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Did pre-historic people really live healthy?

Commented on March 12, 2014
Created March 09, 2014 at 10:14 AM

The Paleo diet plan sounds very interesting and makes real sense - if man had been surviving best on certain foods for a million years, why exchange it for crap produced in the last thousand?

But some questions that has been bothering me is this: Did pre-historic people really live healthy on such a diet? Did they live as long as people do now?

One of the biggest advances of modern living is the increased longevity of life. (But I see this is blotched by the easy spread of diseases and the dependence on medical science.) Such longevity was not the part of Paleolithic era at all. So the question is, does following a Paleo diet decrease your longevity?

And also, what sort of evidence do we have that Paleolithic people did indeed live a much healthier lifestyle than modern humans do on the low-fat high-carb high-sugar diet?

7778c4438a8c0afeca56189a8865400b

(0)

on March 12, 2014
at 08:42 AM

This is a comment, not an answer.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on March 09, 2014
at 01:08 PM

Kresser kind of gets it. He realizes that it's multifunctional. But he only pays lip service to keeping your mind and body active. By the time he starts flogging the dietary supplements I can feel dementia setting in...my tuna sandwich eating 88 year old parents play card games, travel and do yard work instead. Living is first and foremost moving around.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on March 09, 2014
at 12:36 PM

Sort of. Anthropologically they had an expected life span of 40 years, but only 60 as an expected natural death life span (us average is 86). So unnatural death has a big effect, but is not the whole story. Sanitation and broad access to foods play a big part too.

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3 Answers

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96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on March 09, 2014
at 12:28 PM

Yes, they did live longer healthier lives.

This is a common misconception. People confuse average lifespan with longevity.

We have far less childbirth deaths, deaths of children, deaths by infection, broken leg, and deaths by sabertooth tiger today. see:

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/bone-dating-life-span/

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/hunter-gatherer-lifespan/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compression_of_morbidity

http://chriskresser.com/how-to-prevent-spending-the-last-10-years-of-your-life-in-a-diaper-and-a-wheelchair

Medium avatar

(10611)

on March 09, 2014
at 01:08 PM

Kresser kind of gets it. He realizes that it's multifunctional. But he only pays lip service to keeping your mind and body active. By the time he starts flogging the dietary supplements I can feel dementia setting in...my tuna sandwich eating 88 year old parents play card games, travel and do yard work instead. Living is first and foremost moving around.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on March 09, 2014
at 12:36 PM

Sort of. Anthropologically they had an expected life span of 40 years, but only 60 as an expected natural death life span (us average is 86). So unnatural death has a big effect, but is not the whole story. Sanitation and broad access to foods play a big part too.

0
5661757f5a7ad1d09c44d7b3ce9b533f

on March 12, 2014
at 12:47 AM

The better question is not "Did pre-historic people really live healthy?"

The better question is "Did they live healthier than their contemporaries, for whom all other confounding factors were the same?"

7778c4438a8c0afeca56189a8865400b

(0)

on March 12, 2014
at 08:42 AM

This is a comment, not an answer.

0
Medium avatar

(10611)

on March 09, 2014
at 01:34 PM

Of course not. Modern paleo is an optimizing tool to improve longevity based on what our ancestors ate. Looking at one factor in Paleo that positively impacts longevity: getting rid of obesity. This on its own is good for 1-2 years (see table 4):

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3222401/#!po=31.2500)

Two practices in Paleo diet - avoiding processed foods (especially grains, added sugars and vegetable oils) and reducing carbohydrates - work strongly to eliminate obesity.

I would argue that there are other factors in emulating paleo lifestyle which are as important to increasing longevity. Being active (hunt-and-gather behavior) reduces systolic blood pressure and shifts lipids to higher HDL. Both of these changes cause significant reduction in CVD risk. Incorporating more meat in the diet helps preserve muscle, especially in the elderly.

Net/net I'd expect a shift to paleo-style living and eating would add about 5 years to lifespan.

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