5

votes

What things are paleo but not healthy?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 27, 2011 at 7:54 AM

Just because we did it in the paleolithic doesn't mean it's automatically healthy for any of us. One thing that comes to mind is the inhalation of smoke from campfires, which is believed to damage lungs given long term chronic exposure. What other things were probably paleo but are probably not healthy?

A048b66e08306d405986b6c04bf5e8e4

on June 08, 2013
at 03:54 AM

Otzi the Iceman probably never smoked, but his lungs were as black as any smoker's because he probably spent so much time around campfires and hearths

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on April 17, 2012
at 06:37 PM

Actually, hunter-gatherers were more egalitarian then agricultural societies.

3ff1d99d7cdd1e55ac424da91cbc1ea0

(255)

on February 03, 2011
at 12:11 PM

Evidently not. Strap a squirrel to your chin as a filter.

3ff1d99d7cdd1e55ac424da91cbc1ea0

(255)

on February 03, 2011
at 12:09 PM

Healthy for the bear though.

3ff1d99d7cdd1e55ac424da91cbc1ea0

(255)

on February 03, 2011
at 12:09 PM

I think experiencing and surviving great extremes probably makes you more hardy and healthy than living in a constant temperature. I remember Art De Vany swears by cold showers to some extent to provoke some kind of beneficial response.

2507b557331c8a674bc81197531e609a

(4994)

on February 02, 2011
at 10:34 PM

Woah, you're taking my bear comment way too seriously, twas a little joke :D

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 30, 2011
at 08:40 PM

So, thanks Andrew!

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 30, 2011
at 04:15 PM

At this stage, the mobilization of all male group members in a raiding party (as opposed to a hunting party) for the purpose of dawn raids on another group's sleeping quarters shifts the tactical advantage from defenders to attackers, capitalizing on the advantages of surprise and numerical superiority. Of the many cave paintings from the Upper Paleolithic, none depict people attacking other people. There is no known archaeological evidence of large scale fighting until well into the Aurignacian." from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prehistoric_warfare

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 30, 2011
at 04:14 PM

Andrew is right, says wikipedia: "This period of "Paleolithic warlessness" persisted until well after the appearance of Homo sapiens some 0.2 million years ago, and ended only with a shift in societal organization in the Upper Paleolithic.

630c94db61d822a0855533fafbeb11bc

on January 30, 2011
at 01:26 AM

"Of all the scores of tools in the great Paleolithic atelier, there is not a single weapon designed for war. There is no antecedent for a state of war in Pleistocene primal groups." - Coming Home to the Pleistocene @James & @Paleolady, I am interested in the source of your claims. Chimps and humans diverged 6+ MYA so assumptions based on their modern behavior actually constitutes 12+ million years of evolutionary divergence. Inferences from primate behavior in this way are limited.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 28, 2011
at 05:37 AM

You'd worry about it at least a bit if you lived in bear country. Even the grizzlies will break into your house in order to raid the fridge. And people have been killed. A bear will bite your face off in order to get a bite of your sandwich as well. Luckily, it doesn't happen too often though. But those of us who camp in bear territory have to be very careful about food storage. Food in the tent can mean a bear will come and kill you for it. It is believed that strawberry chapstick was enough incentive for one bear to almost kill a small boy sleeping in his tent.

2b4f887f5fd32a37c6038eb0aaaf3bf5

(1648)

on January 27, 2011
at 09:55 PM

Actually, there was warfare, perhaps not in the form we think of it today, but there was inter-tribal warfare. It didn't always result in death, but sometimes it did. This behavior can be seen in chimps as well (so therefor it was likely present in early man). It's all about competition for resources (food & women). An interesting book on origins of violence: Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on January 27, 2011
at 06:58 PM

It's a matter of practice... my tiny mom gets into a coconut hilariously fast. With a knife that looks like a machete, but still. Throwing it down against a very hard surface also works.

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on January 27, 2011
at 06:50 PM

Don't forget tribes raiding other tribes for womenfolk...

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on January 27, 2011
at 06:37 PM

@ Peter D, I wonder what the murder rate of the African tribes you mentioned would be compared to modern Africa. I doubt they are much different.

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on January 27, 2011
at 06:35 PM

Were did you read that hunter-gatherers did this? Do you have a source?

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on January 27, 2011
at 05:57 PM

I bought a coconut and it took me about an hour to open it. I barely could even eat any of the meat haha!

