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.