In the 18880's we discovered germs. We saw them as universally bad. Now we are starting to understand that we are in reality a huge ecosystem of bacteria. It may be that the health of this ecosystem is the most important aspect of our health. A healthy Biome = a healthy me.
This is where Paleo hits science. The aim is to eat what makes our gut healthy.
I follow this with Michael Pollans's NYT article that will tell you more.
Here is the lede: (Full Link Here)
"I can tell you the exact date that I began to think of myself in the first-person plural — as a superorganism, that is, rather than a plain old individual human being. It happened on March 7. That’s when I opened my e-mail to find a huge, processor-choking file of charts and raw data from a laboratory located at the BioFrontiers Instituteat the University of Colorado, Boulder. As part of a new citizen-science initiative called the American Gut project, the lab sequenced my microbiome — that is, the genes not of “me,” exactly, but of the several hundred microbial species with whom I share this body.
These bacteria, which number around 100 trillion, are living (and dying) right now on the surface of my skin, on my tongue and deep in the coils of my intestines, where the largest contingent of them will be found, a pound or two of microbes together forming a vast, largely uncharted interior wilderness that scientists are just beginning to map."
I end with a link to a short book that has the whole story up to now. This short book is very easy to read and is short. You will know a lot in an hour.
Here is the blurb
"To paraphrase famed biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky, “nothing in nutrition and health makes sense except in the light of the gut microbiome.” In Honor Thy Symbionts, the lens of our evolutionary past is focused on modern issues of obesity, GMO foods, diabetes, the rise in C-section births, ecology of our gut microbes, our African microbial origins, government dietary recommendations, probiotics vs. prebiotics, food poisoning, and more.
This collection of 21 short essays is not organized as a single book – with a beginning and obvious end. But a collection of musings ranging from 600 to 2,000 words in length. Though a wide range of topics is covered, a microbial thread connects all of the essays. This decidedly Darwinian (evolutionary) perspective is a nod to the reality that ninety-percent of the cells in the human body are not even human, but microbial. This makes humans super organisms – however, more microbe than mammal. This biological truth is reframing the scientific and philosophical conversation around Who are we? The ultimate questions of health and disease in our modern world will hinge on the speed at which we discover and accept that we have always lived in a microbial world and much that ails us is in fact discordance with the once symbiotic relationship we coevolved with these tiniest forms of life.
Jeff Leach is the Founder of the Human Food Project."
This weekend I saw a number of news items that caused me to think more about the role of the corporatization of health. It is clear to me that there is a a group of people who don't want us to be healthy and who are invested in our being ill. If I am right what can we do?
In this post I make a case for the problem and I offer up a way of dealing with it.
First of all, if you wish to test for the Breast Cancer Gene that affects abiut 10% of women but also drives a very high chance of getting Breast Cancer, you will have to have at least $4,000. For this test and the gene are subject to copyright! Link Here
"Unlike routine tests for diabetes or high cholesterol, however, the BRCA gene evaluation — performed by only one company in the United States, Myriad Genetics — is phenomenally expensive, with a “list price” close to $4,000 when a related genomic-rearrangement test is included in the analysis, which oncologists typically recommend."
If you go to 23andme you can get a whole range of gene tests for $99! Testing for genes is no longer expensive. But if you have the copyright and you have a gene and a test that is rooted in a killer problem, then you can charge what you want. What a business!
C Difficile is a major cause of death now. It is caused by a failure of our gut health. Poor diet and the use of antibiotics can kill off the good bacteria leaving us exposed to the bad. THE way of curing this is very simple and works in less than 2 days. It costs almost nothing. It is called a "Fecal Transplant". And yes it is just that. Good poo from a person with a healthy gut is given to the sick person via an enema. Think Blood Transfusion.
There is next to no risk. The patient is often at death's door and time is critical. But now the FDA want to regulate this. Not by setting a standard that any practitioner can get ready to apply but by demanding a lengthy application for a licence to experiment on a human. More at this link here at Wired.
