An evolution question

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 16, 2013 at 3:04 AM

In an interesting question I recently came across, I found this statement, from one of the answers, rather compelling:

to live a long, healthy, post-reproductive lifespan, we want our bodies to concentrate on maintenance and repair. To do that we must use modern science that tells us that we must regulate the hormonal nutrient sensors that, when kept low, turn up the genetic expression of maintenance and repair.

My question is, why would the nutrient feedback system have evolved in such a way that maintenance and repair are emphasised when there is a nutritional deficit?

Doesn't it make more sense that the body can allocate more resources towards repair when there are more nutrients?



on March 16, 2013
at 03:31 AM

Nutritional deficits are overrated.

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3 Answers


on March 16, 2013
at 02:48 PM

It sounds like an Art de Vany quote to me. It certainly reflects his current thinking. The point that's being made is that up until the time we reproduce, hormones and other bodily functions lead us to a point where we can reproduce. After that, the point is we essentially become useless from an evolutionary perspective and that the best we can hope for is to maintain and repair what we've got. You've evolved as far as you are going to. It's up to the next generation to evolve further.

I'm not sure whether I agree or not. I suppose I don't really care.

If you regulate the hormonal nutrient sensors (keep insulin levels low and constant ie stay away from sugar), then you can improve your chances (genetic expression) of maintenance and repair (staying healthy).

He doesn't say so in the quote, but if you eat sugar, it throws your hormones, particularly insulin and leptin, your body spends its time refinding its balance (homeostasis) and so you can't maximise your ability to maintain and repair ie you'll get fat and sick.


on March 16, 2013
at 03:14 PM

I have wondered the same thing. Probably our ancestors didn't live very long post-reproduction, I'm guessing the average lifespan was something like 30-35. So from an evolutionary perspective we don't have a lot of experience past age 30-40.

One aspect of fasting diets that has been pretty well established is that, relieved of the burden of digesting food, the body takes this time to rebuild and repair itself. Obviously if you fast for a week or something then that puts stress on the body, but short-term fasting gives the body an opportunity to maintain itself.

I think this makes sense from an evolutionary perspective since this is just part of having an efficient metabolism. While we evolved I'm sure that meals were irregular, so it was important to be able to metabolize whatever food was found when it was available, and store extra calories as fat, but then be able to rebuild and repair when the food wasn't available. In other words we had to evolve to be able to go without food for a day or three.



on March 16, 2013
at 02:49 PM

I am not sure if I am understanding your question correctly. The way I understand it is you want to know why we evolved to maintain and repair our bodies rather than repair our nutritional deficits. Am I correct?

Well, to answer your question - evolution made us for one purpose and one purpose only - to procreate. All the mechanics of it point only in one direction - to survive until our child bearing age and produce offsprings.

All the maintenance and repairs happen after that. If you can maintain your health - you die. If your body no longer can repair itself - it dies. This is the law of nature. Maintenance overrides repair because you need it on a daily basis. Repair is for emergencies only.

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