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Height - genes, or gene expression? How tall are your primal kids? :D

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  • Height - genes, or gene expression? How tall are your primal kids? :D

    I've been pondering for a little while about the height of the human population. As a female standing at 6'1, my height is certainly nothing unusual in my own country, even though I belong to the taller end of the spectrum. But at times when I've left for other countries, sometimes it's obvious that the average female is considerably shorter than the average female up here in Scandinavia. This might be due to genes, but it might as well be due to gene expression - on average, I'm guessing that we eat a lot less junk food than many other areas and from what I've seen while traveling, we eat a whole lot more protein too as part of culture standards. This definitely contributes to us being taller, but I wonder how much exactly.

    You guys if anyone should be able to provide my curiosity with the answer - tell me how tall your primal kids are! Taller than average for their age or not? Did you have one kid conceived on the SAD and one conceived once you switched to paleo, and are there any obvious height differences? Have switching to primal had any obvious effect on your childs height?

    Tell me, oh wise sages of the primal forums, for curiosity is a beast that must be satisfied with the om nom nommy foods of knowledge! >
    Last edited by Reindeer; 11-17-2013, 01:57 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Reindeer View Post
    I've been pondering for a little while about the height of the human population. As a female standing at 5'1, my height is certainly nothing unusual in my own country, even though I belong to the taller end of the spectrum. But at times when I've left for other countries, sometimes it's obvious that the average female is considerably shorter than the average female up here in Scandinavia.
    Five foot one? Did you do the conversion from metric properly? That sounds pretty short for Northern Europe for me. What people would call a "tall" lady in Britain would probably come in at around 5ʹ 10ʺ or more. Something like 5ʹ 7ʺ to 5ʹ 9ʺ would not be unusual — for the indigenous population, this is. The average is probably around 5ʹ 5ʺ or 5ʹ 6ʺ.

    I think there are a few things to be said about height. However, I think it's not as useful a metric as people imagine.

    Anyway … it's likely connected with the amount of protein available in the diet. Dr. Cate Shanahan — one of the most interesting and well-informed voices in the Ancestral Health space and who qualified as a biochemist as well as a doctor has an interesting table in this book:

    Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food: Catherine Shanahan, Luke Shanahan: 9780615228389: Amazon.com: Books

    It graphs the increase in height of the Japanese population over a few decades. That correlates with the increase in protein available in the diet, and that probably is no accident. I think Dr. Cate has guested as a columnist on Mark's site. She's definitely worth listening to at any rate.

    In the 1970s people used to laugh indulgently at the very gutsy but terribly small Japanese rugby team. A Welsh comedian used to sing:

    Tommy David very big man,
    None like him out in Japan.
    When we find we could not stop,
    We give him — whack — karate chop …

    There were lines about fitting "platform boots" to the Second Row forwards, and making a nine-foot outside-half with "plastic surgery", too.

    I doubt the Japanese players are very much shorter now.


    However, as I say, I think height is a measurement of limited value. There's also width of body (shoulders and so on) — and sheer circumference of bones. There seems to be a certain amount of evidence that excessive consumption of refined carbohydrate can cause children to grow fast, but unevenly and in a "long and thin" way.

    This has been suggested as long ago as the 1950s:

    is articles went into surprising detail on the biochemical pathways through which sugar did its damage, pointing out the relation between sugar and atherosclerosis, abnormal increases in height and weight and skeletal anomalies.
    Splendid Specimens: The History of Nutrition in Bodybuilding - Weston A Price Foundation

    Well … longer ago. Elongation of the bodies and faces of cats, so that the cats were longer but less robust with improper feeding, was noted by Francis Pottenger somewhat earlier:

    Pottenger's Cats: A Study in Nutrition: Francis Marion Pottenger Jr.: 9780916764067: Amazon.com: Books

    And there's stuff in Weston Price that probably points in the same direction.

    Have you ever read Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye?