This can be a death sentence if there is no time. I have to ask why? I can only think that the FDA are against treatments that cannot be monetized by their supporters.
The FDA is always quick to step in when there is a non corporate idea.
Alzheimers could become the most expensive disease out there as many boomers get it. Of course the real costs are social. Sufferers demand such a high level of care. Big Pharma have been trying for ages to find THE drug and have failed. We are starting to understand though that Alzheimers is a lifestyle disease. It is avoidable. The pathway is diet again.
High levels of Vitamin B preserve brain power and size. More at this link
"Older people’s brains shrink about 0.5 percent a year from the age of 60, and faster in people with vitamin B12 deficiency, mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease, Smith said. If that pace can be significantly slowed before full-blown Alzheimer’s develops, it may delay the disease’s progression so that older people can enjoy better lives until they die from another cause.
“If you delay the onset by five years, you can halve the number of people dying from it,” says Jess Smith, a research communications officer at the Alzheimer’s Society, a U.K. charity."
So here is the Big Pharma issue. More research has to be done. But in today's research climate, unless there is a blockbuster pill that can be copyrighted, there is no money. Research into real health does not get funded.
“We need bigger studies and more evidence that looks at what homocysteine is doing and what is actually going on in the brain.”
A. David Smith agrees. He plans a study of B vitamins in 1,200 people over 70 with MCI and elevated homocysteine. He needs 6 million pounds ($9.1 million) to pay for it. Miller plans another large study and wants to see if folic acid in flour in the U.S. leads to different results there. Meanwhile, the lack of blockbuster-drug potential presents funding hurdles.
“The pharmaceutical companies aren’t going to make any money on this and the supplement companies aren’t going to have enough money to do it,” Miller said. “This would have to be government-funded. I’m just not sure the climate is right for it now.”
The good news is that the American Gut Health project has shown us that we can crowd fund this kind of research. I have sent my poo in already! I also participate in the D Action Study to study the impact of Vitamin D. I am going to apply to test my genes at 23andme. I want to check out my ancestry which is a major factor in health risk.
I think that my health is up to me. I do my own research. I help others do theirs. I take action. We can all do this can't we?
If gut health IS the core health issue. Then all of us can take control. If you wish to know more about this, Michael Pollan has written a wonderful introduction here. If you want to know even more, Jeff Leach has a short book for $2.99 that is the bible here.
How are we boomers going to live out our long lives? I worry about this myself a lot. My concern is why I have sold our big house on PEI and moved to a small one here in Quebec near my kids. It is why we have set this house up to run on very low energy costs. It is why we bought in town so that we can walk everywhere if we have to.
I have a tiny pension and the government one too. I do have some savings but I wonder about their safety and again how long they will last.
The situation for most Americans - where I have the data - is dire.
One of the biggest exposures that all older people have as they age in becoming chronically ill. What price illness? What price disability?
More than any factor - even energy costs - being chronically ill is the greatest threat that any boomer will have to how we live out these last decades.
This is why I took charge of my health. It is why I urge you to think about taking charge of yours too. For at our age, the forces of Natural Selection - that protect the young so that they can have kids - have abandoned us. We have no protection except what we do for ourselves. Here is more on this vital topic by the expert in aging, Professor Michael Rose.
You can do a lot to reduce your risks of becoming disabled by chronic illness. It is all about living your life as close as possible to our evolutionary fit. Eating what we are evolved to digest. Using our body as it needs to be used - that is being active, sleeping well and getting enough sun. And having a purpose and so a proper social place and connections.
These are all easier to find as we get older and have more time.
My guide for how to do this and why is here You Don't Need Medicine to get Healthy.
The answer is we gave up real food and took up processed food.
If "we" cannot do this "You" can "I" did. It took me a year to go from fat and prediabetic to thin and healthy.
This is what I did and this is what you can do - You Don't Need Medicine to get Healthy.
At my age, this is my kind of porn and it is also where I am weak and can and do cheat sometimes on my paleo diet.
