Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
27 May

Dear Mark: The Purpose of Body Hair and the Non-Essentiality of Dietary Cholesterol

BeardIn today’s edition of Dear Mark, I finally field a question that has been weighing heavily on the hearts and minds of the ancestral health community: body hair. I will tell you that there has been a lot of behind the scenes chatter between big names in the community about just how to tackle this question, and until now, no one has stepped up. To be frank, no one really knew what to say. No one wanted to commit. I certainly didn’t, but then I got this email from Natasha and I realized that something had to be done. The people couldn’t wait til the roundtable discussion on chest hair scheduled for the next PaleoFX or Loren Cordain’s keynote speech at AHS 13 on the evolutionary purpose of arm hair. They needed to know why body hair exists, and they needed to know now. After that, I cover the less exciting topic of the non-essentiality of dietary cholesterol. In other words, if we can make it, why do we need to eat it? I go over why that question misses the entire point, and more.

Let’s go:

I don’t think you’ve addressed this topic yet. People, especially women, today are obsessed with hair removal in various parts of the body. Grok and Grokette didn’t shave, wax, do laser hair-removal, etc and I’m sure they grew body hair for some evolutionary purpose (protection, temperature control, etc). My question is does all this hair removal lead to adverse effects or it is simply cosmetic and harmless? I personally don’t participate in this trend, but most do.

Natasha

What’s the purpose of body hair?

It may have aided in the detection of parasites, like ticks or fleas. In one study, subjects with a single arm shaved had bed bugs placed on both arms. Overwhelmingly, bed bugs were detected first on the hairy arm. Arm hair also seemed to impede the bugs from feeding; bugs on bare arms began biting before the bugs on hairy arms. You’d think it would be the opposite, that you’d notice them first on the bare skin, but body hairs tend to be fairly sensitive to slight movement, almost like built-in motion detection sensors. You’re going to notice a tick threading its way through your arm thatch because it’ll kinda tickle.

It may have helped thermoregulate, but I think clothing, fire, and architecture have made that mostly irrelevant. Hominids have definitely been trending toward less and less body hair over the past couple million years.

How about facial hair? Face hair protects the face, blocking up to 90% of UV rays. Beards block pollen and dust, reducing the symptoms of seasonal allergies, while locking in moisture and keeping the skin fresh and young-looking.

Although you didn’t mention it specifically, I think it bears mentioning that pubic hair does seem to have a purpose, too: scent wick. Human pubic regions contain apocrine sweat glands whose pheromone-rich secretions are acted upon by bacteria to produce even more pheromones – chemicals that trigger a social response in other people, usually of the opposite sex. Pubic hair essentially acts as a hangout for these secretions, allowing them to to stick around a little longer so that bacteria has more time to interact with them and produce interesting pheromones, which in turn have more time to exert their effects on others (and maybe attract a mate or set into motion a shot at procreation). Without pubic hair, pheromone production will likely drop and what pheromones are produced may not have as much longevity. It’s easy to think of pheromones as “bad smells” we no longer need or want, but they are a crucial aspect of attraction that likely remain relevant (even if we don’t know it and assuming we’re dealing with people face to face). Of course, seeing as how most of us keep that region covered up, I wonder how much really “gets through.”

So no, I don’t think there are any acutely adverse effects, other than razor burn, extreme itchiness or inappropriately placed lasers. According to some, pubic hair removal may inflame the area, lead to microscopic abrasions, and increase the risk of infection, but I haven’t seen any official statistics showing this to be the case. You certainly want to exercise caution and minimize trauma to the area, whatever your method of removal.

Your site talks a lot about how every cell in the body can make its own cholesterol, because cholesterol is so vital to the human body. But if every cell can make its own cholesterol, then why should we (or why do we) need to eat foods with cholesterol in them? Isn’t this just another reason for choosing veganism instead? A vegan recently said to me that she is healthy because her body already produces cholesterol on its own, so there is absolutely no need for her to ingest more cholesterol. Her logic seems to make sense, since the body can produce its own cholesterol. Thoughts?

Scott

Technically, this is true for most people. But in certain cases, when cholesterol requirements are elevated or cholesterol synthesis is impaired, dietary cholesterol may be incredibly useful and perhaps even necessary.

People with Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (SLOS) produce very low levels of 7-DHC reductase, an enzyme involved in cholesterol synthesis, and may need to supplement with dietary cholesterol to make up for the lack of endogenous production. However, SLOS is a recessive disorder, meaning both parents must contribute a recessive gene to their child in order for him to have it; it’s fairly rare.

As you probably already know, testosterone is made from cholesterol. Since testosterone is an anabolic hormone involved in muscle building and strength development, people engaged in strength training need more testosterone. In these populations, cholesterol supplementation (via whole eggs) has been shown to increase strength considerably.

