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Food: When the Stone Age Meets Modernity

Updated: Jan 22, 2022

A malamute is as close to a stone age dog as you will get. A pity that most dog food is crap-- not what your puppy was meant to eat.

But you eat crap too.

Your dietary needs were established in the Stone Age. If you survived to 30, you would live a long, healthy life -- without the need for drugs and doctors, that keeps a lot of us alive today.

It is a basic truth that a varied, natural diet keeps you alive.

History teaches us that in any plague, it is the weakest and most vulnerable who die first — generally those with the poorest diets, living in the most unhygienic conditions. Keep in mind that not everyone died from bubonic plague — perhaps 50 to 70%. Survivors were often well-off or just ate better.

We have learned from COVID 19 is that while the condition puts older people at risk, some older people do remarkably well. People as old as 106 have recovered successfully while people in their 20s have died. People with optimum diets do better. The malnourished die.

A longevity diet therefore is always an antiviral one since it enhances the immune system and reduces the chronic inflammation that causes many of the diseases of civilization for cancer to heart disease.

Such a diet usually means a lower BMI since it must eschew processed foods and emphasize variety, to supply the widest range of nutrients. As I said, we were omnivores, evolved to need a lot of different kinds of foods, supplying a very wide range of nutrients and supporting a diverse microbiome. Open your mouth. Look inside. Your teeth tell you what kind of animal you are.

Many studies have shown that obesity is as life threatening as smoking; in the case of COVID 19 much more so. Eat crap food and you end up in the ICU like Boris Johnson who is just 55 and overweight. Eat better food like heath conscious Prince Charles, who is 71 and very careful about what he puts in his mouth, and it’s just a mild infection.

Sure, Donald Trump survived-- with only early detection and advanced drugs to stop the virus from propagating and probably a couple of doctors always in the next room. Most people aren't so lucky. Like all viruses, COVID must be dealt with before it takes hold.

The death rate in Japan, with only a voluntary lock down, was amazingly low. By contrast, the death rate in Canada with stringent lock down rules was many times higher, even if you figure in reporting errors or governmental obfuscation of statistics. Of course, there are different variants of the virus. And the Japanese have better hygiene.

But…. only 24 % of Japanese are obese. In Canada it is well over 60% — and this in the nominally higher risk groups. Obesity puts extra stress on all organs and their functions and hamstrings the immune system. As a result, fat 20-year-old can be more at risk from a virus than a fit 70-year-old. And a fat five-year-old can develop something that looks like Kawasaki Disease.

The Japanese diet has its pitfalls. Too much salt (heart disease) and iodine (Hashimoto’s Disease) for one thing. But it is still a lot healthier than any Western diet, which emphasizes processed foods, with loads of not just salt but sugar, unhealthy fats, hormones and antibiotics. Yeah, I know — that shit tastes good. But it’s still shit. You might say that our civilization is built on shit. When we first invented agriculture, we used our own shit as fertilizer, which led to all sorts of nasty diseases.

Japanese still eat a lot of raw food, rice rather than bread, and vegetables, usually in smaller servings. And they are very, very into hygiene.

Diet skeptics will say, “ What about Italy and the much touted “healthy” Mediterranean Diet?--how come so many Italians got COVID?: Sorry — only about 40% of modern Italians follow the Mediterranean Diet, fewer in areas away from the sea like Lombardy which was hardest hit by the virus. The traditional Spanish diet as pretty healthy too — depending on region — but McDonald’s has conquered the world! Along with Chicago Pizza and microwave dinners.

The Myth of the Hunter

When zoologists study an animal, one of the first things they look at is dentition, which tells them a lot about what the animal evolved to eat. As I said, open your mouth and look. Relatively weak jaws with insignificant canines, clearly designed for chewing and grinding. Our Pleistocene diet included a lot of nuts and seeds, berries, wild fruits and vegetables, birds eggs, and insects, supplemented by birds, fish and small animals.

Nope, we did not eat three meals a day. We grazed a lot. Or gorged on one big one. No, breakfast is NOT the most important meal of the day!

As I mentioned, this narrative is not popular with the mostly male paleontologist community who imagine themselves as the guy below. Maybe we should include anthropologists as well.

Stephen, the nerdy anthropologist, just wishes that sexy Diana in the Dean’s Office would appreciate the Power of his Mind.

Stephen spent six months studying the Inuit, who treated him kindly and confirmed all his biases, not bothering to mention that, traditionally, their women were polyamorous because men tended to die young in hunting accidents. Nerdy anthropologists die early from heart disease and cancer. The Eskimo women took one look at Stephen and thought "Ewwwww".

