7

votes

Why do Northern Europeans do so well on grains and dairy?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 24, 2010 at 1:19 PM

A follow on from the this question regarding smart counter arguments to paleo:

http://paleohacks.com/questions/10840/what-are-the-smartest-anti-paleo-arguments-and-our-responses-to-them/10958#10958

How can I argue against my very tall family members who grew up on cheese, milk and bread? Are they better adapted? According to various accounts such as by the Romans they have been tall for centuries so it's not just since the advent of modern civilization and medicine.

Now I don't know all the details regarding 'diseases of civilization' because I don' have time to look it up. Maybe they get loads of heart-attacks.

So have the Northern Europeans adapted to dairy and grains better? Should those with this kind of background adjust their diet away from strict paleo / primal?

Top 10 Tallest People

  1. Netherlands
  2. Sweden
  3. Denmark
  4. Norway (noted that they've been tall since before the time of the Vikings
  5. Estonia
  6. Finland
  7. Germany
  8. Greece
  9. USA 10.Australia

Source: http://uk.askmen.com/top_10/travel/top-10-tallest-countries.html

Yes, great scientific source ;)

6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on February 09, 2012
at 01:48 AM

Unlike Adulescens Appetens, I am only able to upvote this once.

E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

(4347)

on December 01, 2011
at 07:10 PM

I'm of Swedish descent on my mother's side, and almost everyone has issues with gluten, whether celiac or non-celiac gluten intolerance. Most are OK with dairy, though. I know most of our family recipes involved dairy and/or fish, but not a lot of wheat.

D3f3b91d1dd9ce60865654faeb2ec809

on October 21, 2011
at 05:39 PM

I can't vote this up enough.

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on October 19, 2011
at 06:24 AM

I was going to say this. IGF-1 is a growth promoter, whether it is height, muscle or an existing tumor. It makes sense that Scandinavians and Massai who are both well adopted to dairy are the tallest people in the world.

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on October 19, 2011
at 06:24 AM

I was going to say this. IGF-1 is a growth promoter, whether it is height, muscle or an existing tumor. It makes sense that Scandinavians and Massai who are both well adopted to dairy are the tallest people in the world. Even thought Ive had chronic health problems since 13 yrs old Im still 6'2, used to drink a gallon of milk every few days growing up.

199e1758b73a72416fba6c10a55f93f3

(203)

on September 01, 2011
at 09:25 AM

The details are off, I think (infant mortality in Holland is higher than in the rest of the Western world, universal suffrage wasn't introduced until 1917 and the gap between rich and poor was fairly steep until the early 20th century) but since WWII the income gap has indeed narrowed significantly and overall wealth has increased tremendously.

F6c1df7d5699661bd1f0d6d0a6c17fc6

on September 01, 2011
at 01:02 AM

Size is an evolutionary advantage in colder climates. So it might not be related at all.

72d63b3161a4c1dfed9df3fd9a80339d

(0)

on August 24, 2011
at 05:30 AM

Off coourse we took all the best women with us. Why wouldnt we? :-) No but more seriously Melissa i think you are right. we are Better adapted to Dairy but not Wheat.

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on May 05, 2011
at 07:27 AM

Messi is under 5'7". 'nuff said.

9e7039b63b656582f66d84c5255b436d

(1132)

on March 23, 2011
at 12:24 PM

@NomadicNeill, personal preferences, I go for darker skinned women myself.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on March 23, 2011
at 11:16 AM

Anonymous downvote : explain your position or your immaturity one.

8f4ff12a53a98f3b5814cfe242de0daa

(1075)

on March 23, 2011
at 12:49 AM

Height seems to mostly relate to genetics, not food. Over time what your eating will have an impact, but just looking at current consumption to height is a bit strange.

Medium avatar

(5639)

on March 22, 2011
at 10:55 PM

I'm 5'6" and I'm of "Northern" European ancestry. Irish/French/Danish/German Gypsy specifically. Lot's of women "go for" me!

1ac8e976f84cb2566ecfbbcce1817351

(211)

on February 20, 2011
at 07:50 AM

I'm also interested in learning what the Osage Indians ate

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on September 26, 2010
at 04:16 PM

That's actually really really sad, if true. Which I don't think it is.