    The Catcher in the Rye: J.D. Salinger: 9780316769488: Amazon.com: Books

    A clever book. There's a kind of moral point to it I hadn't really seen that a clergyman explained to me, and I'm sure he must be right. Anyway his reading was this: the boy says "catch" although Burns actually has "meet":

    Gin a body meet a body
    Comin thro' the rye,
    This man said to me that he thought the writer had the boy spending the whole novel trying to catch people out — that's the way he thinks — so that he never really meets anyone.

    But that's by the by. Notice, for the purposes of this post, how that character is very tall, but also very thin and with glasses. He has also had trouble with tuberculosis, as I recall. There are deep connections here. IIRC, Sally Fallon of the WAPF has spoken of height together with "skinniness", poor eyesight, and malformed jaws (how many people in modern societies have fully-erupted wisdom-teeth?) as being "an American syndrome".



    Dr. Cate also has some interesting stuff in the book cited earlier on the gradual blunting of sexual dimorphism that seems to be taking place on industrialised diets. Apparently, a lot of young women are noticeably narrower across the hips — they don't really have a "feminine" shape — this, of course, is a bad thing, because it means delivery after pregnancy will be more difficult for them and Caesarean section, with the attendant disadvantages, more likely needed.
    Last edited by Lewis; 11-17-2013, 11:23 AM.

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    • #3
      I'm of swedish/norwegian descent, and i'm 5 ft 7 inches. My husband is danish-swedish, and he's 5 ft 7 (but there are some other reasons for why he may not be as tall as he should be -- nutrition being one of those things).

      My son is 5 years old. He's tall, thin/fit, and strong. Always has been. He's currently 47 inches tall -- which is between the average height for a 7-8 yr old, and 50 lbs of basically solid muscle which is the weight of an average 7 yr old.

      He's been primal/paleo since he was 2, and prior to that, it was whole foods, WAPF style and breast milk. He had breast milk until he was 3. He's always been strong, and tall/thin-muscular.

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      • #4
        I come from a big family and I am the shortest, 5'2". My sisters are around 5'7", brothers range from 6'1" to 6'4". My nephews are all over 6'1" (one is 6'7"). My husband is 6'2" and our son is heading that way; at 15 he is 5'11". My mom (5"6") was Belgian and my dad(5'11") was Native American/ Mexican. I was born premature that could be why I'm so much smaller than the rest of my family. I hope my son isn't taller than 6'2" it makes buying clothes more difficult.
        Life is death. We all take turns. It's sacred to eat during our turn and be eaten when our turn is over. RichMahogany.

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        • #5
          I'm 6'1 and my wife is 5'10. Our kids are all on the tall end for their ages, but I'm not sure how much of that is due to nutrition...
          Disclaimer: I eat 'meat and vegetables' ala Primal, although I don't agree with the carb curve. I like Perfect Health Diet and WAPF Lactofermentation a lot.

          Griff's cholesterol primer
          5,000 Cal Fat <> 5,000 Cal Carbs
          Winterbike: What I eat every day is what other people eat to treat themselves.
          TQP: I find for me that nutrition is much more important than what I do in the gym.
          bloodorchid is always right

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          • #6
            I was nearly starved to death in my early teens, and wear size 13 in some shoe types at 5'9". I was raised on macaroni and kool-aid, but in small amounts - prison rations, really. I consider myself stunted. I also come from very tall people.
            Last edited by Knifegill; 11-17-2013, 01:44 PM.
            Crohn's, doing SCD

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Lewis View Post
              Five foot one? Did you do the conversion from metric properly? That sounds pretty short for Northern Europe for me. What people would call a "tall" lady in Britain would probably come in at around 5ʹ 10ʺ or more. Something like 5ʹ 7ʺ to 5ʹ 9ʺ would not be unusual — for the indigenous population, this is. The average is probably around 5ʹ 5ʺ or 5ʹ 6ʺ.
              You're very right - I meant 6'1, not 5'1. Thanks for pointing that out. Thanks for an informative post, I will check those links out asap

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              • #8
                I grew up eating SAD and come in at 5'7". My mom is 5'2 and my dad was 6'. I'm northern European and Native American. My husband is Sicilian and Irish and is 6'3 but is the shortest of the men is his family. My son is 9 and right now is 60" so 5' on the dot. He wears a mens size 8 shoe and mens clothes. Obviously he takes after his dads side height wise. We have only been primal since August.