Last weekend I was away for a party. I fell off the wagon completely. Had half a loaf of French Bread at dinner. A Burger King Burger on the road WITH bun. Ate what was put in front of me all weekend - all totally non paleo and had more Burger King on the way back.
A week later I am nearly back to normal having been very strict. My point is this - apart from acknowleding how hard it is to give up bread etc, it is to wonder at how sensitive my system has become since I have not made wheat and sugar part of my diet.
It takes only a few hours to start to feel "off". When we eat like this all the time, does our feedback mechanism stop? I know that in theory when we feel or see something new, after much repitition the novelty fades. Is this what happened to us when bread etc was the staple of life?
I think that the good news here is that once we have made eating the old way a new thing, then when we fail, we get reminded so hard and fast that this is not good that it is easy to get back on the better path.
If you are thinking about taking charge of your health, consider being a strict paleo dieter for the first 3 months. This will first of all show you a new looking and feeling you. Then it will set you up to react when inevitably, you cheat later.
Good luck and if you want to know more - my book You Don't Need Medicine to get Healthy is here.
We all know that smoking is not good for us. It is a lifestyle choice. And it is hard to give up once you are addicted. But more and more have given up. Look at how deaths have fallen in the UK as a result of more and more people giving up smoking and then think about what you eat or how active you are. (Link here)
It is hard to change your diet and life. But once people knew what smoking would do to them, many did make these changes.
Over the past 20 years Britain has seen the biggest decreases in the world in national rates of death before age 70 from lung cancer and breast cancer (which are both down by half) and cancer in general (which is down by almost one third). Still, however, two-thirds of the risk remains, and Oxford scientists are well placed to help the current revolution in the multi-disciplinary effort that is cancer research to yield new causes and new cures.
My book You Don't Need Medicine to get Healthy is a practical guide to what you can do in terms of Diet, your body and your social world to improve your health. It has the information that you need and a guide for how to take each step to live differently.
If we live like this, we can expect to be active and healthy for most of our lives. If not.....
Now we ALL KNOW this about smoking. Soon we will all know this about diet, activity and our social world. Armed with this, you will be in charge of your health. You will be well and FREE.
My new book - You Don't Need Medicine to get Healthy is now available on Amazon for Kindle. - You can get it here.
70% of chronic illness is driven by how we live: by what we eat, by how we use our bodies and by our social world. In writing this book I have gone to all the experts in all of these fields and I have synthesised their knowledge into one practical manual for living.
We are designed to live out a healthy, active and participatory life. Provided we live close to our own design. In the book I show you why this statement is true.
The book is a personal manual for taking practical charge. You can go as far as you wish but there are simple steps that any of us can start with. I, an old fart, have managed to go a long way and I am sure you can too.
I wanted to show you more though than a diet or an activity plan. I have done my best to bring all the factors for our health into view so that you can see how they all help each other. I have also gone deeply into the science here, so that you can see why this book is not just another self help book.
I wanted to help you take control at a time when medicine has not been successful at preventing you from becoming ill and at a time when the safety net is being reduced as we all age.
I wanted to help us all reduce the immense direct and indirect costs of being ill. In Canada, the average man is disabled by chronic illness by 65 and lives another 10 years. Think of what this means to you as his family? In America health care costs are beyond the reach of any family and a bad diagnosis is often a step to bankruptcy.
Our health is truly in our own hands. When we can accept this, then we change the world that we live in today. This is the greatest step for true freedom that any of us can take today. This is how each of us become the core of any resilient community.
I hope you enjoy the book and I hope that it will help you.
Posted at 08:00 AM in 55 Theses, Activity, Books, Community, Diabetes Type 2, diet, Early Years Research, Environment, Evolutionary Fit, Food, Food and Drink, Food Systems, Freelancing, Health, Hope, Making a Living, Michael Rose, Missing Human Manual, Natural Organization, Organizations and Culture, Paleo, Paradigms, Personal Health, Prince Edward Island, Resilient Communities | Permalink | Comments (0)
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A real "Traditional Marriage" would be one that surely has lasted for millions of years and that was the same the entire world over for all humans. There is such a model and it not one man and one woman united to raise a family.