65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

(6082)

on September 24, 2010
at 08:17 PM

Or, maybe a taller person would be a more imposing threat. Most animals try to make themselves appear larger when trying to ward off an enemy. Conversely, I find a dude who is 6'8" 250 pounds to be much more scary than a guy who is 5'5" and 140 pounds.

691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on September 24, 2010
at 05:14 PM

yea i think if you take care of your celiacs, they can grow tall too. too late for me i guess, unless i can get a 30-year-old paleo growth spurt. i will keep you all posted.

8e3782b68e033763485472f414f507a5

(2433)

on September 24, 2010
at 05:07 PM

"Taller is better" is speculation based on modern day preferences. If I had to hunt to survive perhaps I'd rather be short to reduce the frequency of prey seeing my big head sticking out.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on September 24, 2010
at 03:38 PM

Yes, celiac disease is VERY common in Sweden. Everyone knows what it is and every grocery store has a great selection of gluten-free foods. I was very pleased how little trouble I got at school dinners for example when I requested gluten-free food.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on September 24, 2010
at 03:29 PM

I think there is a lot of sexual selection happening in these countries too. If you are a short man, you just aren't getting a date.

88905cfc5bb098ad3830671a1af373a8

(803)

on September 24, 2010
at 03:20 PM

And didn't Dr. Eades have something about excessive high fructose corn syrup intake also leading to abnormal height increases?

154bf5c84f7bd9f52b361b45d05dbc3a

(1215)

on September 24, 2010
at 03:04 PM

Same goes for the woman, very good looking. But my theory is that the Vikings raided Europe and took all the best women back home with them.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on September 24, 2010
at 02:48 PM

The women are impressive as well. hahaha But seriously, this is my point. They **seem** well adapted and healthy and tall, but then diabetes hits them once they get older. This does not fit my definition of "well adapted." I'm open to other definitions of the term, but I'd like OP to be more specific.

F5698e16f1793c0bb00daea6a2e222a4

(678)

on September 24, 2010
at 02:25 PM

Interesting. I'm of Swedish decent and I have zero problems with dairy or wheat. My father was thin and healthy until his 50's and now he's put on considerable weight on the same diet he's always eaten. Based on this and what I've read I've decided to remove grain and reduce dairy because I believe they are harmful. As you say, even though I'm asymptomatic today the diet "does catch up to them".

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on September 24, 2010
at 02:08 PM

taller= more adaptive. there is a reason women don't go for short men!

65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

(6082)

on September 24, 2010
at 01:38 PM

The body doesn't grow much when it is lacking in nutrients or in poor health.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on September 24, 2010
at 01:32 PM

Define "do so well".... height is only one marker of health.

286a4ff7c362241c5c4b020df4972212

(1288)

on September 24, 2010
at 01:28 PM

Are you saying that tall people have a better chance of living longer?

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12 Answers

12
Be1dbd31e4a3fccd4394494aa5db256d

(17969)

on September 07, 2013
at 12:44 AM

May I just point out that the entire world eats grains in large quantities. X population eats grains and isn't completely fucking dead compared with the rest of the world is not the kind of reasoning we want to be committing ourselves to.

I am not anti-dairy, although the quality of the stuff in North America puts me off.

There are populations who can tolerate gluten better than others. And perhaps some grains aren't enough to completely kill people or hinder development, but does that mean that they wouldn't be better off without grains?

D3f3b91d1dd9ce60865654faeb2ec809

on October 21, 2011
at 05:39 PM

I can't vote this up enough.

6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on February 09, 2012
at 01:48 AM

Unlike Adulescens Appetens, I am only able to upvote this once.

8
5c8a675951eb32b8c19e9fe4e764294c

(168)

on September 24, 2010
at 01:27 PM

In Staffan Lindeberg's "Food and Western Disease" he has an intriguing section on the consumption of dairy triggering abnormal amounts of IGF-1, leading to abnormal height increases in dairy-eating populations - at the possible cost of type I diabetes and MS and other autoimmune disorders.