All this talk misses my major point concerning cholesterol: it’s not so much that we need dietary cholesterol (although it’s clearly beneficial in certain groups and under certain contexts), but that cholesterol-rich foods also tend to be incredibly nutritious. The cholesterol itself doesn’t hurt, and it may even help, but the stuff that comes along for the ride with cholesterol is what we truly want. Let’s just go through three particularly cholesterol-rich foods that you might stumble across when going Primal.

Eggs – Not only delicious and high in cholesterol, whole eggs are also loaded with vitamin A, choline, iodine, selenium, highly digestible protein, and, depending on what the chicken ate, good levels of vitamin E, vitamin K2, and DHA.

Liver – Nature’s multivitamin, liver is rich in iron, vitamin A, copper, B-vitamins, choline, and folate. Oh, and yes, it has a decent amount of cholesterol.

Shrimp – In addition to cholesterol, shrimp is also good for selenium, iron, and a neat little antioxidant known as astaxanthin.

These are good, healthy foods by any sane measure. Because they contain some cholesterol, though, they should “be limited.” Or “avoided.” Or “minimized.”

Just marvel at the preposterousness of this line of thinking by checking out an insightful article from “HealthAliciousNess.com” (those jerks totally stole my name and I had to settle for Mark’s Daily Apple) warning us to “limit or avoid” the following high-cholesterol, highly-dangerous foods: the aforementioned egg yolks, shrimp, and liver, plus squid, caviar, pate, butter, sardines, cheese, liver sausage, crayfish, and shellfish. Do those really sounds all that dangerous to you?

I don’t know. Maybe your vegan friend is magic. If her body can manufacture adequate amounts of choline, selenium, iodine, B-vitamins, folate, iron, copper, protein, vitamin A (retinol, the pre-formed animal form, the good stuff), vitamin E, vitamin K2, and DHA, then sure, any foods that contain dietary cholesterol are probably unnecessary and she’s totally correct. If not, though, if she’s like the rest of us sad sacks with our pathetic reliance on exogenous vitamins and minerals, she may derive benefit from incorporating certain cholesterol-rich foods into her diet.

As for you, don’t go vegan. The fruits and vegetables are great, but you’ll really be missing out on some nutrient-rich-foods-that-happen-to-be-high-in-cholesterol-which-isn’t-essential-but-may-actually-confer-additional-benefits-or-at-the-very-least-be-entirely-innocuous. Don’t go seeking out cholesterol, don’t buy supplementary cholesterol, don’t make scrambled caviar every morning (but only because it’s so expensive). Just don’t shy away from foods that have it.

That’s it for today. Email me your questions here and I’ll try to answer them in a future Dear Mark. Grok on!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. People will believe what they want to believe. Just because our brains are tad bigger does not change the fact that we are simply animals in an environment and should not be over thinking our food. Perhaps it’s time to devolve.

    Groktimus Primal wrote on May 27th, 2013
    • Bigger brains need more cholesterol to work, too.

      dkd2001 wrote on May 27th, 2013
    • except of course that our “environment” is now chock full of unhealthy chemical-laced foods, so I’ll stick to thinking about it.

      leafbiter wrote on May 27th, 2013
    • Are we not men?

      LREKing wrote on May 28th, 2013
      • We are Devo!

        Sandi Jones wrote on November 26th, 2014
  2. Now that its allergy season… I guess I should try to grow more facial hair… Hopefully that will help with the itchy eyes and runny nose!!

    Bjjcaveman wrote on May 27th, 2013
  3. Why don’t women have facial hair? They too encounter pollen and dust. This claim of protection from these irritants, without experimental substantiation, seems lacking in rigor. Ancestral men probably trekked outward more than their women homebodies, and thus might have benefitted from added protection from heat & cold or bugs & pollen but that’s about all that can be surmised.

    phusisphilo wrote on May 27th, 2013
    • I have facial hair, so does my sisters, I have the most tho. I even have sideburns and while it is kinda thick, its soft and white blonde. I have trouble with foundations because of the hair, and if I don’t buff the powder i put on sometimes, the powder will be very visable. I also don’t know anyone without a little hair on the face.

      Brandi wrote on May 27th, 2013
    • Women’s fine, blonde facial hair is called vellous hair. Wouldn’t it be nice if our leg hair was vellous too? :)

      Wenchypoo wrote on May 27th, 2013
      • lol yes. . . No one Ive met has as much on the side as I have, people who see me up real close have actually mentioned it.

        Brandi wrote on May 27th, 2013
    • Maybe the facial hair works as camiflage. When you are in the woods hunting and see another person sans orange the thing that stands out is a shaved face and hands. If you are a hunter as our grog was your hairy face made you more successful. antelope can see as well as a person with binocs. a small edge would make for survival in hard times.

