brain situation is also very complicated and I won't go into it unless someone asks me to, just remember that brain size (after a certain point) has little to do with intelligence.
        These are all things I've learned in studying anthropology and actually looking at the bones, so I don't have a link to give you.
        I am interested in anything evolution and anthropology, but no pressure.

        I traced the story back to the common ancestor with chimpanzees which is estimated to be between 6-12 mya, at this time the fossil record indicates majority forrestation in Africa with an enormous diversity of primates occupying every niche from treetop to ground dwellers, from the tiniest monkeys to giant Apes standing over 2m tall.
        So at this point our ancestors already had begun the process of walking upright, one hypothesis is during a significant period of drying as forrests retreated the more ground dwelling upright walkers had the advantage in the more sparsly treed environment, and at this time Australopithicus came on the scene, we were probably eating fruit, starchy tubers, leaves, insects, grubs and scavanging meat when available.
        After a number of incarnations we got to Homo Erectus about 2mya where we perfected upright walking, but more importantly they had the ability to run, which meant easier escape from predators, but in particular endurance hunting as it is at this point we probably lost a lot of our hair and were sweating, so this is when we really got into meat and during this time fire was also likely being used in a controlled way along with limited tool making and use, they could use hand axes and thrusting spears, but not throwing spears as they lacked a fully rotating shoulder.
        Neanderthal Man was much more evolved than Homo Erectus, but left Africa before the first Homo Sapien was born some 200 kya. Right before this time around 500-200kya the region was in dramatic climate change going from wet to dry often in less than 1,000 years, creating massive environmental selection pressures and accelerating the evolutionary process.
        So we can consider ourselves as "creatures of climate change" the first Homo Sapiens was born into a world that had toolmaking and controlled use of fire, all we had to do was perfect these things at some point we went through a population bottleneck of possibly less than 1,000 individuals and would today be listed as an endangered species, but we got through than and some 600 individuals sometime later around 70kya crossed the persiun gulf, likely during a dry spell and entered central Asia. There is a Hypothesis that suggests at this time we hugged the coastline as food supply was much more reliable, but much of that history is somewhere under the ocean now with higher sea levels explaining some of the gaps in the fossil record. There was an earlier exodus as well with fossil records in the middle east, but it appears this first expedition ended in extinction of that line.

        We followed the coastline populating all the way through Asia to Australia, then expanded northwards with Brittain and the Americas only being populated in the last 10-20 kya, interestingly agriculture and domestication appears to have occured independantly in both central Asia and the America's or was possibly started even earlier at a common location, but was limited and there is no record of it.

        This is a pet interest of mine and I like to add any data I can to help me fill the gaps.
        "There are no short cuts to enlightenment, the journey is the destination, you have to walk this path alone"

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        • #34
          My grandparents and great-grandparents ate: meat, potatoes, vegetables, some fruit, bread...

          Not all that different from paleo. Much less junk food, more natural stuff that you got from your own farm. Plus, people ate much less, and their daily routines involved more "required" physical activity.

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          • #35
            My maternal grandparents ate pretty average for Americans, but I don't remember eating much in the way of breads at my paternal grandparents' house. I mean, it wasn't like they thought it was bad, and they did eat it sometimes, but I mostly remember eating buckwheat pancakes and shelling peas from their garden.

            I wish I could say there was a noticeable difference in longevity, but all 4 of them lived to almost 100.

            Which led me to the revelation a few years ago that my childhood seemed so very many years ago, and since I'm 48, I've probably got about the same number of years yet to live. It ain't over by a long shot.
            Durp.

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            • #36
              Like my signature says, if our grandparents (or great or great great) didn't eat it, spit it out. Every time I go anywhere, I see people who could have gotten jobs as side show fat man/woman freaks 100 years ago. Sad.

              I do avoid wheat and the other "bad" grains. Even traditionally prepared ones still have a lot of carbs and anyway I'm too lazy.
              Ancestral Health Info - My blog about Primal and the general ancestral health movement. Site just remodeled using HTML5/CSS3 instead of Wordpress.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by Omni View Post
                This is a pet interest of mine and I like to add any data I can to help me fill the gaps.
                You know this means we have to be bffs now, right?

                Anyway. The fact is that on average, Neanderthal brains were pretty much on par with our own at the time, sometimes significantly larger, depending on the specimen. A fossil called the Amud Neanderthal skull's brain case was measured to be 1,740cc. That's pretty dern big. There are a few ideas about what this means.
                Neanderthal skulls were long and low, with huge brow ridges and an occipital bun. They lacked the foreheads that we have, which can suggest a few things. They may not have had frontal lobes that allowed for abstract and future thinking, or, their brains could have been wired differently so that those abilities were located elsewhere in the brain. The brain may have had to grow larger to accommodate it. It could be as simple as their brains evolving differently, in a way which happened to make them bigger. It doesn't mean they were smarter or dumber than us.
                Another idea is that they had large, low, sloping skulls and the knobby occipital bun to counteract the weight of their massive brow ridges. I thought it was a silly idea at first, but computer simulations show that if they had high, round skulls like ours filled with more compact brains, their heads would have slumped forward from the weight of the face and they would have had to constantly struggle to keep their heads up, which can be very dangerous, especially when running.