88905cfc5bb098ad3830671a1af373a8

(803)

on September 24, 2010
at 03:20 PM

And didn't Dr. Eades have something about excessive high fructose corn syrup intake also leading to abnormal height increases?

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on October 19, 2011
at 06:24 AM

I was going to say this. IGF-1 is a growth promoter, whether it is height, muscle or an existing tumor. It makes sense that Scandinavians and Massai who are both well adopted to dairy are the tallest people in the world. Even thought Ive had chronic health problems since 13 yrs old Im still 6'2, used to drink a gallon of milk every few days growing up.

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on October 19, 2011
at 06:24 AM

I was going to say this. IGF-1 is a growth promoter, whether it is height, muscle or an existing tumor. It makes sense that Scandinavians and Massai who are both well adopted to dairy are the tallest people in the world.

4
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on September 24, 2010
at 03:33 PM

I have read that populations with a history of milk consumption are better adapted to it and have better lactose tolerance. This makes since as in a food poor environment, those who did not do well on milk, with milk being a primary food source, would have been selected against. This takes many generations, but some populations have been consuming milk for many generations. Of course, we are comparing only against other populations. To say one populatoin does better than another is not the same as saying this is the healthiest food available for any population. It still may not be. It is easy to look healthy when everyone around you is sick!

Also for consideration, northern europeans have a higher percentage of celiac disease in the population and the same goes for gallbladder disease. Gallbladder disease is linked to high carb consumption. It is likely that although norther europeans may do better than other populations on milk, they actually do worse on grain and are NOT so well adapted to grain intake. High grain consumption does not have nearly as long a tradition as does high milk consumption.

691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on September 24, 2010
at 05:14 PM

yea i think if you take care of your celiacs, they can grow tall too. too late for me i guess, unless i can get a 30-year-old paleo growth spurt. i will keep you all posted.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on September 24, 2010
at 03:38 PM

Yes, celiac disease is VERY common in Sweden. Everyone knows what it is and every grocery store has a great selection of gluten-free foods. I was very pleased how little trouble I got at school dinners for example when I requested gluten-free food.

E36cb992cf0a5eba8b97a359c15f38b3

(4347)

on December 01, 2011
at 07:10 PM

I'm of Swedish descent on my mother's side, and almost everyone has issues with gluten, whether celiac or non-celiac gluten intolerance. Most are OK with dairy, though. I know most of our family recipes involved dairy and/or fish, but not a lot of wheat.

4
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on September 24, 2010
at 02:15 PM

I lived in Sweden and I was let's say... very impressed with the men there. Tall, handsome, raised on Vasterbotten Cheese, milk, and rye crisp bread. They also drink a lot and eat tons of candy. I think the difference between them and Americans is while some of those foods aren't awesome, they aren't malnourished. I think most American food is high in calories and low in micronutrients.

I dated a Swedish guy for a long time and it was eye-opening meeting his family. The sugar does catch up to them when they are older. His parents were type-2 diabetic and his older brothers were slowly getting the beer paunch.

It's interesting because the Estonian and Finnish population, which is genetically distinct from the Scandinavians and may be less agriculture-adapted, there seem to be more issues with dairy. Many of my Finnish friends had given it up for oat milk because they suffered acne from it.

154bf5c84f7bd9f52b361b45d05dbc3a

(1215)

on September 24, 2010
at 03:04 PM

Same goes for the woman, very good looking. But my theory is that the Vikings raided Europe and took all the best women back home with them.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on September 24, 2010
at 03:29 PM

I think there is a lot of sexual selection happening in these countries too. If you are a short man, you just aren't getting a date.

F5698e16f1793c0bb00daea6a2e222a4

(678)

on September 24, 2010
at 02:25 PM

Interesting. I'm of Swedish decent and I have zero problems with dairy or wheat. My father was thin and healthy until his 50's and now he's put on considerable weight on the same diet he's always eaten. Based on this and what I've read I've decided to remove grain and reduce dairy because I believe they are harmful. As you say, even though I'm asymptomatic today the diet "does catch up to them".

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on September 24, 2010
at 02:48 PM

The women are impressive as well. hahaha But seriously, this is my point. They **seem** well adapted and healthy and tall, but then diabetes hits them once they get older. This does not fit my definition of "well adapted." I'm open to other definitions of the term, but I'd like OP to be more specific.