2507b557331c8a674bc81197531e609a

(4994)

on January 27, 2011
at 05:23 PM

Gosh good point! I'm always worrying about when I'm gonna be eaten by a polar bear ;D

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 27, 2011
at 04:52 PM

I've seen seasoned coconut handlers rip open a coconut fairly fast using a nice sharp edge of a tree stump or a wooden axe. I don't think they are that hard to get into once you are skilled. But I agree with you on the nuts. One of my mechanic friends actually built a nut dehuller so he could quicken dehull the macadamias from his tree. Otherwise it takes forever!

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 27, 2011
at 04:48 PM

Yeah, and then she waits until you are asleep and all paleolithic women surely carried knives..

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 27, 2011
at 04:47 PM

You sit around campfires much? The wind shifts erratically and you often end up sucking up a few lungfulls before you have time to scramble to a new spot. PLus you often end up hoving over it to get it started.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 27, 2011
at 04:45 PM

That's neolithic too. Polar bears are not picky about what flesh they eat.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 27, 2011
at 02:49 PM

I edited and changed warfare into murder

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on January 27, 2011
at 02:36 PM

I am with Andrew on this, population density was too low in the paleolithic to allow the emergence of wars.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 27, 2011
at 01:58 PM

Andrew, maybe warfare is not the best word choice. Maybe murder would have been better. I remember reading african anthropology and archeology and the books talking about homocide. It was actually not common at all, but still higher than in areas that we consider unsafe by modern, western standards. I know about the controversy and the difficulty of interpreting data of 20th century HGs, as you mentioned in your comment. Also, I just read Napoleon Chagnon. And I know the Yanomamo are not true hunter-gatherers, probably what you would cal delayed return HGs? Thanks for your comment.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 27, 2011
at 01:56 PM

Andrew, maybe warfare is not the best word choice. Maybe murder would have been better. I remember reading african anthropology and archeology and the books talking about homocide, that was actually not common at all, but still higher than in areas that we consider unsafe by modern, western standards. I know that about the controversy and the difficulty of interpreting data of 20th century HGs, as you mentioned in your comment. Also, I just read Napoleon Chagnon. And I know the Yanomamo are not true hunter-gatherers, probably what you would cal delayed return HGs? Thanks for your comment.

9e2180e7bfd688eb52d4f0c536172024

(2004)

on January 27, 2011
at 01:31 PM

I'm with Pieter on this. Humans are aggressive, cunning bastards. It is baked into our DNA. If you doubt this, observe a room full of toddlers.

630c94db61d822a0855533fafbeb11bc

on January 27, 2011
at 10:27 AM

I gotta challenge the claim that warfare is paleo. I mean sure, there were probably skirmishes here and there, but warfare is typically motivated by land or labor (slaves). Land and forced labor go hand-in-hand with the agrarian revolution. The modern anthropological examples of warfare in hunter-gatherer bands are found in delayed-return (fixed domicile/territory) bands, but not in immediate-return (free-range humans) bands. And... delayed-return bands usually arise because of geography (island populations) or agrarian civilizations surrounding them and isolating them by legal borders/bounds

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9 Answers

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1
Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

on January 27, 2011
at 01:04 PM

Extreme cold in winter, extreme hot in summer: even in the tropics, when you are far away from the ocean there is considerable heat variation, and coping with this must have been a big challenge for nomadic people, living on tents who did not possess the advantages of a stable house. Trepanation by the tribe shaman must have been really tough, too!

3ff1d99d7cdd1e55ac424da91cbc1ea0

(255)

on February 03, 2011
at 12:09 PM

I think experiencing and surviving great extremes probably makes you more hardy and healthy than living in a constant temperature. I remember Art De Vany swears by cold showers to some extent to provoke some kind of beneficial response.

8
2507b557331c8a674bc81197531e609a

(4994)

on January 27, 2011
at 09:05 AM

I would say being eaten by a bear probably wasn't all that healthy.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 27, 2011
at 04:45 PM

That's neolithic too. Polar bears are not picky about what flesh they eat.

2507b557331c8a674bc81197531e609a

(4994)

on January 27, 2011
at 05:23 PM

Gosh good point! I'm always worrying about when I'm gonna be eaten by a polar bear ;D

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 28, 2011
at 05:37 AM

You'd worry about it at least a bit if you lived in bear country. Even the grizzlies will break into your house in order to raid the fridge. And people have been killed. A bear will bite your face off in order to get a bite of your sandwich as well. Luckily, it doesn't happen too often though. But those of us who camp in bear territory have to be very careful about food storage. Food in the tent can mean a bear will come and kill you for it. It is believed that strawberry chapstick was enough incentive for one bear to almost kill a small boy sleeping in his tent.

