19

votes

Is DRIVING a neolithic agent of disease?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 29, 2011 at 4:11 PM

Thinking of this in a similar way that T.S. Wiley implicates electricity and the light bulb...

  • The automobile's popularity rise seems to chart a similar path as the rise in heart disease, obesity, etc

  • Driving can be seen as an acute stress, constantly having to make decisions to avoid accidents on even the most routine trips.

  • An acute stress that happens for a couple of hours every day could then be considered a chronic stress

  • I have noticed that when I get in the car soon after eating (within 15 mins), I do not digest my food as well. If this is true for others this can also have implications in nutrient deficiencies

  • If someone does get in an accident, even a minor one, it is highly possible that they will have been shaken up sufficiently to have increased cortisol/inflammatory cytokine production

  • Very few people in our modern world are able to de-stress, so if that chronic stress (from normal daily driving) or additional stress from an accident builds up it will stay elevated. Then we can see chronically high cortisol/CRP/IL6, etc

  • Driving has replaced walking for most people even for the shortest trips to the bank, grocery store, and so walking is often only done to and from the car

Has driving been erroneously neglected from the talk of Neolithic Agents of Disease?

Edit: Is there anything to help offset these new issues? Good sleep and meditation probably, but anything else?

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on September 17, 2012
at 11:03 PM

nice, I drive the same way ;)

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on September 17, 2012
at 09:05 PM

+1 for "dangerous idiocy".

Medium avatar

(10611)

on September 17, 2012
at 01:04 PM

Yeah. Stick with sitting in caves instead.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on September 17, 2012
at 01:02 PM

There are manifold changes affecting the psyche since paleo times. The larger impact is the replacement of hunting and gathering by mechanized transportation. The physiological effect is enormous and difficult to recreate.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on September 30, 2011
at 01:28 AM

Haven't had a car in five years so now when I Zipcar it I enjoy it. I agree though that all the stress of regular city driving (traffic commute I'm thinking) is not a healthy activity. Prolly one of those things that won't harm an otherwise healthy, fit person. I wouldn't worry about it. Eating before getting right in a car though I would try and avoid.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on September 30, 2011
at 01:06 AM

I can say that in so cal we don't get used to people cutting us off and let it go. lol.... though I try my best.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on September 30, 2011
at 01:05 AM

so droll Matthew ;)

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on September 30, 2011
at 12:06 AM

Unless it was by a herd of megaceros! lol

66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on September 29, 2011
at 11:07 PM

I don't mind driving, it's all the other idjut drivers on the road that raise my cortisol levels! I don't drive anymore than I absolutely have to now, I bike or walk.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on September 29, 2011
at 09:07 PM

Or the ones with the handicapped parking tag hanging from their mirrors.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on September 29, 2011
at 04:46 PM

Good point, Matthew. Maybe a new category is in order: Industrial Agents of Disease.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on September 29, 2011
at 04:32 PM

It may just be me being pedantic but there were no motor veichles around here in the neolithic :)

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on September 29, 2011
at 04:29 PM

It may just be me being perdantic but there were no motor vehicles around here in the neolithic :)

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on September 29, 2011
at 04:29 PM

It may just be me being perdantic but there were no motor vehicles around in the neolithic :)

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on September 29, 2011
at 04:25 PM

I have to learn how to drive now that I'll be working on our farm :( No public transportation there...

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15 Answers

5
E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on September 29, 2011
at 06:43 PM

Driving is probably one of the biggest NAD. Nothing good comes from sitting in a box.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on September 17, 2012
at 01:04 PM

Yeah. Stick with sitting in caves instead.

4
Medium avatar

(10611)

on September 29, 2011
at 06:16 PM

Toolmaking is human behavior. But at some point toolmaking moved us from paleo to neo.

The motor vehicle comes pretty far along after the original wheel, but it definitely aids and abets Neolithic diseases. As a walker I've come to realize how hard it would have been to have only legs for transportation. Grok probably lived no further than 5 miles from food and water.

You've left out one thing in the list. Grok didn't have to worry about getting run over.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on September 30, 2011
at 12:06 AM

Unless it was by a herd of megaceros! lol

3
06325b762f78a2b8aaa977161cca4a1f

(539)

on September 30, 2011
at 02:41 AM

Yes. For me, driving is definitely a neolithic (or industrial) agent of disease. I have a one-way 50 minute commute. I get that terrible I-don't-even-know-I'm-stressed kind of stress. The kind where you wind up drained or cranky without any clear reason. It kind of reminds me of the feeling I get when I'm operating without adequate sleep.