      Terry wrote on May 27th, 2013
      • I could see that….works the same way as a ghillie suit to break up the human form.

        Jacob wrote on May 28th, 2013
      • I’ve come to this answer from TED Talks discussion of Human evolution –

        Our ancestors(primates included) had tons of facial hair. But social complexity & superior brain sizes helped proto-Humans identify the mood (anger, fear, attraction, submission, etc) using subtle facial expressions like blushing, smiling, etc using our eyes instead of physical motions (peacock dance, baring canines) or sound-based modes of communication.

        Individuals who could readily identify the mood (anger, fear, etc) were more successful in the social structure & LOWER FACIAL HAIR HELPED IN ALL OF THIS. Over time, facial hair quickly reduced (fire, clothing etc also definitely helped)

        Another theory states that proto-Humans had a very major aquatic history(again, please see TED videos!) Humans are among a few other mammals without hair (dolphins, whales, seals, etc) and less hair=smoother swimming.

        –> http://www.ted.com/talks/elaine_morgan_says_we_evolved_from_aquatic_apes.html

        Regards,
        Vishnu

        Vishnu N S wrote on May 28th, 2013
        • Vishnu, you are making a very good point about aquatic mammals. I would recommend anyone to read “The Descent of Woman.” It was written in the 70s, and I don’t think anyone really took it seriously but she presented some interesting theories about humans “going back” to the ocean after evolving from ape-like animals on the savannah. Her theories explain our high percentage of body fat compared to other land-based mammals, lack of body hair, length of head hair, buttocks, downward-turned nostrils (compared to apes), protuberant rather than flat breasts, and a number of other things that have puzzled evolutionists for decades. And this was long before TED videos :-)

          Gingerzingi wrote on June 2nd, 2013
        • Whoops, I should have looked at the link you posted before I commented: Elaine Morgan (in the TED talk) is indeed the author of “The Descent of Woman.” I’m glad to know she’s still around.

          Gingerzingi wrote on June 2nd, 2013
    • Ever been to Greece?

      Lance wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • The reason men may have facial hair in northern climes may be the same reason male lions have manes. Have you ever seen a big biker dude with a huge beard? Definitely more scary than one without. While in the tropical climes it would be a disadvantage. Women don’t need to be as scary, and facial hair might block more important cues from women’s face that would be valuable for social interaction. Just a thought.

      apachejoe wrote on May 30th, 2013
  4. Testosterone receptors in the male chin area are another reason why the skin there remains supple and smooth, even if you shave. We ladies have to resort to creams and lotions to achieve the same effect.

    Back in Grok’s day, the bushy-faced guy could readily be distinguished at some distance from the sun-parched woman. And today the carefully groomed five-o’clock shadow is still a sign of malehood.

    Claire wrote on May 27th, 2013
    • More likely there’s a survival advantage in being less visible, to potential prey or enemies, while on the hunt or raiding. The masking/concealment effect, especially of lighter skin in the case of Europeans, would have been very effective.
      None of this supports the pollen/bugs alleviation thesis.

      phusisphilo wrote on May 27th, 2013
      • I would venture a guess at few different reasons for the hair left on our bodies. The ability to grow a long neck beard in guys would greatly conceal the neck area from predators. The armpit hair could be any or a combination of reducing chaffing, heat reduction, and pheromone release. Ladies, do you find that you would chaff without an antiperspirant lubricant underneath your arms? The hair around most of our orifices would reduce the amount of little critters able to crawl in them. The eyebrows keep sweat out of the eyes. The hair on the top of our heads is to retain heat. The lack of (the amount) of hair for women in places like the chin could be less survival selection and more sexual selection. For keep in mind, it is not those that are the most fit at surviving, it is those that are most fit for reproducing. These are simply my guesses though. I would love to hear other ideas as well.

        Adam wrote on May 27th, 2013
        • While a lot of the advantages of hair here may apply, I think it’s worth considering the issue of why and where we have how much hair from the reverse perspective: Hair is a distincive mammalian feature, and the “default” for mammals is a full cover of hair for almost the entire body.

          When wondering about the distribution of hair on modern human bodies, it might be informative to ask why we’re NOT looking like Gorillas.

          Certain traits (and some hair may or may not be one of them) do not confer any significant benefits to humans, even to Grok – and just stayed ’cause it did not matter either way, and they didn’t go away.

          Ear muscles are a great example – unless you interpret being able to entertain people by wiggling your ears as an advantage in sexual selection.

          Chris wrote on May 28th, 2013
        • “When wondering about the distribution of hair on modern human bodies, it might be informative to ask why we’re NOT looking like Gorillas.”

