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Thread: Prehistoric milk drinkers rule page

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    Sanas's Avatar
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    Prehistoric milk drinkers rule

    Primal Fuel
    "Imagine, if you will, a village of the Linear Pottery culture in the middle of winter. As smoke emerges from the top of a wooden hut, the table inside is surrounded by rosy-cheeked children drinking hot milk with honey, which their mother has just prepared for them. It's an image that could help explain why people adopted a sedentary way of life. "

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/...3310-3,00.html

    Looks like the primal people got their butts kicked early in the Neolithic. How can that be, if it's a healthier lifestyle?

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    Lewis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sanas View Post
    Looks like the primal people got their butts kicked early in the Neolithic. How can that be, if it's a healthier lifestyle?
    That's a big question.

    Healthier doesn't necessarily mean more powerful. The North American indians living by the chase were absurdly healthy compared to European immigrants. That didn't stop them losing out when push came to shove, because their weaponry was less sophisticated than the invaders - and, importantly, because there were fewer of them.

    But this article is claiming that milk - not cereals - is what gave the incomers the edge. Over-use of cereals will result in population growth (but accompanied by a decrease in average stature) - because they provide cheap and (relatively) reliable calories. A larger population means more fighters even if they're smaller. However, the use of dairy products might result in population growth but not necessarily a diminution in stature.

    However, the Der Spiegel piece is a bit speculative anyway. The lactose-intolerance stuff is a bit of a canard, so I'd be disinclined to hang too much on it. You can make cheese or yoghurt with milk; you don't have to drink it "as is". There also seems to be a certain amount of evidence that some people who are supposed to be "lactose intolerant" can tolerate at least some raw (as opposed to pasteurized) milk.

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    Sanas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lewis View Post
    Healthier doesn't necessarily mean more powerful. The North American indians living by the chase were absurdly healthy compared to European immigrants. That didn't stop them losing out when push came to shove, because their weaponry was less sophisticated than the invaders - and, importantly, because there were fewer of them.
    Good point. One of the difficulties of the Primal way, from a societal point of view, as I see it, is that it's difficult to conceive of a society in which most people eat this way. We don't have enough pastureland, enough people raising free-range chickens or pigs, no way to get these foods to masses of people without industrial agriculture -- I don't think? And yet having masses of people thinking and working together is the best way to promote innovation. (This is why some people argue that we should vastly increase the number of immigrants we allow.)


    Quote Originally Posted by Lewis View Post
    However, the Der Spiegel piece is a bit speculative anyway. The lactose-intolerance stuff is a bit of a canard, so I'd be disinclined to hang too much on it.
    In what way, if you don't mind elaborating? If you try milk and it makes you sick, are you likely to go on to eat cheese or yogurt? I don't think Asians even today are big cheese eaters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sanas View Post
    rosy-cheeked children
    Inflammation. Not good.

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    One way the hunter-gatherers of North America lost out, despite their robust health, is that the dairy-eating Europeans who had kept domestic animals (often right in their dwellings) for many generations had been exposed to and developed resistance to a lot of animal-borne diseases. American Indians, with no resistance at all, were decimated with smallpox, measles, chicken pox, the common cold, and so on. Plus they had not had exposure to alcohol, so they were easily addicted to it. Many had not eaten grains, either. I remember reading that a Franciscan in one of the California missions wrote with sorrow that when the local Indians left their nomad existence for a settled life, eating grain and maize, "they fatten, sicken, and die."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grumpy Caveman View Post
    Inflammation. Not good.
    Have you noticed that most of the Old Master paintings, particularly the Dutch ones, show rosy cheeked people? Of course, the Little Ice Age was going on then, which may have contributed to rosy cheeks.

    I ate a couple slices of pizza the other night, first grains since July, and immediately had rosy cheeks. I wasn't drinking beer either.

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    Lewis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sanas View Post
    In what way, if you don't mind elaborating? If you try milk and it makes you sick, are you likely to go on to eat cheese or yogurt? I don't think Asians even today are big cheese eaters.
    Sure, they're mostly not dairy eaters - except in the sub-continent. In India you've had what's been through most of history one of the largest populations in one of the richest and most advanced countries in the old world. There dairy products were so important that you didn't kill the sacred cow that gave them.

    To elaborate - the argument in the Der Spiegel piece so far as I can make it out seems to be a bit backwards. I'd have to read it closely several times to be sure, and perhaps if one were o talk to the people whose views it's supposedly summarizing one would get a different picture, but it seems to be hanging a lot on lactose intolerance. They do also talk about some other supposed advantages of farming, such as herds of pigs - meat on the hoof. But the lactose looms large. And it seems less a consequence of depending on the dairy animals and more what's driving the whole thing - the "invaders" secret weapon is lactose-tolerance. It's all a bit apocalyptic for me. I have to wonder whether this replacement population model is right anyway.

    This is why I say it's a big question, because I think there are a lot of assumptions in there and when you start to look at it it breaks into about three.

    First, assuming there's the population replacement and that it happened for the reasons that are hypothesized, how could that be if the diet and lifestyle was less healthy (if it was)?

    Secondly, if there was a population replacement, did it happen for the reasons hypothesized? Maybe, for example, the disease-problems brought on by animal husbandry that piano-doctor-lady mentioned with regard to the historic period in the Americas were also operative in prehistoric Germany that people -

    ... who had kept domestic animals (often right in their dwellings) for many generations had been exposed to and developed resistance to a lot of animal-borne diseases.
    Thirdly, was there a population-replacement anyway? The largest and most detailed genetic analysis I know of is Stephen Oppenheimer's, which puts the peopling of Britain and Ireland in a European-wide context:

    http://www.amazon.com/Origins-Britis.../dp/1845294823

    Now according to Oppenheimer earlier DNA analysis that has a lot of talk of Celts and Anglo-Saxons is over-influenced by what's known (or believed to be known) from the historical record and doesn't stand up if you look at the data closely enough. So he says that, yes, you can find similarities between the populations in the Eastern side of Britain (e.g. East Anglia in England) and those in Germany, Scandinavia, and the Low Countries, but that doesn't mean that people waited until the 5th century (Anglo-Saxon times) to come across the North Sea. According to Oppenheimer, the genetic map of Europe was actually laid down from really early - what you had was people retreating to Ice-Age refuges in the Iberian peninsula and the Ukraine and then flowing back as the ice sheet retreated. He says there have been movements since but you can find that basic outline still across the whole continent.

    This supposed population-replacement only a few thousand years ago in the Neolithic that Der Spiegel's got happening doesn't seem to fit with that. Yet Oppenheimer's analysis is apparently the largest and most detailed genetic analysis yet ...

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