9

votes

Modern human taller and living longer = healthier?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 15, 2011 at 1:20 AM

A couple of nights ago I had dinner with a friend. We spent nearly four hours arguing about food and diet. It was great. He is a teacher and 100% believes in conventional wisdom. Our views were exactly opposite. He believes in the low fat, high carb, whole grain garbage. (He is also only 45 and has been on statins for 5 years and now is on antihypertensives) I had an answer to every one of his arguements except one. He believes that humans as a whole are living longer now due to our diet. He also threw out the argument that we are now taller than ever before in our history. My response was about hygiene and antibiotics and medical services such as heart caths and cancer treatment that have created a society of sick but ageing people. My question to you wise folks is 1) How would you have countered that argument and 2) is it true that we as humans are now much taller than our ancestors were?

Be gentle with me, it's my first question. :)

25329057c9d5f6364a74787c8c2302e7

(806)

on July 17, 2011
at 02:17 PM

Neat. Got a link or source I can read?

Ac74a86b3ed0211ca7b120b53ea6a8c2

(583)

on July 16, 2011
at 09:48 PM

Good one! Thanks.

Ac74a86b3ed0211ca7b120b53ea6a8c2

(583)

on July 16, 2011
at 04:33 AM

That's a really good point. I am short myself but attracted to tall men. Hmmm...

76d0056c773673e24b8c57a685d504ed

(132)

on July 16, 2011
at 01:23 AM

Brain size would naturally decrease if body size decreased, based on allometry.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on July 15, 2011
at 05:01 PM

We see girls going through puberty younger and younger, it's got to be at least partly affected by all the hormones in food.

Ac74a86b3ed0211ca7b120b53ea6a8c2

(583)

on July 15, 2011
at 04:51 PM

I'm a nurse too. How can you be a AHA instructor and not teach low fat stuff? When I am at work I have to be very careful about what I say. I can't stray too far from conventional wisdom or "they" will have my head.

Ac74a86b3ed0211ca7b120b53ea6a8c2

(583)

on July 15, 2011
at 04:48 PM

Interesting little tidbit. Hadn't heard that.

Ac74a86b3ed0211ca7b120b53ea6a8c2

(583)

on July 15, 2011
at 04:47 PM

I agree. I actually asked him if he were to have to choose between butter or canola oil his first response was neither then when pushed he said canola. I was stunned! Now I am going to forward to him that video Tom Naughton posted about how seed oils are manufactured. I think he would be a great one to convert as he is a high school science teacher.

Ac74a86b3ed0211ca7b120b53ea6a8c2

(583)

on July 15, 2011
at 03:02 PM

Thanks Wendy, great article. This is the best group for information! Awesome stuff.

Ac74a86b3ed0211ca7b120b53ea6a8c2

(583)

on July 15, 2011
at 02:59 PM

Hmmm, good point. I bet this does have an impact.

Ac74a86b3ed0211ca7b120b53ea6a8c2

(583)

on July 15, 2011
at 02:57 PM

Love this site. Awesome ammo. Thanks so much!

36b7a2776d028dc8d5743e2e56ece34d

(812)

on July 15, 2011
at 01:35 PM

MelissaHGL posted about this not too long ago

36b7a2776d028dc8d5743e2e56ece34d

(812)

on July 15, 2011
at 01:34 PM

"But early agriculturalists experienced nutritional deficiencies and had a harder time adapting to stress, probably because they became dependent on particular food crops, rather than having a more significantly diverse diet." Key word is early, agriculturalists and diverse diet, after they worked out the kinks agriculturalists were for the most part just as tall and healthy as their hunter=gatherer counter-parts.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 15, 2011
at 12:22 PM

Our brains are smaller then cro-magnon and Neanderthals but that doesn't necessarily mean we are less smart, brain to body weight ratio is usually the best indicator of animal intelligence. It is interesting though that greenland inuit who eat the most animal foods of any culture have slightly larger brain cases as well.

Bee33f6da1beec1cf15e3e7003f0120d

(351)

on July 15, 2011
at 10:01 AM

Why were you having dinner with my husband? Seriously though, great question, look forward to reading some answers.

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e

(4583)

on July 15, 2011
at 03:56 AM

You can get some good "ammo" here: http://www.beyondveg.com/nicholson-w/angel-1984/angel-1984-1a.shtml

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on July 15, 2011
at 03:01 AM

Mostly lack of infections. We living in the affluent world really forget just how crappy it is to be constantly assailed by gnarly microorganisms.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 15, 2011
at 02:44 AM

I do think having access to pretty much unlimited carbohydrates during childhood has perhaps activated the "bean pole" gene in some people.