          That’s a good point which opens up an interesting new angle: the peacock’s long tail is hardly a practical thing, yet evolution seems to have favoured long-tailed males capable of putting on an impressive display, so maybe at some point the human (or proto-human) mind, male and female alike, came to associate relative hairlessness on some areas as indicative of desirable traits? And so it got selected for the entire species over time.

          I believe there’s a correlation between high testosterone and male baldness, so perhaps the relative lack of hair on the limbs (compared to under-arms or head) are a sort of side-effect of some hormonal or other biological factor that our current understanding of genetics hasn’t yet pinpointed?

          Perhaps people with less hair on those regions had some brain structure configuration that allowed for a better grasp of symbols as communication, something that, once Grok and co. started to use art and language, must have been fantastically important and given a significant survival advantage to the groups where it was predominant. I mention symbolism just as an example because it’s fairly unique to modern-era humanity, and hope it’s clear that I’m not trying to be offensive to anyone hairy here (by modern standards), because I’m talking about the range of modern human hairiness compared with, as you mentioned, a gorilla or other primate.

          The hair on our heads is also unusual, in that it potentially just keeps growing, so at some point that must have indicated a desirable trait – my dog’s fur, and my own body hair, has a natural length past which it just doesn’t grow.

          Patrick wrote on May 28th, 2013
  5. Me like European women…more hair=more phermones.

    Nocona wrote on May 27th, 2013
  6. Your body can also manufacture all the carbohydrate you need, so I suppose your vegan friend does not need to eat carbs.

    SteveRN wrote on May 27th, 2013
  7. In college, in the 1960’s, the presumably horny guys sometimes raided the girls rooms, stealing panties so they could sniff them. I guess we can chalk that up to being Primal. Is that still going on?

    Sharon wrote on May 27th, 2013
  8. So true bout the carb thing. I read that little article and it sounded like they were just spouting of 10 year old info on cholesterol. Avoid cholestersol cus we say so, lol not alot of info tho. My cholesterol isn’t high anymore but i am still overweight, and the articles says I shouldn’t eat it because of that. HA!, Bring on the pasture raise chicken eggs

    Brandi wrote on May 27th, 2013
    • Don’t forget the bacon!

      Petra wrote on May 27th, 2013
      • yes, yes good sufite/fate free bacon, mmm yumm.

        Brandi wrote on May 27th, 2013
  9. Not shaving my junk FTW!

    Peter wrote on May 27th, 2013
  10. Hepatitis C infection is another disease that decreases cholesterol production (this may be the case with HBV too), while increasing HMG-CoA reductase activity. It makes sense to supply cholesterol from diet then, because this will downregulate HMG-CoA reductase and make up the cholesterol deficiency, which is associated with disease progression and liver cancer.

    George wrote on May 27th, 2013
  11. Along with these burly ancestral dudes with gnarly beards, women should be throwing out the razors and letting the leg and pit hair grow! Subvert those bs societal norms and reclaim your bodies, ladies! Join the feminists. Lawd knows our ancestral community has been great at being anti-conformists, too.

    Angela wrote on May 27th, 2013
    • Lol I hope your not serious, that damn sh*t itches. :D

      Brandi wrote on May 27th, 2013
      • Men don’t seem too bothered by their pit and leg hair, and they’ve got more of it. I think women can handle it ;)

        Angela wrote on May 27th, 2013
        • My friend grew hers out (pits and bikini area) as an experiment, said it didn’t itch and she used PitRock mineral deodorant (NOT anti-perspirant) and said the hair didn’t make her armpits smellier. Just throwing that in to the debate!

          Patrick wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • I’m totally with you, Angela. It’s really easy to make juvenile jokes about underarm hair or public hair, but it’s a lot sillier to actually believe that there is something unnatural about hair growing where it grows (but ONLY unnatural on women, of course). However anyone wants to style their body hair is entirely their own choice and I’m not judging or dictating to anyone, but I too have wondered how all these primal men with their big old beards are reacting to the sight – possibly their first – of an un-depilated bikini region. Oh, the horror! I find it sad and comic that Patrick’s friend “grew” her body hair out “as an experiment,” as though the state of having hair is the exception, not the norm, for human bodies.

      Like I said, do whatever you want with your hair, for whatever reasons you want, but I’m totally not believing anyone’s commitment to primal lifestyle if they freak out at armpit, leg, or pubic hair on women. To quote Anthony Coppola (without his knowledge or permission): Humans Are Not Broken.

