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Sugar and Fructose – The best post yet on the causes of the epidemic of chronic illness

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We are close now to a strong agreement that the epidemic of chronic illness is diet related and that sugar and fructose is at the heart of it.

This chart showing sugar consumption is I think the smoking gun for looking at the role of sugar and now fructose in the epidemic of chronic illness.

This article – link here – is complete. It goes into depth on the process by which sugar and then fructose affects us and some people more than others. All who care about their health should read this. All who are in health care should too – for  we have to acknowledge that, until now, we must have been wrong. Our failure to make progress is the proof.

Here are the facts about the load:

Sugar consumption continued to increase in the 1900s, with an overall doubling in the United States and the United Kingdom between 1900 and 1967 (34). By 1993, >110 million tons of sugar were produced worldwide (33). Whereas sugar intake continues to be marked in the industrialized nations, it is in the developing countries that the greatest increase in the rates of sugar consumption has been observed (35 ). By the early 1970s, an additional sweetener, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), was introduced in the United States, which had certain advantages over table sugar with relation to shelf life and cost. This sweetener, the composition of which is similar to that of sucrose, is used extensively to sweeten soft drinks, fruit punches, pastries, and processed foods. The combination of table sugar and HFCS has resulted in an additional 30% increase in overall sweetener intake over the past 40 y, mostly in soft drinks. Currently, consumption of these sweeteners is almost 150 lb (67.6 kg) per person per year (36), which has resulted in the ingestion of >500 kcal/d (37; Figure 1).

Here they make the connection:

 recent history in the United States has shown that, although a low-fat intake has been promoted, rates of obesity have continued to increase as sugar consumption has continued. In addition, recent studies showing that a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet has no adverse cardiovascular effects (4041) suggest that it is time to revisit the causes of the cardiorenal disease epidemic. In 2002, Havel’s group (37) made the case that the fructose content of sugar may be the critical component associated with the risks of obesity and heart disease. Sucrose is a disaccharide consisting of 50% fructose and 50% glucose, and HFCS is also a mixture of free fructose and glucose of approximately the same proportion (55:45).

There are some striking epidemiologic associations between sugar intake and the epidemic of cardiorenal disease. For example, obesity was initially seen primarily in the wealthy, who would have been the only ones able to afford sugar. Also, the first documentation of hypertension, diabetes, and obesity occurred in the very countries (England, France, and Germany) where sugar first became available to the public. The rise in sugar intake in the United Kingdom and the United States (Figure 1) also correlates with the rise in obesity rates observed in these countries. Furthermore, the later introduction of sugar to developing countries also correlates with the later rise in their rates of obesity and heart disease. A series of epidemiologic studies linked the ingestion of soft drinks to obesity, hypertension, and diabetes (4243) and the consumption of fruit juice and fruit punch to obesity in children (4445). Although these epidemiologic associations suggest a potential causal role, are there any direct experimental data to show that sucrose or fructose can induce obesity or hypertension?

Please invest the time to go further. Link here.

 

How you were born will affect your gut flora and so your health

It is becoming more and more clear that our gut flora is the central issue for health. (More here on that)

It is best to start with the the healthiest gut flora possible. This means that it is best that we are born vaginally. We are a blank slate in the womb. Being born vaginally gives us our mother’s flora.

Evidence is now coming out about how important this is. Leaving mothers with a more informed choice. If you can have a vaginal birth, you are giving your child the best start possible.

Here is the summary:

The researchers found that infants born by cesarean delivery were lacking a specific group of bacteria found in infants delivered vaginally, even if they were breastfed. Infants strictly formula-fed, compared with babies that were exclusively or partially breastfed, also had significant differences in their gut bacteria.

“We want parents (and physicians) to realize that their decisions regarding c-section and breastfeeding can impact their infant’s gut microbiome, and this can have potentially lifelong effects on the child’s health,” says postdoctoral student and first author Meghan Azad, University of Alberta.

“The potential long-term consequences of decisions regarding mode of delivery and infant diet are not to be underestimated,” write the authors. “Infants born by cesarean delivery are at increased risk of asthma, obesity and type 1 diabetes, whereas breastfeeding is variably protective against these and other disorders.”

Beginning before birth, CHILD collects a range of information on environmental exposures such as pets, air pollution, household cleaning products, maternal and infant diet and more, and child health outcomes (including biological samples and clinical assessments). The researchers will use this information to study the development of the gut microbiome and its relationship to conditions such as wheeze and allergies in future studies.

“Children born by cesarean delivery or fed with formula may be at increased risk of a variety of conditions later in life; both processes alter the gut microbiota in healthy infants, which could be the mechanism for the increased risk,” writes Dr. Rob Knight, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist and an Associate Professor with the BioFrontiers Institute and Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Computer Science, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, United States, in a related commentary.

“These issues are of direct relevance to pregnant women and health practitioners and should be considered when choices such as elective cesarean delivery and other interventions are discussed,” state the commentary authors.

 

Raw or Cooked Food? #Wrangham

Many advocate eating raw food. Is this a good thing or not?

Dr Richard Wrangham thinks not. His work suggests that humans have been cooking for a very long time. For well over a million years. There is no fossil record of fires but there is a physiological record. Homo Erectus lost that big veggie processing gut and those big veggie grinding teeth and jaws. And HE’s brain increased by 20%. I find this pretty convincing. (A good intro to his ideas is here)

Australopithecus-Erectus

(picture source here)

It would take a massive change in environment to create this change to the body plan.