                Sent from my VS840 4G using Marks Daily Apple Forum mobile app

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                • #9
                  It used to be rare for me to see a woman as tall, or taller, than I am (at 6'0''). But lately, whenever I'm in a crowd of people, I notice a number of very tall girls -- all in their late teens, or early 20s.

                  Surprisingly, I have not noticed a similar increase in extra-tall men. I don't think it's an attribute of diet, paleo or otherwise ... generation "x" is, genetically, just exhibiting an increase in the height of females (in my non-expert opinion).

                  Since I notice this mostly when shopping at the mall, I had wondered if it is natural selection at work -- e.g. taller women sprint faster for sales when shopping, and so forth.

                  Okay, terrible joke, but don't shoot me yet. As far as survival advantage, I'm sure other guys can think of worse examples ...
                  I have great faith in fools; self-confidence, my friends call it.
                  Edgar Allan Poe

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                  • #10
                    My 14 year-old daughter is 5'11''. I'm 6'1" and her mom is around 5'5". Not sure of my ex's lineage, but I'm a Scottish x Native American hybrid.

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                    • #11
                      My family is a smattering of Europe. German, Polish, French, Swiss, British, Irish, Greek and Italian. Mom is about 5'10", dad is 6'3". I am 5'9", did is an inch taller and my two younger brothers are 6'3" and 6'5". Pretty SAD diet growing up but more home cooked meals, we didn't eat out much. Also, my tallest brother is an absolute fiend for milk but if that's the hormones talking or calcium or genes I may never know.


                      Sent from....right behind you....
                      You are an animal on this planet and the rules of engagement are non negotiable.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CaveBug View Post
                        Also, my tallest brother is an absolute fiend for milk but if that's the hormones talking or calcium or genes I may never know.
                        Sure. You can't know when it comes to one individual.

                        AFAICT, it seems likely that a good supply of minerals (including but not limited to calcium) in the diet are important for proper growth — and not just height. I have a kind of sense — can put it no higher than that — that where there is both adequate protein (not massive amounts just enough) and plenty of calories there will be height. (C.f. modern Western countries).

                        BUT … Whether there's the width with it, too — and, more generally, ideal growth all round — is another matter.

                        Weston Price is particularly interesting on the New Zealand Maori. Observations at the time of early contact seem to indicate that these people, before contact with modern society and modern food, were in a near perfect state of physical health:

                        The reputation of the Maori people for splendid physiques has placed them on a pedestal of perfection.
                        Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: Chapter 12

                        It seems to have been partly the high intake of seafood — a good source of minerals — that was responsible.


                        And when the bones grow right, it seems likely the soft-tissues (as with the eye) are not impacted on adversely. Again on the NZ Maori but stated in the chapter on the Aboriginal Australians:

                        The marvelous vision of these primitive people is illustrated by the fact that they can see many stars that our race cannot see. In this connection it is authoritatively recorded regarding the Maori of New Zealand that they can see the satellites of Jupiter which are only visible to the white man's eye with the aid of telescopes. These people prove that they can see the satellites by telling the man at the telescope when the eclipse of one of the stars occurs. It is said of these primitive Aborigines of Australia that they can see animals moving at a distance of a mile which ordinary white people can not see at all.
                        Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: Chapter 10

                        As always with Price, one is impressed with his field observations, which seem so suggestive, and equally dismayed by the fact that all this stuff that he was bringing to light seems to have fallen on deaf ears and is still mostly unknown. Was he talking to a brick wall?