      Gingerzingi wrote on June 2nd, 2013
  12. Actually pubic hair has other purposes. Moisture wicking keeps the area from getting bacterial and fungal infections. It’s also what they call a “dry lubricant” and protects the skin, and we don’t think about it much because we wear clothes now, but back before we wore clothes, the hair worked like a beard and likely kept dirt and sand out of our nether regions when we sat on the ground. Because I know we all wanted to think more about pubic hair :P

    Willow wrote on May 27th, 2013
    • I guess it used to be public pubic hair…

      Nocona wrote on May 27th, 2013
  13. I don’t think a lot of men (even those proclaimed as “primal”) would want a woman with a huge fuzzy bush, inch-long armpit hair, wiry unshaven legs, and a touch of upper lip hair, no matter how natural or normal it is.

    What do you primal people think of head hair then? Why does it grow so long, unlike any other animal? Is it actually practical to have hair that reaches your thighs or knees? Clearly this doesn’t apply to African people though, since their hair naturally grows up instead of down.

    Miryem wrote on May 27th, 2013
    • I like bushey bushes. Tamed fur looks so weird. Also, I could care less about leg and pit hair.

      A1rh3ad wrote on May 27th, 2013
      • +1

        Nocona wrote on May 27th, 2013
    • I hope you’re trolling… because as a black person my hair does not grow up naturally…. It’s curly hair like other people with curly hair… just more tightly curled. Therefore no. At a certain point it is not magical hair that defies gravity. Nice logic there though.

      Nia wrote on May 27th, 2013
      • +1

        Catherine H wrote on May 27th, 2013
      • I’m not trolling – and while not all people in Africa have that kind of hair, most do. I’m black myself and my hair isn’t just curly like other races’ hair, but it is so curly that it stands upward unless I do something else to it, like put gel on it or get a relaxer.

        Miryem wrote on May 28th, 2013
        • Your hair sounds as wild as mine!
          Ever try the no shampoo method? I’m biracial (Anglo and African-Canadian) and have had a wild ride with my hair for the last 46 years. It seemed to grow up, out, down, sideways and whichever way it wanted.
          Until I discovered the no shampoo method. Check it out at naturallycurlydot com.

          Catherine H wrote on May 28th, 2013
        • Well we’re both black women so I’ll cut it short as possible by saying that a good google image search for “natural long black hair” will show you that unless you’re sporting a fro… hair will hang. Also a curl is a curl, some are just looser than others. My point was that statements like yours are the reason that black women get asked ridiculous questions like “how do you wash your hair?”

          As a sidenote: +1 to no poo.

          Nia wrote on May 29th, 2013
        • The Afro is the original hair type – our primitive ancestors on the savannah. Hair changed as our primal ancestors moved out to different climates. The afro created an insulated air pocket between the head and the sun. That’s why it’s very, very tight curls and grows up and out. But I do think eventually the hair will start to fall over – even the tightest afro – if it grows long enough. Now I’m not African (but my ancestors were there about 150,000 years ago). I’ll tell you this, though. Primal Blueprint made my already curly hair get even curlier!!

          Heather wrote on July 10th, 2013
    • +1
      Primal all the way, love the bushes but leg, facial and pit hair are MAJOR turn offs no matter the use those might have.

      Renato wrote on May 28th, 2013
  14. Alas, you begin to lose some quantities of body hair in midlife, and especially after menopause. Could it be that old people were bled dry from no longer having tick, flea, and bedbug protection?

    Mark, you’re 60 now–talk more about what these kids have to look forward to…land show us more current pics of your wife.

    Wenchypoo wrote on May 27th, 2013
  15. Unless I keep my beard short, I get beard-druff. I tried oils, I take cool to cold showers, and I still get it. I drink water regularly and eat primal. I notice it if I wear dark shirts. Not cool. Any suggestions? I’m “this close” to trying an Egg-Liver-Shrimp breakfast smoothie with a splash of coconut aminos. Maybe some kale for good color and a strip of bacon for garnish.

    Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on May 27th, 2013
    • It might be what you are using to wash with. I used to have bad dandruff on my head (and dry skin everywhere else) that no dandruff shampoo could help… I quit using SLS/SLES shampoos, started using non-foaming cleansers, and no more dandruff. I also went fragrance/scent free at that time, which might have helped as well. Since I quit using SLS/SLES body washes, and started using real soap, my severe dry skin has went away as well.

      KD wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • Have you tried a cream with urea in it? That usually sorts out any skin irritations I get, not primal (unless you think Grok groomed himself with his own piddle) but it’s always done the trick for me so passing it on fwiw. Vaseline Intensive Care lotion is good, Eucerin is oilier but I think it’s more widely available.

      Patrick wrote on May 28th, 2013
  16. Paleo Bon, I heard that monkey rib eye and large south american grubs work wonders for the druff!

    Nocona wrote on May 27th, 2013
    • So maybe the international section at Whole Paycheck?

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on May 28th, 2013
      • LOL – That’s what I call that store, too. I got funny looks (as in weird) when I called it that in front of one my wealthier vegetarian friends.