Generally I try and listen to some "educational" or health-related podcast during the drive. It's probably a subconscious attempt to gain more knowledge about health, so I can later on try to mitigate the ill effects the driving is causing me. Ugh, it's just so roundabout.

3
Fe33d1321dad116f6fedd60266d0498b

on September 30, 2011
at 02:08 AM

Driving, the act thereof, is probably pretty harmless in small doses. But when it's taken the way many people do- at 30 minutes at a time, twice a day, sitting down in box isolated from the world and the people/things with which you are interacting (the other "idiot drivers" who wait too long at lights, don't check their blind spots, etc etc)- it's antisocial, the standard commuting. Interstates don't do any better, and may actually be worse- because the consequences of making a mistake are greater, be it your mistake or the mistake of others.

Public transit is a step up- you're not driving, really, but rather just... in a room with people you don't always know. Biking and walking are probably best for regular transportation.

3
Medium avatar

on September 29, 2011
at 06:07 PM

Driving is really my only day-to-day source of stress in my life, but it's about 35-40 minutes a day and not constant, so I don't think the stress per se is as damaging as the exhaust etc. I'm usually completely calm 99% of the time but enter an all-consuming rage every time one of these Portland drivers puts my life at risk. I really need to rein in the honking/creative gestures/expletives but it has become autonomic at this point.

If you drive in a place like southern California, you have so many people speeding and cutting you off that you just let it go, but here the problem is a collection of myopic stoners whose dangerous idiocy should be impossible.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on September 30, 2011
at 01:06 AM

I can say that in so cal we don't get used to people cutting us off and let it go. lol.... though I try my best.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on September 17, 2012
at 09:05 PM

+1 for "dangerous idiocy".

3
3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on September 29, 2011
at 04:48 PM

I think you've got something here; your list of driving issues is terrific.

I have a short commute, and used to have a long one. Both of them are incredibly stressful experiences, and I often regret driving to work at all. So much so that despite the crappy Eugene weather, I've tried to plan ways to bike to work; unfortunately, that eats up too much time -- nearly an hour each way, versus 12 minutes. Sigh.

2
1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

on September 17, 2012
at 08:49 PM

My husband and I just got rid of both our vehicles Prior to moving to Warsaw, Poland a week ago. While we are a lot more stressed being in A foreign country where we don't know the language, I have to say, using public transport and walking has greatly improved our sleep, we are eating less, and for sure getting more sunshine so maye our D levels will hold better this winter without a lot of supplements. Just a week in to it and I'm already a believer.

2
5b69a02dadcae753771921d913909215

(1457)

on September 30, 2011
at 01:25 AM

Ironically enough, I love "driving" but decided to sell my car. I have been spending more time at the racetrack and less on the public roads lately. For me, it's a hobby/passion to race/drive but for daily transportation in a big city over little distance it's just a big headache and not worth the cost, monetary or otherwise.

2
6229cd9a7ca9882590259fae022e2647

(3209)

on September 29, 2011
at 05:39 PM

I think it definitely is if you live in a ruralish area and travel by major highway instead of the interstate. Cars with magic tree air fresheners and stuffed animals in their back window will be the death of me! I get so aggravated with them driving 53 mph that I am super stressed by the time I get home.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on September 29, 2011
at 09:07 PM

Or the ones with the handicapped parking tag hanging from their mirrors.

1
Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on September 17, 2012
at 09:50 PM

One of the main rules I maintain for myself, out of courtesy to all other drivers on the road, is... have as little affect on other drivers as possible. So in other words, when I am cruising down the freeway, none of my actions should cause any other driver to have to brake, slow down, swerve, or really take any action of any kind.

Now, I am definitely one of the fast drivers in SoCal that Travis refers to in his answer, but I never cut people off. In fact, fast drivers rarely do. It is the slow drivers who cut people off. Slow drivers cause most of the accidents too, because they are most often totally unaware of those behind them (and those around them). There is nothing more frustrating than a slow, unaware idiot on the road. If you ain't got no place to be and I am behind you and you try to block me... ha! Good luck. I will go around you faster than Bill Clinton can pull his zipper up, and without shame either. So when someone gets a sudden urge to hypocritically play "road police", I just go around them. Now... I am not saying that I cut through traffic at 110mph and expect everyone to get out of my way. No. That would surely create it's own set of problems. What I am saying is that I drive reasonably, but with purpose, and I really wish others would do the same. I make green lights. I am not indecisive or hesitant, and I always have somewhere to be.