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on September 26, 2010
at 04:16 PM

That's actually really really sad, if true. Which I don't think it is.

9e7039b63b656582f66d84c5255b436d

(1132)

on March 23, 2011
at 12:24 PM

@NomadicNeill, personal preferences, I go for darker skinned women myself.

72d63b3161a4c1dfed9df3fd9a80339d

(0)

on August 24, 2011
at 05:30 AM

Off coourse we took all the best women with us. Why wouldnt we? :-) No but more seriously Melissa i think you are right. we are Better adapted to Dairy but not Wheat.

3
Fe29f6658ce67c1ecc4a22e960be7498

(2997)

on May 05, 2011
at 12:11 AM

I've referenced this book before but I'll do it again here: http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Nutrition-Your-Genes-Traditional/dp/0615228380/ref=pd_sim_b_9 (by Catherine & Luke Shanahan). There's a lot of accessible science presented too.

The premise isn't about 'paleo' but that traditional diets around the world have certain trends in common and that these diets also are very healthy.

Sergey already makes the point, but she says that fresh and RAW milk is healthy (but processed milk is NOT), and the cultured products like kefir are very healthy too. And that breads were made from sprouted and/or fermented grains - which dramatically changes the chemistry of the grain on the body.

She also claims that people have a certain 'genetic momentum' (I can't remember if that's her phrase or mine). So if your ancestors switched to a modern diet, it might take a generation or two or three for the bodies to break down. She mentions Pottenger's Cats as one example.

I learned a couple really important lessons from this book. First, I started making kefir and sauerkraut and eat both regularly - yum!. Second, I was impressed by the explanation of how our bodies interact with the foods we eat. That our digestion isn't just a 'break it down and use it for new stuff' process, but an intricate conversation where biological responses begin the instant foods are tasted and continue through-out processing, switching genes on and off and adjusting other systems. I had never imagined digestion as so... elegant and it was a real eye-opener.

3
8021ea3940df66820628d5bc5c29377c

(198)

on March 23, 2011
at 12:42 AM

I am from Latvia, which is next to Estonia. It is true, that people consume fair amount of dairy products in the form of regular milk, butter, smetana (sour cream), cheese and also kefir which is very popular in all countries of former Soviet Union. Yogurt came only recently. Bread is consumed with every meal! However, I think rye bread is more popular than wheat bread, and it is prepared from fermented rye which probably has fewer anti nutrients and easily digestible. This is the best Latvian bread http://www.laci.lv/index.php/eng/produkti/maize/

Here is the video on how this bread is prepared http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3v5iLBOyJmA Sorry, for posting links to non-paleo items.

The staple food also includes white potatoes and buckwheat. Buckwheat with milk was my favorite breakfast meal.

I ate like that for 24 years, then came to US and got Ulcerative Colitis after about year and a half. Now I do much better on paleo.

3
0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on September 24, 2010
at 02:49 PM

Height is affected by a variety of factors not just diet although getting enough protein and calories while growing is important.

The Dutch people may not always have been the tallest, I cant be totally certain of the facts mentioned though. Why Are the Dutch So Tall?

In the space of about 150 years, the Dutch have gone from being one of Europe's smallest people to the tallest in the world. A look at why the Dutch are so tall.

The most convincing argument for why the Dutch have grown so tall so recently was put forward by J.W. Drukker, a professor of economic history at the University of Groningen. His studies revealed that the Dutch growth spurt of the mid-19th century coincided with the establishment of the first liberal democracy. Before this time, Holland had grown rich off its colonies but the wealth had stayed in the hands of the elite. After this time, the wealth began to trickle down to all levels of society, the average income went up and so did the height.

Since then, the gap between the rich and poor in Holland has remained relatively narrow, and the country now has some of the best pre- and postnatal care in the world. This is in direct contrast to America, for example, where the population, once more than 3 inches taller than the average Dutchman, has not increased in height for 25 years.

This paper is also interesting Long run trends in the heights of European men, 19th-20th centuries.