        Amy wrote on May 28th, 2013
  17. I like to shave my pubic hairs for many reasons. One, my pubic hairs grow out ugly, and combing or trimming does not help.

    The feeling of using a high quality shaving cream and giving your balls and cock a full shave is sensational. I like to do it about every 2-3 months. Not obsessed about keeping it constantly smooth in doing weekly shaves.

    Note: To prevent ingrown hairs, dry skin brushing helps.

    Saaa-mmm wrote on May 27th, 2013
  18. A lot of this modern cosmetic stuff may be unnecessary, but one should not assume that Grok did not groom himself. (Think of how the media portrays the ‘cave man’ – it’s definitely inaccurate!) Modern-day tribes groom also. As one person commented, European hair may grow down to your knees if you let it, but it definitely isn’t necessary.

    Brian Kozmo wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • I’m wary of causing offence but body modification, from cosmetic scarification, to full-body and facial tattooing, even to different forms of genital cutting we consider distasteful and abusive is quite rampant and often of great importance in many “primitive” (non-urbanised and non-literate) cultures. As is removing, beading or otherwise styling head hair so that it looks completely different to its natural state – in fact present-day practitioners of body modification are often called “modern primitives.”

      So I reckon there’s a possibility grooming and modification of appearance was a very early development of the human race, and the permanent nature of those modifications would have made a lot more sense when you don’t have 24/7 access to mirrors or a L’Oreal counter.

      Patrick wrote on May 28th, 2013
  19. I’m excited that finally Grok touched the subject of hair. Hair and skin are extremely important organs – they connect our bodies with the world outside.
    Besides the brain, they can possess the highest amounts of pigment melanin.
    Hair and skin are of equal importance as green leaves have to plants. Think about it…

    Now. What’s the role of body and scalp hair? This topic is fascinating me for a looong time. You’re right, almost nobody has any clue about whats their real purpose!

    Thermoregulation? Not true, since body hair is to sparse to provide any benefits in terms of body temperature. Plus they would have to be either nappy, curly (nappy hair cool down the heads of african people) or straight as Mongolian have on their heads (theory says it warms up the head).
    But even this theory is wrong. Why? People living in India don’t have curly hair, while the temperature there is the same as in Africa!

    Protection from bugs/bacteria? Then again, why women don’t grow body and facial hair?

    Ladies and gentlemen. The real purpose of body and facial hair may surprise you.
    Its ultimately connected with emotional and sexual side of humans.
    The purpose is this: to balance excessive aggression in males, when their testosterone levels are high. It is exactly at puberty when boys start to grow facial and body hair. Test. production also explodes. What always happens when they would cut their hair? They become TOO aggressive. Ever came across a skinhead subculture? Mike Tyson would be a good example here ;) The same process is visible in animals. The most aggressive dogs have very short hair. The least aggressive: long hair. See Rottweiler and Golden Retriever. Why gorrillas have that much hair?

    This explains why asians and Indians mostly don’t have facial/body hair- these races have the least testosterone, hence no need for such hair.
    This also explains why women only grow hair in genitals, heads and armpits: too little testosterone to justify that much hair all over the body.

    The other purpose of all human hair is even more incredible. They are extensions of central nervous system and can interact with the whole environment around you.
    This quality however is more associated with scalp and facial hair, since these are closer to the brain.
    Hair on our heads are literally antennas which transmit and capture energy from everything around you. Music, emotions, body language, non-verbal communication – the more hair (esp. BLACK hair) you have on your head, the more SENSITIVE and responsive you are to emotional, spiritual world.

    This is precisely why for Rastafari and Sikh people hair are divine.
    Men from these two religions also happen to be the least aggressive folks in the whole world.
    Not only body & facial hair will make you more balanced, it will also protect you from being dominated, manipulated and persuaded into all kinds of mental slavery.

    Are rastafarians easily influenced by capitalism, marketing, PR and corporate propaganda? Well, everyone knows the answer! How about asians? If you have ever wondered why japanese play pachinko, why asians are work-a-holics and perfect corporate slaves… now you know why.
    I like asian people, i think they have build great societies. But its just so much different vs other cultures. The root cause is biological. And its rooted in hair.

    Bashar Knows wrote on May 28th, 2013
  20. I think there is less emphasis on conforming to a certain style of hair removal/growth in the social group I have and there tends to be alot of personal variation in how people of all genders deal with it (or dont). I think what concerns me is not why hair exists biologically ((cos things usually have (or used to have) a reason for being there)). Likewise it is not a burning question for me if people “should” remove it (cos that is a really personal grooming choice and could be argued either way from a historical, spiritual, or cultural viewpoint). But the important question is rather, which way/s of hair removal are the least toxic/harmful if or when people do decide to remove it. For that reason – for me- chemical depilatories and conventional chemical-based shaving creams are out. Likewise, I view the safety of electrolysis with scepticism. I tend to shave with an all-natural olive oil soap and follow it with coconut or olive oil, or (less commonly) pluck with tweezers or use a natural wax. I tend to remove body hair in spring and summer and let it grow in the winter, but like alot of people, that can vary according to whim (and how much I am channeling my inner hippie-caveperson). Case in point – my legs are currently furry :) I wonder if anyone has done research about the relative toxicity of various hair-removal methods… I can’t help but think that chemical products that are designed to make your hair drop out are not that good for you.

