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

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

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    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 at 12:57 PM.

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    Quote 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 at 10:23 AM.

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    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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    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.
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    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.

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    5,000 Cal Fat <> 5,000 Cal Carbs
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    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 at 12:44 PM.


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    Reindeer's Avatar
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    Quote 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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    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.

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    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 ...
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    My diet? Very low carb to initially lose weight, then moderate carbs (the past 12 years) for effortless weight maintenance. For me, the "carb curve" works like a charm. Once a week or so, I eat only one meal during the day (at late evening), as sort of a mini-fast.

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    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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