Just ran across this post by Dr. Art Ayers of Cooling Inflammation:
"Agriculture focused on seed harvest results in a dramatic shift in diet and disease. Communicable disease was not a problem for hunter/gatherers, because of the necessarily widely distributed small population groups. Agriculture concentrates populations around the crop lands and increases the benefits of physiological energy expenditures on heightened immune activity to provide consistent protection against pathogens. Agriculture required chronic inflammation for disease protection.
Inflammation triggered by cues in the agricultural diet would have a high selective advantage. Individuals who increased their chronic level of inflammation in response to high blood sugar, compounds produced during cooking, i.e. AGE, vitamin C deficiency, vitamin D deficiency (low exposure to sun) and/or omega-3 oil deficiency, would have survival advantage in high population densities associated with agriculture."
He is not advocating inflammation, but I thought it was interesting. Do you think he is correct?
asked byDave_S_ (20436)
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on November 26, 2010
at 05:04 PM
The thing is, the people I know with inflammation problems do NOT have good immunity. They are sick people who get even sicker easily. The body has many lines of defense that do not require high levels of inflammation. Personally, I think the levels we are seeing of inflammation in current societies are the result of poor environmental conditions and poor diet and I think that kind of thing is NOT good for neither health nor for immunity. I think this kind of high inflammation is simply a matter of the body being out of balance due to environments it is not adapted to. I do not believe it is actually an adaptation and I don' tthink that being kind of sick is good for preventing sickness. I think a healthy balanced body can attack germs effectively while still being at the peak of health. THere are a lot of interesting theories that turn out later to be completely incorrect. I will not be surprised if this turns out to be one of those theories. In order to alter my stance, I will need to be seeing some kind of evidence other than supposition.
on November 26, 2010
at 01:56 PM
Yes, but what's more I think we can generalise and say that hunter-gatherers would also benefit from a greater tendency to inflammation (more omega 6 to omega 3, for example), than would be optimal for us. Inflammatory response is central to the body's responses to all manner of damage and it seems highly plausible that in a paleo context there would be an advantage to over-doing things and definitely being able to fight off infections and heal potentially deadly wounds than, while incurring a bit of collateral damage that will only reduce your health in a chronic, low level, long term way. I presume that this is why so many people suffer from auto-immune and inflammatory conditions today, because we evolved with a preference for a few false positives (giving us a bit of arthritis) rather than false negatives (bleeding to death or letting an infection get out of control). This tendency has doubtless only been compounded by neolithic lifestyle.
Of course what we don't know is whether this means that we should adapt by deliberately trying to lower inflammation now, for example by taking 2:1 o-3:06 rather than 1:2. I think it's certainly better to err on the side of more omega 3, whether or not it's reproducing typical paleo patterns, so long as there's a sign of too much inflammation. It's also worth bearing in mind that some counter-intuitive things occur with inflammation: e.g. reducing chronic inflammation can actually improve the efficiency of acute inflammatory responses, for example, after exercise.