    Stella wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • I think it becomes important and beyond personal choice when teenage girls start asking their parents to fund bikini waxes, there becomes a sense that any body hair is somehow “not nice” or even UNhygienic, and anyone who doesn’t comply with the norms of mainstream pornography (zero hair on men and women) is mocked. I’m a big guy and know my own mind, not so sure I’d have felt that way if I was exposed to those hair-free norms from an early age like kids are today.

      I think it’s a debate worth having, and IMO the issue is pubic hair doesn’t look so great on film, same as a few excess pounds, but what they FEEL like in the real world to the person who loves you (or at least desires you) and the agonies people have to go through to eliminate them are way out of proportion, most of the time, to any real-world gains. We sacrifice peace of mind for visual, not tactile, sensations right now.

      Patrick wrote on May 28th, 2013
      • Good point you bring up about the influence of pornography. Do most people even realize pornography sets the standards of what is acceptable concerning body hair? I wonder if they realized this, they would rethink the practice of removing all hair from their bodies.

        I once casually mentioned to a female friend that I thought it might be nice to just have lots of hair cover our entire bodies like most mammals. She responded by saying as long as we didn’t have to shave all of it off everyday.

        Sharon wrote on May 28th, 2013
  21. The vegan lady’s argument is not sustainable. Usually nobody in the paleo spehre emphasizes the need to eat dietary cholesterol. What we do emphasize is that there is no need to avoid it. Cholesterol is a non issue. No need to pay any attention to it. As long as you eat primal. you can forget about it completely without guilt.

    einstein wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • Vegans are looking for reasons we don’t need animal products in our diet, which is, as you said, a fundamentally different thing than looking for reasons why animal products like this are harmless.

      We could all probably survive without interaction with any human being ever again, but it wouldn’t be an optimal way to live, and as with massive dietary adjustments the harmful effects would differ from person to person, some of us would handle it quite well, a minority would thrive, and others would fall to pieces. And to echo Weston A. Price, I think it’s telling that although some small communities exclude meat, there have been no sustained vegan communities or cultures in the past. Or any that tried it didn’t make it to the point of passing on their wisdom, anyway…

      Patrick wrote on May 28th, 2013
      • Yes, exactly. Lacto-vegatarism has passed field tests as a sustainable human diet in small scale. (Having tried it myself, I’m skeptical that it would scale up, but that’s just speculation.) Veganism has no such testing (as far as we know) and requires the support of modern agriculture to be remotely feasible as a lifestyle.

        Amy wrote on May 28th, 2013
  22. As to body hair, I read a theory proposed by an anthropologist a long time ago. As we became bi-pedal we need less body hair due to the sharp angle of the sun on our upright bodies, and we could catch the cooling breezes better without the hair on our bodies. But the brain needed to be insulated (hot or cold weather) ergo hair on our heads.

    As to male facial hair and its protective properties, that’s okay as far as it goes, but then why don’t women have the same facial hair as men. My theory is that the facial hair on men identified them as adult males. Conversely, developed breasts and the wide hips of a woman identified her as an adult and not a girl, that is, a breedable female.

    As to pheromones, I did a little research recently for a story I was writing. It seems that an ovulating woman produces a pheromone called copulance (that’s right, copulance…and here’s why). When a male detects the copulance (subliminally) it causes his body to produce more free testosterone and that’s how come we have 7 billion people on the planet, Margaret. :-) As a side note, concentrated amounts of copulence evidently smells like rancid butter, but then women don’t produce concentrated amount and it works its magic on men…most of whom need little to no excuse anyway. ;-)

    As to dietary cholesterol, I have read that a large portion of dietary cholesterol is in the esterized form and little to none of it gets absorbed in the gut, but is passed on to the large intestine and excreted. Of course, there is unesterized cholesterol in our food, also, and that does get absorbed.

    D. M. Mitchell wrote on May 28th, 2013
  23. Okay, what about going bald. Do older men not need their brains protected from the elements anymore? Or is this just a plan to keep hat makers in business?