2507b557331c8a674bc81197531e609a

(4994)

on February 02, 2011
at 10:34 PM

Woah, you're taking my bear comment way too seriously, twas a little joke :D

3ff1d99d7cdd1e55ac424da91cbc1ea0

(255)

on February 03, 2011
at 12:09 PM

Healthy for the bear though.

6
239c765fa12bf9fa6b7a7bc0686e019d

on January 27, 2011
at 10:21 AM

clubbing women over the head and dragging them into a cave

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 27, 2011
at 04:48 PM

Yeah, and then she waits until you are asleep and all paleolithic women surely carried knives..

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on January 27, 2011
at 06:35 PM

Were did you read that hunter-gatherers did this? Do you have a source?

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on April 17, 2012
at 06:37 PM

Actually, hunter-gatherers were more egalitarian then agricultural societies.

3
1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on January 27, 2011
at 01:16 PM

For me, this is a question that is related to fail-eo. The paleo but bad for you includes nuts and seeds ground up and fried or baked to become some sort of neolithic reinactment. If you stay away from processessing the hell out of your "unprocessed" foods then you'd be good on that front.

In other cases it is important to measure how much you eat of something lest it be not as good for you. HGs didn't have access to handfulls of nuts, they had to shell them individually. I personally have overeaten on coconut flakes because they are so readily eaten whereas when I had an actual coconut it was hard as heck to eat. Be wary of foods that would have been difficult to obtain and now are available by the pound.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on January 27, 2011
at 06:58 PM

It's a matter of practice... my tiny mom gets into a coconut hilariously fast. With a knife that looks like a machete, but still. Throwing it down against a very hard surface also works.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 27, 2011
at 04:52 PM

I've seen seasoned coconut handlers rip open a coconut fairly fast using a nice sharp edge of a tree stump or a wooden axe. I don't think they are that hard to get into once you are skilled. But I agree with you on the nuts. One of my mechanic friends actually built a nut dehuller so he could quicken dehull the macadamias from his tree. Otherwise it takes forever!

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on January 27, 2011
at 05:57 PM

I bought a coconut and it took me about an hour to open it. I barely could even eat any of the meat haha!

2
89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 27, 2011
at 08:13 AM

As always, the poison is in the dose. But

honey

hallucinating drugs

murder or attempt to(edit: original word was warfare, see comments)

musculoskeletal injuries, trauma and accidents

do not seem healthy to me...

On the other hand, the more I think and read, the more I'm getting convinced that almost every change in lifestyle and behaviour from our paleolithic past, has some unintended consequence, often not beneficial. The only few things I'm pretty sure of that are good, are modern medicine for diseases that are non-diseases-of-civilisation (broken leg, infection, ...) and the relatively speaking safe environment.

You know, even a relatively speaking bad thing as a worm infection, seems to have consequences: relation with allergies and asthma. I wouldn't be surprised if even smoke from campfires does not seem to be bad after all...

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 27, 2011
at 02:49 PM

I edited and changed warfare into murder

630c94db61d822a0855533fafbeb11bc

on January 27, 2011
at 10:27 AM

I gotta challenge the claim that warfare is paleo. I mean sure, there were probably skirmishes here and there, but warfare is typically motivated by land or labor (slaves). Land and forced labor go hand-in-hand with the agrarian revolution. The modern anthropological examples of warfare in hunter-gatherer bands are found in delayed-return (fixed domicile/territory) bands, but not in immediate-return (free-range humans) bands. And... delayed-return bands usually arise because of geography (island populations) or agrarian civilizations surrounding them and isolating them by legal borders/bounds

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on January 27, 2011
at 06:37 PM

@ Peter D, I wonder what the murder rate of the African tribes you mentioned would be compared to modern Africa. I doubt they are much different.

9e2180e7bfd688eb52d4f0c536172024

(2004)

on January 27, 2011
at 01:31 PM

I'm with Pieter on this. Humans are aggressive, cunning bastards. It is baked into our DNA. If you doubt this, observe a room full of toddlers.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 30, 2011
at 08:40 PM

So, thanks Andrew!