                        As for milk — well, yeah, difficult to tell what's going on there. Herders seem often to have been very tall. There are African peoples one could point to in this respect. Maybe this might have something to do with the blood-sugar spiking effects of milk??

                        Again, maybe it's not just how tall you are but how well-balanced your physique is overall that matters. Price himself notes of the Dinka that:

                        This tribe lives on the Nile. Its members are not as tall as the Neurs [Nuer]. They are physically better proportioned and have greater strength. They use fish from the Nile ...
                        Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: Chapter 9
                        Last edited by Lewis; 11-19-2013, 10:51 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Height - genes, or gene expression? How tall are your primal kids?

                          Parents are 5'8" and 5'7". I am 5'9". Brother (12) is my height. Sister (10) is probably 5'2" ish or a bit taller.

                          Nutrition seems to matter a lot as I am taller than both my parents and my brother is going to be very tall. Parents grew up during a very poor Chinese commie period. During famines the trees' barks would be stripped clean for consumption.

                          I grew up poor (first china; then poor here as parents were both grad students and at first dad couldn't get a RA position so we lived on mom's RA money) but mom tried to pull every string to feed me decent food. Brother/sister grew up average American middle class lifestyle.
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                          Last edited by turquoisepassion; 11-19-2013, 08:46 PM.
                          ------
                          HCLF: lean red meat, eggs, low-fat dairy, bone broth/gelatin, fruits, seafood, liver, small amount of starch (oatmeal, white rice, potatoes, carrots), small amount of saturated fat (butter/ghee/coconut/dark chocolate/cheese).

                          My Journal: gelatin experiments, vanity pictures, law school rants, recipe links


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                          • #14
                            I'm a female, right around 5' 6". My Dad is around 5'9" and my mom a mere 4'10". My mom's entire side of the family are quite short, my dad's side is average. My older brother stands at only 5'2". He was a horribly picky child and was sick a lot when he was young though, so perhaps those factors as well as genetics played a role in his short stature.

                            Interestingly, he and his wife, who is also 5'2", have an 8-month-old girl who is in the 97th percentile for her height and 10th percentile for weight. Such a tall and lean little thing, but so strong and very healthy. Up until a month or two ago she was exclusively breast fed, and now has both breast milk and various fruits, veggies and a little meat. They steer clear of wheat (and so far other grains) as my SIL is gluten intolerant, and I hope for my niece's sake they keep it that way. It will be interesting to see how tall she grows up to be. I can't wait to see how tall my own future children will be growing up primal from pregnancy. Their future father is only 5'4"

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                            • #15
                              I'm around 5'10", my father is the same height, my mother is around 5'7", sisters are in the 5'8 - 5'9" range. At 13, my brother is still growing, but from the looks of it, he will be quite tall... at least 6'1" probably. We are all very slender and visibly leaner than most people, I'm thinking this is firmly genetics taking the wheel here because all of our diets (both currently and growing up) varied a bit. Our heights are pretty normal for our ethnic group. I was a picky eater though because my limited food choices growing caused me frequent bowel troubles. I wonder had I consumed better quality food and less carbs, maybe my hips wouldn't be so narrow, my bones so oddly long, and my jaw wouldn't be as small (I had NO ROOM for wisdom teeth, so they were all extracted several years ago). My overall body shape/type is typical for women with my ethic heritage though, so I don't worry about that too much.

                              My husband is around 5'9", his brother is shorter than average, as is his mother. His father is about 5'11". There are a few people in his family that a quite a bit shorter than the average of their ethnic heritage, but I'm certain that this is genetics because the everybody else is notably tall on the same SAD.

                              Husband's family is of northern European mixed heritage (Nordic & Germanic), and my family all originates from a single town in West Africa. Will be interesting to see how our children turn out...I'm think the dice will roll on the very tall side regardless of diet. I am paleo, and husband currently isn't.

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