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Life Expectancy Conundrum

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  • #16
    Originally posted by breadsauce View Post
    I've noticed this in lots of rural English churchyards. Derbyshire, Sussex, Northumberland - lots of people reached their eighties and nineties. And a lot of gravestones recording long lived parents also have a sad list of their children who died young.
    I've noticed the same, while studying history.

    We've seen a shift in the curve for average life expectancy mainly due to advances in medical science and sanitation. However, maximum life expectancy has barely risen since the middle ages.
    F 5 ft 3. HW: 196 lbs. Primal SW (May 2011): 182 lbs (42% BF)... W June '12: 160 lbs (29% BF) (UK size 12, US size 8). GW: ~24% BF - have ditched the scales til I fit into a pair of UK size 10 bootcut jeans. Currently aligning towards 'The Perfect Health Diet' having swapped some fat for potatoes.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by jo View Post
      I think it will be interesting to see if life expectancy heads downward in the next few generations.
      I believe that is the prediction. I remember hearing somewhere that this is the first generation that will have a shorter lifespan than its parents.
      Eating primal is not a diet, it is a way of life.
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      • #18
        Originally posted by breadsauce View Post
        I've noticed this in lots of rural English churchyards. Derbyshire, Sussex, Northumberland - lots of people reached their eighties and nineties. And a lot of gravestones recording long lived parents also have a sad list of their children who died young.
        Yeah, interesting to flick through the hymnbooks inside the church and see how long some of the hymn writers lived, too -- I mean if there are copies of something like The English Hymnal rather than modern "happy clappy" hymnbooks. 18th and 19th century hymn writers were not all keeling over at 50 or something. William Cowper, Isaac Watts and many others were doing better than that.

        I think there'd be a similar picture for the U.S. I've sometimes noticed reading old accounts where a biography is given that the person lived to a ripe old age. Major Moses van Campen lived till over ninety.

        Dr. Cate Shanahan gives some interesting figures in Deep Nutrition culled from a WAPF magazine:

        % of Americans aged 100 in 1830: 0.020
        % of Americans aged 100 in 1990: 0.015
        There''s also a provocative prediction:

        % of Americans living today expected to reach 100: 0.001

        She also points out that today's centenarians are not, as is sometimes claimed, proof of the efficacy of the current diet -- because if you're 100 today, you certainly weren't brought up on it.

        Another interesting question would be how mobile, alert, and generally functional elderly people in the 18th or 19th centuries were. There are certainly plenty of elderly people today who are alive, but many of them are hobbling round on zimmers or driving down the pavement in invalid carriages.

        I think, though, that a lot of people living and working in cities (read hard industry, long hours, poor food, no access to sunlight and from childhood) died awfully young, so skewing the figures badly.
        Indeed. Pre-modern cities have been described as "killers of men". Ancient Rome ate people. London in Dr. Johnson's time wouldn't be a good place to be born, unless perhaps you were fairly wealthy.

        But I think it could be pretty bad anywhere in the Middle Ages. Apparently, at Wharram Percy (a much-studied village in Yorkshire) life expectancy at birth was 18. This figure is from Ian Mortimer's neat little book:

        Amazon.com: The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century (9781439112908): Ian Mortimer: Books

        Mortimer says of the fourteenth-century in general that "just five percent of ... people were aged over sixty-five".

        Everything happened faster and younger. You might be married or serve on a jury at 12. One of Chaucer's characters describes a woman of 30 as "winter forage".

        I suppose a lot of this is insanitary conditions and lack of emergency medical intervention in the case of accident or infection. This was a more violent society than ours, too. Also, I guess that food could be a bit limited and nutrient-depleted for agricultural populations -- or the poorer sections of them, at any rate -- at certain times of the year. Piers Plowman says he has to get by on some cheese and loaves made with beans and bran till Lammas time.