Stephen will nowhere with sexy Diana.

The myth of the Hunter is no doubt also appealing to Joe the Sub Manager, doing Excel day in and day out and fantasizing about screwing the office girls. Sorry Joe, it s a myth. And Gold’s Gym won’t help you. Women are not necessarily impressed by large pecs.

Tarzan was well-groomed, with a name brand loin cloth--muscular but not excessively so, polite, genuine, honest, and smelled really, really good thanks to the best jungle male colognes. Hair style by Maurice, downtown.

Totally in love with Jane because she is the only human woman he had ever met. Great for a couple of nights in the jungle.

Jane does not care about Tarzan's hunting skills.....

In the Stone Age, prowess as a hunter was not as important for men's success with women as a host of other factors. Maybe because in the era of MegaFauna, before the Eskimos were marginalized to the arctic in the north and other hunters and gatherers to the deserts and jungles in remove locations, it was a major challenge to kill something big . In those days, big was really big! You try to kill a sabre-tooth tiger with a flint knife! It took cooperation, coordination with the whole group-- including the women. Not to mention wolves.

Cave art, the first attempts at human wish fulfillment, notwithstanding, Man was probably more of a scavenger than a hunter, picking the bones of large animals killed by alpha predators. That was the easy way!

Work. Ugh.

Our ancestors did “work” from time to time, but not all the time.

My point is that an individual good with a bow and arrow or spear was of little use by himself. Cooperative agency made all the difference. Bands leveraged “reverse dominance” and egalitarianism to get tight efficient teamwork — rather like the British SAS during world war II, where rank was less important than efficiency. There were no leaders or “chiefs” in prehistoric bands. Even today, in the remaining marginalized hunting and gathering groups such as the !Kung, the best hunters got a lot of good nature ribbing about their failures and flaws to keep them in place. It is called “insulting the meat”.

The Patriarchal Diet?

In addition, since, much of the food was gathered — not hunted — often by women — and everything shared, men were simply not as important as important as we like to think nowadays. In any case, the death rates for male children in particular were higher. Clearly, males were the Weaker Sex. Sorry Tarzan. Sorry Stephen. Sorry Joe. To add insult to injury most these early societies were “matrist”, if not actually matriarchal.

Sorry guys you're wankers.

Women choose men on the basis of personality — and also on their ability to sing, dance and play and otherwise entertain — oh, and give them great orgasms -- things that Lord Greystoke never learned from the Great Apes.

The Myth of the Hunter of course assumes scarcity of resources, which came about through climate change just 10,000 years ago and led to those "civilizations", with conditions exacerbated by inequality and hoarding--dominance societies, whose tensions were expressed in violence and war. Not to mention, overwork for most people.

In prehistory we didn’t have to work hard — in fact ” no more than 15 hours a week. Even today somewhere in our heads, a bell goes off after 15 hours. Although we go to the office 40 hours a week, actual productive work is still only about 15 hours. The rest? Various forms of play. And play is not about dominance, it is about keeping the game going. It aint productive.

As I have said, dominance cultures generate tensions -- anxiety, depression, envy, jealousy. In the office, nobody likes the guy who wins all the time  although the may suck up to him. Dominance relationships also breed dishonesty.

"Winning" ends a game, usually on a sour note. So, your team lost. And hate those fuckers on the other side of the stadium. Nurture does not change nature. It just adds to the bricolage.

Man the Sperm Donor

Here's he kicker. Many hunting and gathering cultures practice -- or at least believe in -- partible paternity, which means that women do not assume their children are born from one set of sperm. According to this idea, I woman may sex with several men to endow her child with the attributes of each. The smart guy. The fun guy. The strong guy. The sexy guy. Etc.

Man is not a Hunter -- he is a Sperm Donor!

The Myth of Man the Hunter is in its own way toxic.

If not only screws up our relationships with each other and work and at home, it leads to us poisoning our bodies. For example, It presupposes a carnivore diet based on meat for protein, which lacks variety and starves the body of the nutrients it needs from other food sources. We evolved as foragers, not primarily hunters, with women and their groups gathering most of the food from multiple sources. We're omnivores. A lot of our protein came from insects and small animals and birds. Certainly not from cows. Some indigenous peoples have evolved to handle high protein diets - notably the Eskimos-- but their diets are not just seal meat and are more varied than you think. Still, it has an impact on their longevity. The Eskimos survived -- but not in as good health as indigenous peoples with a wide variety of good sources.

Their dogs, as true carnivores, did much better.

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