The Real Traditional "Marriage" was the Tribe.
Who we are as men and women was formed by this experience. The story of the real traditional mariage began more than 2 million years ago with the advent of a new proto human. Home Erectus.
HE had the first modern human body plan. She had narrow hips, enabling her to run and her babies had big brains. She lived in a hunting culture where the tribe moved a lot. She and the baby had to be mobile. How evolution solved this complex equation produced us - modern homo sapiens.
So this is why we are what we are and not what the traditionalists think. This is the real tradtion.
The Homo Erectus infant could not be carried to term as our ape cousins do. The pelvis had to be narrow to allow us to run but the dense nutrition of our new diet had expanded the size of the brain. The head would be too big to fit through the now much narrower pelvis. The evolutionary answer to this paradox was to birth the baby prematurely. HE babies and human babies are born at least 6 months premature. HE, and human, babies are totally helpless when compared to apes and other primate babies. Raising a HE baby was a much more complex job that any other ape or monkey mother would have confronted.
This then set up the next evolutionary challenge. How does a mother, who is on the move all the time, care for a helpless infant? How does she ensure that she does not have more children than she can carry or care for?
This problem was solved by long term breast feeding. Constant breast feeding suppresses fertility. Hunter Gatherers cannot afford to have lots of children. Long term breast feeding reduces fertility. Constant breast feeding for two years also ensures that the child has the most robust immune system possible. Tribes that had long intervals between children had an evolutionary advantage. Children with good immune systems, had an evolutionary advantage. Long term breast feeding was the process. Breast milk evolved as a long term diet for infants that adjusted its composition as the child aged. Also, in the pre tool era, breast milk was an easier form of feeding a child than pre chewing the food.
Once again, there is another problem that has to be solved. If all the mature women in the tribe are having children, as apes and other primates do, the demands of raising a big brain child that is slow to mature will overwhelm the tribe. Raising a complex, slow to mature advanced hominid, was too much for a single mother on her own.
This too drove an evolutionary response. In tribes where the middle aged women stopped being fertile, more kids lived until adulthood. Many closely aligned females shared the work. And so Professor Sarah Hrdy thinks menopause, a uniquely human attribute evolved. Human females are the only primate to have menopause.
And so what about the men? How did this challenging role of raising young who were helpless or of little use until maybe 8 affect men? The answer might be in how HE used sex as a social binder.
Human females are the only primates, other than bonobos, to have emotional and recreational sex. Human females do not come into estrus as all other primates do. When they are fertile, there are no visible signs. Human females can choose when they have sex and with whom. Sex was not closely linked to reproduction. With long term breast feeding, their fertility only came on in 2 or 3 year intervals. They are the only primate whose vaginas have adapted to face to face sex. Why is this so? There must be a good evolutionary reason for sex to be fun. Sex must have been used to strengthen bonds between men and women and not only for procreation. Then the question arises, was this to strengthen the pair bond or to strengthen the pair bonds?
What then is the “Traditional Family”?
From evolution’s point of view, would it be smart for a woman to place all her meat expectations and all her protection on one man? What if he was killed? Who would feed her and her children? What if she died? Who would look after her children? (Sex at Dawn by Ryan and Cacilda Jetha ) Would it be smarter to have more than one partner and so that all the children were the children of all the tribe? We can never know. But it is likely that, in a culture where there was no property and where all food was shared, that sharing partners would be the norm. The physiological set up for human sex suggests strongly that sex is a deep part of how we “groom” each other and so strengthen our social bonds.
In this case the whole tribe has to raise all the children.
As well as sharing the men, did women share the babies? Human female physiology suggests that we did. Human females, who live in groups, coordinate their estrus cycles with each other. There is a good evolutionary reason for this. It means that there are always several lactating women at all times. Should a mother die, her child can still be fed. Tribes that could do this had better evolutionary outcomes.
Many factors bond the social group intensely. Food is shared. Bodies are shared. Love is shared. Children are shared. Hunting itself is intensely bonding. As is gathering and communal food preparation.
