Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Did our ancient ancestors really eat lots of grass?

Some time ago some articles appeared in the popular press indicating that our ancient ancestors were keen on eating grass. The measurement of 13C and 12C was made from samples of dental enamel in extinct human ancestors , and δ13C was calculated relative to a standard value. Indeed, δ13C values in enamel ultimately indicate the isotopic dietary carbon source came from plants. Rather than assuming that these results indicated plant consumption the Journalists should have considered whether animal consumption could lead to such values. After all if you eat meat\organs from species that are herbivores then your δ13C values would be similar to the value of what you consumed.

Anyway a letter rebutting these articles has appeared here:

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Barefoot running and 100 up

Hunter gatherers run barefoot as they do not wear shoes. Space age paleo practitioners run barefoot wearing a thing layer of protection ("barefoot" running shoes such as Vibram fivefingers etc). This provides some protection against sharp objects which helps to prevent laceration injury.

Barefoot running is best done on grass or a similar natural surface to reduce excessive impact from a hard surface.  If you are new to this then practice walking barefoot first to slowly condition your feet ie to let them adapt. Build up the distances slowly over a few weeks, or months, till you can comfortably barefoot walk 3+ kilometres.

Next is something a little more vigorous which could be a walk-run regime eg walk40paces then run10paces then walk 40. after a week or 2 or 3 then next week (or 2) run 20 walk 20 run20 etc etc

Another variant is to use the 100 up exercise. Starting with 10 or 20up and slowly building it up from there. Luckily the original text of the 100 up exercise is now available on line. Click here for The 100-UP Exercise book->

Also available is a chapter in a book which is on the 100up exercise.

The thing about running on earth or grass versus concrete is that the repetitive impact from concrete may accumulate over time and result in feet/knee\hip\back injuries. At present there is a massive experiment under way and in 10+ years we will know for sure if most barefoot runners can manage on these harder surfaces or not. Till then I'd run on grass or similar. Of course if you start off with existing health issues or do too much too soon then even grass will see you "run"into problems.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Space age paleo - we are stone agers living in the space age

If you have got this far you probably have the general idea that the paleo diet or approach involves mimicking certain things hunter gatherers did so as to obtain health benefits. Of course you could forsake civilisation and go and live in a cave in the middle of the wilderness. This would have advantages in that if you lived the life of a hunter gatherer then you would obtain all the health benefits. However, there would be disadvantages as well. Movies, books, internet, sanitation, modern medical care, overseas travel etc would not be possible as they could not exist in your chosen life way. Worms, dysentry, dehydration, starvation, venomous plants and animals, large hungry predators (man was the hunted as well as the hunter) no holds, no weapons barred fights with other huntergathers that make UFC MMA look like play. Basically, you would be sacrificing the benefits of the last 10,000 years or so of social and cultural evolution that has occurred since agriculture commenced.

In trying to obtain health benefits it is important to mimic the critical things that yield benefits and to ensure that the efforts taken yield the largest practical benefit. You certainly do not want to spend a lot of time and effort doing things without benefit or worse that are actually harmful and adversely impact your health.

Is diet the be all and end all of "Paleo" health practices? Of course not, the principle behind the paleo diet is right ie agriculture has been around for a short period of time in terms of evolution. The highly susceptible were weeded out in the first generation or so as they did not survive long enough to reproduce and or had offspring that were weak and became sick and died. Most of the rest of us live long enough to reproduce but our health is impacted by these "new" foods, or other factors, which still can result in chronic toxicity or can contribute to creating conditions that facilitate the development of disease over decades.

The aim is to identify and meld your paleo health practices into your space age life style. A space ager living a paleo based health lifestyle. Ultimately, whether you call it space age paleo, a stone ager living paleo in the space age or something else does not matter as it is merely you living a fully human, fully healthy life . The label is unimportant, only prudent action counts.

Friday, 30 August 2013

About this blog

In my youth, I spent time in the bush engaging in pursuits including camping, hunting& fishing, farming and played fighting sports. In the 1980s, while studying, heard about how K O’Dea (now Professor O’Dea) an Australian researcher had followed a group of sick westernised Aborigines going on walkabout (ie traditional lifestyle) for several weeks and watched them become fit and healthy....

It was obvious (to me anyway) that Professor O'Dea's research was spot on. It fitted in with my own life experience, work in biological sciences and wider readings. I experimented and was paleo - primal by the late 1990s (no one called it Paleo then - I used to say I was on a natural food diet). There were no books or web sites like now. Then Loren Cordain (whom I have never met) published his first book - I heard about it and got a copy straight away. Art De Vany’s first website appeared. Marks Daily Apple appeared (Mark Sisson's site). Nowadays there are many web sites and books on paleo\ primal\ caveman lifestyle. People trying to "go paleo" have access to huge amounts of information. Some of this material is excellent. Some of it is at best confusing and at worst inaccurate.

I write this Blog as a longer term paleo practitioner. I ask that you, the reader, use the information here after considering the following:

1. These are my personal views and may not necessarily represent those of past, present (or future) employers; or anyone else for that matter.

2. This blog is about non-occupational hygiene& health, and related topics. It does not cover workplace health & safety which is not discussed here.

3. You are responsible for your own health - you have a vested interest in the outcome.

4. This blog is information and not customised advice. My background is in health, hygiene and ergonomics - I am not a medical practitioner.

5. When trying new things procede cautiously so you reap the rewards and avoid pitfalls. To much, to soon can cause just as much damage as to little, to late.

6. There are natural laws: the dose (amount) determines the response and whether it is beneficial or harmful. The right nutrients, in the right amounts, will build up your body. The wrong nutrients\amounts will break it down. Inadequate physical activity will result in disease. To much physical activity, or the wrong type, will result in injury |(which can become disease).

7.There are a range of optimal dosages that lead to an optimal response... That doesn't mean keeping everything constant and unvarying: there is also a range of variation (amount; timing) that creates the optimal beneficial response. If you provide the right stimuli your body has no choice but to respond positively in the context of your current health status.

8. Links to external sites aren't written by me. I don't control the content or quality of such sites.

Oh, everyone says you have to have a disclaimer so:
If your life style consists of sedentary living, obesity, eating a junk diet food, avoiding nature and sunlight, insomnia and continual (dis) stress you expose yourself (and significant others) to a range of injuries and illnesses.
So, having said all that lets get on with discussing what's important.