                When it comes to our brains, they haven't changed all that much. They are slightly smaller, but so are our skulls, since our bodies are also smaller. It only follows that the brain would have to shrink to fit into the skull. Furthermore, like my phone example from before, our brains may have been getting more compact and efficient since Homo Erectus. Also, like I said before, domestication seems to come with smaller brains, perhaps because when an animal is domesticated it doesn't need to learn how to survive and defend itself in the wild. Like any domesticated animal, that extra hard-drive space in our brains wasn't being used, so it was selected out. Brains are very calorically expensive, after all. Yes, we had to learn new things when we started farming, but we were expanding on the parts of the brain that we were already using. Combine all these factors, and you get smaller brains. Are they more or less intelligent? I don't think so, but there's really no way to know without talking to a Paleolithic person.

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                • #38
                  Because "19th Century Blueprint" sounds ridiculous.
                  Dark chocolate and coffee, running through my veins...

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                  • #39
                    Regarding the neanderthals it seems there are indications they had the capability of language, emotion and culture and their brain size confirms this, but they followed a niche of brawn as it suited their environment, they were close quaters ambush hunters with appropriately enlarged forearms, generally on the right side which suggested lifelong thrusting spear use. Their more squat bodies were more suited to hilly, cold forested terrains and it may simply have been climate change and thinning of forrests which eventually wiped them out. The fact that fossil remains often suggested a long overlap with humans indicate they were not wiped out due to the arrival of humans but more likely that their niche seized to exist and they could not adapt fast enough. They also had the restriction of running as you said, the stocky body didn't help that at all, and also the ability to use projectile weapons effectively as per analysis of their shoulder structure, although there is contention as to whether this was an anatomical restriction or whether it was simply they had no history of throwing things. If we throw things from childhood our muscles develop differently and this also impacts our bone structure, hence the "Girly Throw", so for them it may simply be that they didn't think of it. With their brain size I have no doubt that they had the capability to go on to evolve into a much more complex societiel structure, but they were around for a good 500,000 years and never found that spark, maybe their ability to do just fine as small familiy groups hindered that process, who knows.

                    In all of this I think endurance running as shown by fossil records of homo erectus and perfected later homo sapiens was likely the key to our survival until recent times, there are a variety of minor adaptations from little bones in the feet, tendons in the legs, shoulders and neck, narrow waist, swinging arms to counterbalance legs, flatter faces reducing momentum forces on neck to keep head upright and facing forward, sweating to run in midday heat, minimal energy (rapid gear change) required to go from run to sprint, almost instant directional changes, all these things meant we could evade our predators long enough for them to either tire or give up and provided we could maintain eye contact or do some tracking there is no animal alive today or in history that could run as long as we can. This I think was the big meat diet shift where we became true hunters and not just scavengers, sure with bigger brains we came up with good new ideas, but without the running bodies those big brains would have just been juicy treats for the predators of the day, we had those big brains long before we actually had effective weapons to defend ourselves from predators and could hold our ground.
                    The old adage still stands today, "He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day", so along with being creatures of climate change, we were "Born to Run"

                    The doco below was one of the better ones I found on human evolution and gave me a lot of kick off points to further research, you may have seen it:
                    NOVA | Becoming Human - YouTube
                    I originally downloaded it as a three part series, but this one seems to be all in one.
                    "There are no short cuts to enlightenment, the journey is the destination, you have to walk this path alone"

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                    • #40
                      Your great grandparents also worked in the fields on their farms all day, if you do that, eat all the wheat you want. I loved reading the Little House books.
                      F 28/5'4/100 lbs

                      "I'm not a psychopath, I'm a high-functioning sociopath; do your research."

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                      • #41
                        ^ Wheat has far more problems with it that can't be "worked off" though.

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Cryptocode View Post
                          Because, as the Primal Blueprint explains, hunter-gatherers (if they didn't die of accidents) had a longer life span and were healthier than your grandparents. Your grandparents were part of an agricultural lifestyle (certainly much healthier than ours). When humans became agriculturalists their brains and bodies shrank. This can clearly be seen in the Massai of the 20th century who were not agriculturalists, were tall, lean, healthier and stronger than we are, and lived longer.

                          Thanks. Thats an excellent answer. So I guess the question that I have to answer is, "how healthy do I want to be?" Living like my grandparents would be far healthier then living like my peers. They had far lower rates of obesity and diabetes. But to optimize my health, I could go farther and adopt a more primal way of living. Either choice is a step up.

                          -Jodie

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Neckhammer View Post
                            ^ Wheat has far more problems with it that can't be "worked off" though.
                            Wheat can be part of a healthy balanced diet - For Birds

                            There is too much evidence out there of how much damage it does, whether seen or unseen that make it unsuitable for Human consumption.
                            "There are no short cuts to enlightenment, the journey is the destination, you have to walk this path alone"

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Traderjodie View Post
                              Thanks. Thats an excellent answer. So I guess the question that I have to answer is, "how healthy do I want to be?" Living like my grandparents would be far healthier then living like my peers. They had far lower rates of obesity and diabetes. But to optimize my health, I could go farther and adopt a more primal way of living. Either choice is a step up.

                              -Jodie
                              Exactly right.

                              And within Primal there are further steps, you can do Primal/Paleo just by shopping at the fringes of the supermarket, i.e. no processed foods, you won't be getting the best quality meat, fruit and veg etc., but your diet will still be 100% better simply by not ingesting the processed crap, then this goes through all the grass fed organic biodynamic foods etc all the way to getting onto your own piece of land in the wilderness, eating with the seasons, growing some vegi's, picking wild berries and raising your own grass fed livestock, the final step of going full HG is very difficult to achieve in the world we are living in though.
                              "There are no short cuts to enlightenment, the journey is the destination, you have to walk this path alone"

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                              • #45
                                + it was not all sunshine in the 19th century: William Banting - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia This shows people had weight problems already then and the solution somewhat resembles Primal.

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