So what about health and aging? In such a small group, was there room to spend 20 years looking after granny? Here is where Michael Rose’s Plateau comes into view.
In a group of 35 people, that moved all the time, there is no room for grandpa and grandma to retire, get feeble and need to be looked after. In a group of 35, with 16 young, it is also vital to keep the key knowledge intact about where the water is, what plants will heal, where the game goes, what the stories are and all the vast repertoire of hunting and gathering lore that we cannot imagine today. We talk of skills today and have no comprehension of the skills needed to hunt and gather. In tribes where the old were active and contributors, the next generation survived.
Here is the most important evolutionary outcome of all. We, as Professor Michael Rose makes clear, are designed to grow old as fit, healthy and active people. Yes, we will get wrinkles and go grey. But we are designed to age well. Tribes where the old were not well, did not last.
So as the institutions of the modern age wither and die, we may well be forced to consider this model again. For we need more than a stressed out couple or single person to raise a child. We cannot just ship dad off to the home. We cannot afford to all live alone.
I see some form of this real traditional model coming back - what about you?
Here is my new standing desk - I hacked a wooden box to sit onto my old Georgian desk. My dad would have been horrified at the look but it works very well and fits me exactly.
So why have I done this? Sitting all day is one of the worst things we can do for our health.
Here is more about how you can get a standing desk and the benefits:
Choosing a Desk
You can do what I did and hack a desk or just go out and buy one. Here is a link to a review of desks and how to adapt to to them.
I work at home and for myself. It was easy for me to choose to work this new way. It also cost me nothing. If I had more money I would add a treadmill. The ideal is to walk at 1 1/2 miles per hour all day.
If you have a job, you have to convince your employer. There is good evidence that this works well and that organizations that are getting behind this gain benefits very quickly. If they struggle with this idea, get them to set up a small experiment at work and measure what happens. Like this:
"Take Salo, a financial consulting firm based in Minneapolis. The company has 12 treadmill desks, and encourages walking meetings and a mini-breakaway game — a mixture of pingpong, tennis and a bit of squash.
Throughout the day, employees rotate on and off the available treadmill desks. Craig Dexheimer, Salo's director of operations and administration, loves his. He's lost 25 pounds since he started using it. If employees get distracted while walking, he suggests they stop or slow down the treadmill.
A few years ago, Salo took part in a Mayo Clinic study headed by Levine to see what happened when employees used treadmill desks. The study was small — just 18 participants. For six months, they rotated on and off the desks, walking, on average, about three hours a day. Everyone lost weight. And overall, Dexheimer says, health improved. "Total cholesterol decreased, plasma triglycerides dropped on average 37 percent in total for all 18 participants.
"Remarkable," he says. "We didn't even go to a gym. We just went to work!"
And productivity didn't suffer. In fact, Dexheimer says, during the six months of the study, Salo's revenues were the highest ever. The environment, he says, was simply "more dynamic." (Source: NPR)
This story has it all. Make moving at work the new normal. Activity is not an add on. It must be how we live.
The study involved over 63,000 Australian men from New South Wales, ranging in age from 45 to 65. The researchers questioned the men about whether or not they had various chronic diseases. The men also reported how many hours they spent sitting down each day.
The study revealed that the men who sat for four hours or less daily were much less likely to have a chronic condition -- such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure -- than those who sat for more than four hours each day. And the men who sat for at least six hours daily were at significantly greater risk for diabetes, the researchers noted.
The number of chronic diseases reported increased along with sitting time. This was true even after the investigators took the men's physical activity level, age, income, education, weight and height into account.
"We saw a steady stair-step increase in risk of chronic diseases the more participants sat. The group sitting more than eight hours clearly had the highest risk," said Rosenkranz.
"It's not just that people aren't getting enough physical activity, but it's that they're also sitting too much," he said. "And on top of that, the more you sit, the less time you have for physical activity."
The study was published online recently in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.
My upcoming new book You Don't Need Medicine to get Healthy 9 - Out later this month - explores this issue of activity in detail.