    Sharon wrote on May 28th, 2013
    • Perhaps it was a marker for showing age, and therefore wisdom in survival matters, so a male who’d lived long enough to be bald might get preferential treatment even when he was no longer contributing as much to his group as a younger man in terms of hunting and warfare. He’d get respect, instead, for having lived that long – “He must know a thing or two, if I share my gazelle steaks maybe he’ll pass it on to me so I can live as long myself.”

      Just a theory.

      Patrick wrote on May 28th, 2013
  24. One thing I noticed about public hair… it seems to help prevent chafing. When I was running long distances a few years ago, I also decided one summer to shave a certain region of my body. Bad idea.

    Adam wrote on May 28th, 2013
  25. Regarding body hair, the most compelling explanation I’ve heard for why we have so little compared to other mammals is that it made persistence hunting possible. The idea goes that early humans in Africa often hunted by running down animals over long distances – literally running them to death (or near-death collapse). Think a long, slow run rather than an aerobic race. The animals’ bodies would eventually overheat, leading to heat exhaustion and collapse. Humans, with bare skin and sweat glands all over our body (as opposed to some – not all – animals who have to rely on panting), could keep running longer, and eventually catch and kill the exhausted animal while still staying cool enough to be functional. There were still some tribes practicing persistence hunting into the 20th century (might still be some – I don’t know), and they were in savannah regions of Africa and the American Southwest. So we know this was done even in modern times, and it’s the least technology-dependent mode of hunting big game for humans – you don’t need anything other than a sharp stone to cut the downed animal.
    That seems, to me, like a much more immediate survival value than some of the other ideas tossed around. It gives humans a unique way of obtaining lots of meat that is different from any other hunting animal, without even needing throwing spears etc – makes sense that this would be an important form of hunting for very early humans, especially in the African grasslands where we first evolved.
    This doesn’t contradict Mark’s, and others’, comments about possible benefits of the hair we do have, but I think it helps explain why we have so much less than other mammals.

    Mark Kuto wrote on May 30th, 2013
    • VERY interesting. I just read an article about a family that lived in Sibera, cut off from all other human contact, for 40 years. They were originally fleeing the oppression of the Communist regime, and just never came back. They hunted by running animals to the point of exhaustion and building traps.

      Sarah wrote on June 4th, 2013
  26. I had two wild oysters today, plus lots of other natural food. In the past I gobbled the oysters down, today I chewed them thoroughly and took my time, using my fingernails and the shells to scrape the flesh from them, standing barefoot in the river.
    I’ve been eating a lot of wild greens lately. I don’t know what the plant is but it grows about three feet high and has spade shaped leaves that grow near the stem and small white flowers at the top. The stem and branches have little thorns on them like fuzz and just a bit on the underside of some of the leaves but it doesn’t hurt too much. It’s kind of like spinach and kale with an allium bite. I grazed on that today, as I do basically every day.
    I ate some cherries from a tree in someone’s backyard while sitting on their high fence so I could get at the ripe ones. Eventually they noticed me and told me to go, only eat those that hang over the fence.
    I ate some flower heads, possibly chamomile. If not, then something very similar.
    And ants.

    Animanarchy wrote on June 20th, 2013
    • And followed that up by catching a crayfish (looked like it was in mid-copulation, the other got away) and two more oysters, which I carried back to camp in a rinsed peanut butter container. On the way I found two mushrooms. They were the popular white kind with brown frills underneath commonly sold in grocery stores. One was average store size and the other was as big as my palm.
      Back near camp I went about preparing to cook the crayfish and oysters in a glass jar. I heard some noises from a big metal shed with wooden beams so I went around to investigate. There was a family of raccoons climbing up the wall beams to the roof ones. They were scared of me but I decided to give them the oysters as a present so I climbed up after them by a corner, which made them more scared. Five or so went out on the roof beams, which I’m not crazy enough to monkey bar across (it’d be like a 20 foot drop) but one shrunk back into the corner. I got close and held out the oysters near its face and I heard possibly the most despairing noise I’ve ever heard from one of the raccoons on the roof beams. It was sort of a squeal that actually sounded like, “No!” So rather than wait to see if the raccoon I had cornered would grab an oyster from my hand I left them in front of it and went back to cooking the crayfish.
      I cut off its head and left it in a small amount of water in the jar over a little fire. It’s body and head were still alive. The body was moving a bit and so were the antennae and eyes. The water wasn’t boiling but bubbles were coming out of the head. I regretted its suffering but I wasn’t going to damage it any further because that would have made my meal messy. I watched, a bit disturbed, but overall fascinated. Even though the shell was turning red it was still moving. I had my face up really close watching, looking it in the eyes.Then all of a sudden the bottom of the jar exploded, extinguishing the fire with the released water and causing me to jump back, and both pieces of the crayfish were no longer moving. The shell wasn’t cooked enough to eat but I got a bit of meat from it.

      Animanarchy wrote on June 22nd, 2013

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