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13 Answers

5
64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on July 15, 2011
at 01:38 AM

As far as I understand humans got smaller in overall size and brain size at the start of the agricultural revolution.

Perhaps our recent size increases could be credited to the prevalence of growth-hormones and steroids in our milk and meat supply?

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on July 15, 2011
at 05:01 PM

We see girls going through puberty younger and younger, it's got to be at least partly affected by all the hormones in food.

76d0056c773673e24b8c57a685d504ed

(132)

on July 16, 2011
at 01:23 AM

Brain size would naturally decrease if body size decreased, based on allometry.

Ac74a86b3ed0211ca7b120b53ea6a8c2

(583)

on July 15, 2011
at 02:59 PM

Hmmm, good point. I bet this does have an impact.

Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on July 15, 2011
at 03:01 AM

Mostly lack of infections. We living in the affluent world really forget just how crappy it is to be constantly assailed by gnarly microorganisms.

3
D143c5e6da70b2cab829396e76f7151b

on July 15, 2011
at 04:47 AM

Here is an outstanding article from an anthropologist on stature, health and other related matters pre and post agriculture. She concludes at the end that "taller" does not in fact mean healthier bones (i.e. more dense).

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110615094514.htm

Also this is critical: While our age span is increasing, so is our MORBIDITY rate! Average is 7-10 years now. Morbidity is the length of time you are ill (i.e. have chronic disease) preceding death. Therefore, while people argue (in the CW world) that our lifespan is increasing...all we are really doing is keeping sick people alive longer. We've accomplished NOTHING.

Slam dunk on your friend....10 points for the Paleo world...

36b7a2776d028dc8d5743e2e56ece34d

(812)

on July 15, 2011
at 01:35 PM

MelissaHGL posted about this not too long ago

36b7a2776d028dc8d5743e2e56ece34d

(812)

on July 15, 2011
at 01:34 PM

"But early agriculturalists experienced nutritional deficiencies and had a harder time adapting to stress, probably because they became dependent on particular food crops, rather than having a more significantly diverse diet." Key word is early, agriculturalists and diverse diet, after they worked out the kinks agriculturalists were for the most part just as tall and healthy as their hunter=gatherer counter-parts.

Ac74a86b3ed0211ca7b120b53ea6a8c2

(583)

on July 15, 2011
at 03:02 PM

Thanks Wendy, great article. This is the best group for information! Awesome stuff.

3
36b7a2776d028dc8d5743e2e56ece34d

on July 15, 2011
at 01:31 AM

I'm not an expert but I'm pretty sure they have fossils of paleo Homo Sapiens being just as tall as modern humans.

We are taller than Homo Erectus which were taller than Australopithecus so I think height does have something to do with evolution.

Okinawans are pretty short so I don't think height has to do with longevity.

2
Fd60a1f94edf1343b9a5aa8b325252e6

on July 15, 2011
at 06:25 AM

Humans were taller before the agricultural revolution, and we are just now getting back to where we were as we have been consuming more animal products. In the 19th century plains indians were the tallest people on earth, and they refused to eat anything other than buffalo.

Ac74a86b3ed0211ca7b120b53ea6a8c2

(583)

on July 15, 2011
at 04:48 PM

Interesting little tidbit. Hadn't heard that.

25329057c9d5f6364a74787c8c2302e7

(806)

on July 17, 2011
at 02:17 PM

Neat. Got a link or source I can read?

1
5de2fffda92c0bf2be7ede10cad55546

(1781)

on July 16, 2011
at 01:34 PM

It seems we are not living longer after all.

http://www.ecademy.com/node.php?id=20711

Ac74a86b3ed0211ca7b120b53ea6a8c2

(583)

on July 16, 2011
at 09:48 PM

Good one! Thanks.

1
76d0056c773673e24b8c57a685d504ed

on July 16, 2011
at 01:20 AM

Taller humans could be an effect of natural selection: people choosing taller mates, thus having taller children over time. That's a pretty straight-forward biological answer and is probably not the whole truth.

I have heard that my generation (the 20-somethings) will be the first generation to not live longer than their parents, probably due to diet. So for now we can say, yes we are living longer for a whole host of reasons mainly better medical care, cleaner living, proximity to resources (food, shelter, etc...) but that may not always hold true. The living environment will probably persist for my generation, but diet will probably be the weakest link and decrease our chance of living as long as our parents did.