As long as I do not get stuck behind someone who likes to suck time out of my life for no reason by blocking me, then I usually travel from point to point stress free with no problems. I am perfectly relaxed zooming to my destination, aware of all vehicles in my vicinity (that includes front, back, and both sides) at all times. No exceptions. No excuses. You may hate me, and call me dangerous, but I have been driving this way for over a half a million miles in about 2 dozen different cars, and I have never once caused an accident and rarely ever get tickets of any kind. Fast, aware driving with no accidents and no tickets is probably less stressful than slow, unaware driving with accidents and tickets.

64433a05384cd9717c1aa6bf7e98b661

(15236)

on September 17, 2012
at 11:03 PM

nice, I drive the same way ;)

1
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on September 17, 2012
at 02:18 PM

There is one other factor beyond the lack of mobility and stress, in that, inhaling diesel fumes can cause heart disease as the particles are really burned (oxidized) toxic fats that have been aerosolized and get breathed in, thus quickly absorbed through our lungs.

So, driving, biking, jogging, or just living near roads/highways where trucks or diesel powered busses frequently pass is probably not a good idea.

see: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/231190.php

and: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110713211942.htm

1
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 17, 2012
at 01:51 PM

I certainly think that driving has come at the expense of some of our health. But for me, a 50 minute drive twice a day allows me to live in an area with less congestion, fewer stresses, and an ability to get out and enjoy nature.

So it may increase risk since I do not exercise as much, but it certainly reduces my total stress. Plus, I enjoy being in the car. I listen to my podcasts and books on tape, and get an opportunity to be by myself and think.

1
Fd7b128cf714044a86d8bd822c7a8992

(4292)

on September 17, 2012
at 01:44 PM

Yes - as someone who has no license or car, the difference between my outlook on transportation and my coworkers' outlooks is incredible. For me, transportation is a mindful experience (it takes significant energy to go any respectable distance on a bike/on foot); for them it's mindless. For me, it's a reminder of why I care about the planet; for them it's just a chore that they try to ignore the ecological impact of. My form of transportation contributes to neighborhoods and community development (walkable areas,community life - which is also very Paleo!); theirs contributes to interstates, soulless suburbs, and strip malls.

That said, bike commuting can also be a stressor, since I have to constantly avoid insane Miami drivers who don't see me and are going much faster than I am, talking on their damn phones, not looking at the road. Getting in a bike/car collision is just as harmful as a car/car collision. But those things are more the fault of the cars I have to deal with, rather than being inherent problems of bike commuting.

0
Ba1c998b18470309687f07606767668a

(161)

on September 17, 2012
at 10:42 AM

I'd suggest reframing this question to look at driving in the context of daily modern life to see if it is a root cause, or perhaps if driving and the stress coming from driving is a symptom of deeper causes and it's perhaps more fruitful to look at root causes.

If people seem to be in a collective state of stress while driving, is it because of the cars and the roads, or is there perhaps something else going on that was present before you got in the car?

For example, people might spend a lot of their driving time going to work. What is this 'work' thing, and is it perhaps where a source of stress is. Perhaps the mental condition of many people on the road is already plunging into fight or flight because driving will have become so heavily associated with work?

Similar arguments to be made for any other social ill or social pressure - these things may manifest when you get into a car, but the car is not the cause.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on September 17, 2012
at 01:02 PM

There are manifold changes affecting the psyche since paleo times. The larger impact is the replacement of hunting and gathering by mechanized transportation. The physiological effect is enormous and difficult to recreate.

0
C2450eb7fa11b37473599caf93b461ef

on September 30, 2011
at 11:06 AM

This is a great question. I wonder if meditation or some other sort of similar stress reduction activity would offset the stress response. I have a 20 minute commute each way, but it's usually after running around getting kids ready, and not being quite as early as I'd like to be, so I'm pretty aware of how stressful that 30 minutes or so of my morning is. Afternoons aren't as bad--I'm a teacher so I'm not commuting during the major snarls.

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