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 30, 2011
at 04:15 PM

At this stage, the mobilization of all male group members in a raiding party (as opposed to a hunting party) for the purpose of dawn raids on another group's sleeping quarters shifts the tactical advantage from defenders to attackers, capitalizing on the advantages of surprise and numerical superiority. Of the many cave paintings from the Upper Paleolithic, none depict people attacking other people. There is no known archaeological evidence of large scale fighting until well into the Aurignacian." from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prehistoric_warfare

630c94db61d822a0855533fafbeb11bc

on January 30, 2011
at 01:26 AM

"Of all the scores of tools in the great Paleolithic atelier, there is not a single weapon designed for war. There is no antecedent for a state of war in Pleistocene primal groups." - Coming Home to the Pleistocene @James & @Paleolady, I am interested in the source of your claims. Chimps and humans diverged 6+ MYA so assumptions based on their modern behavior actually constitutes 12+ million years of evolutionary divergence. Inferences from primate behavior in this way are limited.

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on January 27, 2011
at 02:36 PM

I am with Andrew on this, population density was too low in the paleolithic to allow the emergence of wars.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 27, 2011
at 01:58 PM

Andrew, maybe warfare is not the best word choice. Maybe murder would have been better. I remember reading african anthropology and archeology and the books talking about homocide. It was actually not common at all, but still higher than in areas that we consider unsafe by modern, western standards. I know about the controversy and the difficulty of interpreting data of 20th century HGs, as you mentioned in your comment. Also, I just read Napoleon Chagnon. And I know the Yanomamo are not true hunter-gatherers, probably what you would cal delayed return HGs? Thanks for your comment.

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on January 27, 2011
at 06:50 PM

Don't forget tribes raiding other tribes for womenfolk...

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 30, 2011
at 04:14 PM

Andrew is right, says wikipedia: "This period of "Paleolithic warlessness" persisted until well after the appearance of Homo sapiens some 0.2 million years ago, and ended only with a shift in societal organization in the Upper Paleolithic.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on January 27, 2011
at 01:56 PM

Andrew, maybe warfare is not the best word choice. Maybe murder would have been better. I remember reading african anthropology and archeology and the books talking about homocide, that was actually not common at all, but still higher than in areas that we consider unsafe by modern, western standards. I know that about the controversy and the difficulty of interpreting data of 20th century HGs, as you mentioned in your comment. Also, I just read Napoleon Chagnon. And I know the Yanomamo are not true hunter-gatherers, probably what you would cal delayed return HGs? Thanks for your comment.

2b4f887f5fd32a37c6038eb0aaaf3bf5

(1648)

on January 27, 2011
at 09:55 PM

Actually, there was warfare, perhaps not in the form we think of it today, but there was inter-tribal warfare. It didn't always result in death, but sometimes it did. This behavior can be seen in chimps as well (so therefor it was likely present in early man). It's all about competition for resources (food & women). An interesting book on origins of violence: Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence.

1
5672b2d190891342389e764cc4056ca9

(1304)

on January 27, 2011
at 11:26 AM

Charred meat

Psychological traumas

Head traumas (especially if you are a woman and get clubbed pretty often)

0
5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on January 27, 2011
at 06:22 PM

Eating brains in this day and age (mad cow disease and all).

0
Ceda025d1f349bc43be115a5f9199fb1

(501)

on January 27, 2011
at 01:04 PM

Tobacco smoking, used by Native Americans in a vastly more healthy way than we now use it, is bad for you.

0
3ff1d99d7cdd1e55ac424da91cbc1ea0

(255)

on January 27, 2011
at 09:06 AM

I'm not sure inhaling smoke from campfires would have been a massive part of life in the past. Surely you'd just avoid sitting downwind of the fire? Or use a primitive George Foreman. Honey is probably a good shout, but I wonder how much you'd realistically be able to harvest and eat.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 27, 2011
at 04:47 PM

You sit around campfires much? The wind shifts erratically and you often end up sucking up a few lungfulls before you have time to scramble to a new spot. PLus you often end up hoving over it to get it started.

3ff1d99d7cdd1e55ac424da91cbc1ea0

(255)

on February 03, 2011
at 12:11 PM

Evidently not. Strap a squirrel to your chin as a filter.

A048b66e08306d405986b6c04bf5e8e4

on June 08, 2013
at 03:54 AM

Otzi the Iceman probably never smoked, but his lungs were as black as any smoker's because he probably spent so much time around campfires and hearths

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