This paper presents 5-yearly data on the height of young adult men in 15 Western European countries for birth cohorts from the middle of the 19th to the end of the 20th century. The results indicate that from the 1870s to the 1970s average height increased by around 11cm, or more than 1cm per decade. The main finding is that for the northern and middle European groups of countries the gains in height were most rapid in the period 1911-15 to 1951-55, a period that embraced two World Wars and the Great Depression but also witnessed advances in public health and hygiene. For the southern countries growth was fastest in the period 1951-55 to 1976-80. These findings suggest that advances in height were determined not only by income and living standards but also by a variety of other socioeconomic trends.

199e1758b73a72416fba6c10a55f93f3

(203)

on September 01, 2011
at 09:25 AM

The details are off, I think (infant mortality in Holland is higher than in the rest of the Western world, universal suffrage wasn't introduced until 1917 and the gap between rich and poor was fairly steep until the early 20th century) but since WWII the income gap has indeed narrowed significantly and overall wealth has increased tremendously.

2
A0843083b9642a8af1005af99b09ce42

on September 24, 2010
at 01:48 PM

I often wonder about these questions too. Have you read "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon or "Nutrition and Physical Degeneration" by Weston A. Price? They studied those cultures, and basically found that these cultures used raw milk/products and fermented them. The grains were also soaked/fermented to neutralize the toxins. When "paleo" foods are not as available, I think this is the next step to take in the diet.... Man is resourceful and we learned back then how to neutralize or reduce toxins in certain foods and still fill the larder.

As far as your question on tall people: Osage Indians were among the tallest of the Native Americans. What about them? I am interested in looking into their traditional diet. If anyone knows, please let me know. ~~~s

1ac8e976f84cb2566ecfbbcce1817351

(211)

on February 20, 2011
at 07:50 AM

I'm also interested in learning what the Osage Indians ate

1
669790861549f3c6d54d88a65296ed19

(452)

on March 22, 2011
at 10:18 PM

I'm Dutch,short (5' 7'') and gluten&cow's dairy intolerant.....so I guess I'm a Dutch outcast;), but it could also be because of my Lyme's Disease...or both. My father was a baker,go figure....

1
4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

on September 24, 2010
at 01:34 PM

Dairy adaptation. I believe in it. In addition, I believe raw grassfed milk is 100x better than our pasteurized junk even tho it isn't optimal

However, bread is not as prevalent as oats

Oats have the prolamin avenin, while similar to gliaden(wheat) it is far far milder, in addition, the traditional oat preparation included fermenting and soaking. This helped mitigate the avenin.

Edit: autocorrect changed avenin to avenue...

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on March 23, 2011
at 11:16 AM

Anonymous downvote : explain your position or your immaturity one.

0
93ae9f2d376e5426e891a9b58d8302fa

(2936)

on October 19, 2011
at 03:17 PM

I'm a 6'2" fullblood Swede who has developed severe carbohydrate issues. I'm not sure what these studies are talking about, but they sure dont apply to me. I know there's a spreading notion that nordics are uniquely pale-skinned because our long history of eating grains leaves us dietarily deficient in vit.D, so we need more sunlight exposure, which is hard to come by when your bundled up in the winter darkness, and blah blah blah, it all comes down to a wheat-and-barley climate extending more northerly than anywhere else in the world. Sounds like a crock of crap to me, or at least something you wouldn't wanna stake your life on.

0
5c51e7906813e011cb240c71a8052bbd

(49)

on October 19, 2011
at 03:04 AM

The Maasai are taller than Dutch or Scandinavian people so it seems like dropping grains could make these people even taller. Its probably the dairy and the animal protein leading to increase in growth hormone.

I dont think it has anything with "doing well on grains"..they dont do well on grains, lots of people get celiac and other deseases. Before it wasnt as much of a problem because people used to ferment everything. Dairy well, theres a clear adaption. The Vikings used to thrive on meat, milk and whey..talk about growth there. The Dutch height increase i think is more from a increas

Also remember, the average paleolithic man was estimated to be 179 cm. Thats quite alot considering they didnt have regular access to calories like us. The plain indians might have been even taller. They didnt eat dairy did they? Was it maybe the animal protein, fat and the constant fasting there that saw a rise in growth hormone?

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