Ac74a86b3ed0211ca7b120b53ea6a8c2

(583)

on July 16, 2011
at 04:33 AM

That's a really good point. I am short myself but attracted to tall men. Hmmm...

1
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on July 15, 2011
at 05:32 PM

I think humans are living longer now vs. a few hundred years ago because of civilization. Buildings, heating and cooling, clean water, medicine, versatile food supply, etc. This is a relatively new phenomenon over the past 200-300 years, the estimated average life expectancy didn't get above 40 until the end of the 18th century, and then roughly doubled:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy

During part of this period I think the food supply got a lot better and people ate better, but over the past 50 years, I think this has reversed. I can't imagine anyone making the argument that the average food that the average person eats today is good for you, it is obvious from the worldwide stats that people are becoming less healthy every day.

1
Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on July 15, 2011
at 03:47 PM

I think you nailed it with how you responded to him.

Cancer, Obesity, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Autoimmune Disorders...

Which way is the trend going? ^^^ Up. On all accounts too.

That we are living longer is only more so a testament to the other things you threw out there like medicine, advanced surgical procedures, etc.

Besides, it only takes a moment of thought to realize that you gotta be outta your mind to seriously believe that refined sugars, bleached grain powders, and chemically deodorized oils from seeds is actually responsible for increased longevity of human life.

Ac74a86b3ed0211ca7b120b53ea6a8c2

(583)

on July 15, 2011
at 04:47 PM

I agree. I actually asked him if he were to have to choose between butter or canola oil his first response was neither then when pushed he said canola. I was stunned! Now I am going to forward to him that video Tom Naughton posted about how seed oils are manufactured. I think he would be a great one to convert as he is a high school science teacher.

1
095ef76482234d3db444b77d7ed01c29

(2755)

on July 15, 2011
at 03:34 PM

OP, you said quite a bit with, "sick but aging". I've noticed in my work that over the last 23 years I've spent as a paramedic and a nurse that even over the relatively short time (compared to human existance) since I got into medicine that people are sicker longer and more debilitated during their time of illness (morbidity) prior to death (mortality). Sure longetivity has increased but quality of life has gone down. Most of the people who reach advanced ages would have been better off to have died much younger rather than being confined to a bed for 15 years, unaware of their surroundings. Those who are aware are miserable.

I want do do as I've said for years, and as Sisson recently said, "live as long as I'm supposed to then drop dead." I remember when I was a kid, old people worked the fields and were productive then fell over dead while doing so... much better than rotting in a bed at the nursing home.

And as a 20 year AHA instructor, I share a big part of the blame for preaching low fat, low fat, 8 - 10 servings of grain a day... I still teach for them, but not that crap any more.

Ac74a86b3ed0211ca7b120b53ea6a8c2

(583)

on July 15, 2011
at 04:51 PM

I'm a nurse too. How can you be a AHA instructor and not teach low fat stuff? When I am at work I have to be very careful about what I say. I can't stray too far from conventional wisdom or "they" will have my head.

0
1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on July 15, 2011
at 11:55 AM

Has anyone taken an average brain case size of people from today's various cultures? I read somewhere that we lost quite a few CC's of brain matter during the agro period because of the poor diet and crowded (ie disease-ridden) living conditions. Wonder if that's changed or remained the same?

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 15, 2011
at 12:22 PM

Our brains are smaller then cro-magnon and Neanderthals but that doesn't necessarily mean we are less smart, brain to body weight ratio is usually the best indicator of animal intelligence. It is interesting though that greenland inuit who eat the most animal foods of any culture have slightly larger brain cases as well.

0
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 15, 2011
at 02:35 AM

I think I would have said those are two separate questions. Supposedly, people under 5 feet tall live longer. I think a lot of times when people say we're bigger and healthier than we used to be they are using data that only goes back to the industrial revolution or maybe feudal times. Moving to cities with cramped dark accommodations, having limited access to food, and huffing coal smoke day and night did a doozy on human health.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on July 15, 2011
at 02:44 AM

I do think having access to pretty much unlimited carbohydrates during childhood has perhaps activated the "bean pole" gene in some people.

0
E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 15, 2011
at 01:30 AM

I'm not an expert but I'm pretty sure they have fossils of paleo Homo Sapiens being just as tall as modern humans.

We are taller than Homo Erectus which were taller than Australopithecus so I think height does have something to do with evolution.

Okinawans are pretty short so I don't think height has to do with longevity.

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