        _______________

        EDIT

        I'll just add that I think people saying that "cavemen" died young is a defensive move -- and further that it misses the point. I think it doesn't really show much of an understanding of evolutionary biology. The point is not that people wish to adopt the diet of the Paleolithic Era because they think people did well on it (although they did) but primarily because if you understand how evolution works you must see that hundreds of thousands of years of eating that diet will inevitably have shaped our nutritional needs. It couldn't not have.
        Last edited by Lewis; 05-03-2012, 10:24 AM.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by peril View Post
          Clean water supply. Sewers
          Ah. Indeed.
          Today I will: Eat food, not poison. Plan for success, not settle for failure. Live my real life, not a virtual one. Move and grow, not sit and die.

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          • #20
            Geography also determines longevity. In the late 1600s to early 1700s the life-expectancies for New England vs the Jamestown/Chesapeake Bay area were drastically different. A woman was likely to be married between 16 and 20 in both places- but in New England she may be married to the same man for 70 years. Further south, blended families were the norm because the wet, marshy warmth bred bugs and pestilance like nobody's business. If you made it to 45 around there, you were doing good. I remember a grave in Maine at a fishing village. He died at 50. She died at 90. Odds are pretty good that an accident killed him off given the local industry. The women in particular often lived into their 70s or 80s easily.
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            • #21
              It's Cash! More money equals better food, housing, healthcare, clean water, comforts(less stress), safety, security, etc. An interesting study would compare the life expectancies of the 5-6 richest nations.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by drssgchic View Post
                Geography also determines longevity. In the late 1600s to early 1700s the life-expectancies for New England vs the Jamestown/Chesapeake Bay area were drastically different. A woman was likely to be married between 16 and 20 in both places- but in New England she may be married to the same man for 70 years. Further south, blended families were the norm because the wet, marshy warmth bred bugs and pestilance like nobody's business. If you made it to 45 around there, you were doing good. I remember a grave in Maine at a fishing village. He died at 50. She died at 90. Odds are pretty good that an accident killed him off given the local industry. The women in particular often lived into their 70s or 80s easily.
                That's very interesting. Apparently Trappist monks tried to establish themselves on an old Indian mound at Cahokia in about 1805, but malaria got them:

                Cahokia Mounds | Explore | Mounks Mound Mound 38


                In England I understand till fairly recently people, and particularly incomers who weren't used to the area, were killed off by the marshy conditions in some parts of Essex -- not malaria just general dampness supposedly. Norman Lewis, the travel writer, had a bit on it in one of his books.

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                • #23
                  Dr Kendrick who wrote 'The Great Cholesterol Con' says that migrants have higher levels of heart disease which he attributes to stress. He makes a convincing argument in his book. In countries with waves of migration such as the UK, US and Australia, immigration could be another factor in low life expectancy (as well as those already mentioned). And immigrants tend to go to cities where the jobs are so probably more stress and pollution.
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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Lewis View Post
                    Yeah, interesting to flick through the hymnbooks inside

                    I call BS on your 'contrarian fact' this time.

                    Population Distribution by Age, Race, Nativity, and Sex Ratio, 1860–2005 — Infoplease.com
                    1860, the population over 65 was 2.7%
                    2005 it was 12.4%
                    (a 5x increase!)

                    Yet somehow those statistics entirely reverse in the following 35 years? That would be..bizarre.

                    (Note, your reference is from the same bunch that says "...From a video segment recently aired on Nova [2007 population 306 million], we learn that only one in 10,000 Americans will live to age 100 [0.33% of the total population]..."
                    1/10,000 = 0.33%?)

                    I find NO record of any much-referred to U of VA study that "proves" this.

                    And from this:
                    http://paa2005.princeton.edu/downloa...issionId=50718
                    Quote:
                    According to our enhanced Medicare data, the centenarian population has grown in the 10-year period from 1/1/1990 to 1/1/2000 by 51 percent, or at an annual compound growth rate of 4.1 percent.
                    ...which would certainly imply that the centenarian numbers haven't gone DOWN.

                    No, I'm going to suggest that the lack of written records in 1830 has more to do with the inflated reports of centenarians than nutrition.
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