Here is a short video where Wrangham speaks to his findings

He also looked at a large modern study to see how well people do on a veggie diet. (source)

There are only three studies conducted on the body weight of raw foodists, according to Wrangham’s book. The most comprehensive of them was the Geissen study, which questioned and examined 513 raw foodists. This isn’t quite as legit as confining people to a zoo for 30 years, but what was shown was that the higher the percentage of raw food in the diet, irrespective of whether or not they consumed meat, the lower their BMI. One third of those who ate purely raw had body weights that categorized them as being in a state of chronic energy deficiency. The Geissen study also found that 82% of long term raw foodists included some cooked food in their diets. The study also showed that the more raw food women ate, the less likely they were to have regular periods, many of whom had completely ceased to menstruate. This equates to being infertile and losing bone mass. Some raw foodists (and I did hear this one at a raw food guru talk I attended once upon a time in Boulder) claim that menstruation and ejaculation are just a body’s way of eliminating toxins and once you become truly clean, ejaculating and menstruating is no longer necessary. Facepalm! Seriously, I remember the promises of menstrual cycles practically becoming “unnecessary”, provided you really stuck to it. While this does sound like an upshot, it’s kind of like promoting the loss of your legs by saying you’ll never have to run 400m repeats. Locomotion: just for the overachievers!

The last sort-of nail in the coffin for the theory that raw foods are our evolved diet, is that they would never work in the wild. Wrangham found no reports of long term survival in the wild on a raw diet. Most commonly, rapid starvation is the biggest threat to survival in the wild on raw foods, even with intimate knowledge of edible forage, just ask Robb and the I Cavemen cast. What makes a modern raw foods diet livable is that we now have unlimited access to food processing, making nutrients a little more available. Blenders, dehydrators, grinders, sprouting, and grocery stores that can provide year-round access to produce and nut butter that clearly would be hard to scrounge up in the wild. Also keep in mind that these domesticates are a wee bit more energy dense than they were in the wild. The German team also found that 30% of the raw foodists’ calories came from lipids that would have been inaccessible to any hunter gatherer.

So without these modern conveniences, how well do you think they would do? Anybody really wanna try? And judging by the fact that many of them cease to be reproductively functional, how well do you think we’d do if this was our evolutionary strategy?

 It looks to me that a diet that makes nearly half the sample infertile is unlikely to be a sound one and to have any basis in our own past. And imagine eating only raw food in a northern winter without the modern food system.

Parenting – Fitting the Child into the World vs Fitting the World to the Child

What is the historic way of parenting? The late Jean Liedloff made the study of Traditional Child rearing (The Continuum Concept) her life’s work.

Here is the central difference between what we do – make the child the centre but also disconnect physically – and the traditional – attach physically but fit the child into the larger adult world. Snip here:

How do they do it? What do the Yequana know about human nature that we do not? What can we do to attain non-adversarial relationships with our children in toddlerhood, or later if they have got off to a bad start?

The “Civilized” Experience

In my private practice, people consult me to overcome the deleterious effects of beliefs about themselves formed in childhood.1  Many of these people are parents keen not to subject their offspring to the kind of alienation they suffered at the hands of their own usually well-meaning parents. They would like to know how they can rear their children happily and painlessly.

Most of these parents have taken my advice and, following the Yequana example, kept their babies in physical contact all day and night until they began to crawl.2  Some, however, are surprised and dismayed to find their tots becoming “demanding” or angry — often toward their most caretaking parent. No amount of dedication or self-sacrifice improves the babies’ disposition. Increased efforts to placate them do nothing but augment frustration in both parent and child. Why, then, do the Yequana not have the same experience?

The crucial difference is that the Yequana are not child-centered. They may occasionally nuzzle their babies affectionately, play peek-a-boo, or sing to them, yet the great majority of the caretaker’s time is spent paying attention to something else…not the baby! Children taking care of babies also regard baby care as a non-activity and, although they carry them everywhere, rarely give them direct attention. Thus, Yequana babies find themselves in the midst of activities they will later join as they proceed through the stages of creeping, crawling, walking, and talking. The panoramic view of their future life’s experiences, behavior, pace, and language provides a rich basis for their developing participation.

Being played with, talked to, or admired all day deprives the babe of this in-arms spectator phase that would feel right to him. Unable to say what he needs, he will act out his discontentment. He is trying to get his caretaker’s attention, yet — and here is the cause of the understandable confusion — his purpose is to get the caretaker to change his unsatisfactory experience, to go about her own business with confidence and without seeming to ask his permission. Once the situation is corrected, the attention-getting behavior we mistake for a permanent impulse can subside. The same principle applies in the stages following the in-arms phase.

One devoted mother on the East Coast, when beginning sessions with me on the telephone, was near the end of her tether. She was at war with her beloved three-year-old son, who was often barging into her, sometimes hitting her, and shouting, “Shut up!” among other distressing expressions of anger and disrespect. She had tried reasoning with him, asking him what he wanted her to do, bribing him, and speaking sweetly as long as she could before losing her patience and shouting at him. Afterward, she would be consumed with guilt and try to “make it up to him” with apologies, explanations, hugs, or special treats to prove her love — whereupon her precious little boy would respond by issuing new ill-tempered demands.

Sometimes she would stop trying to please him and go tight-lipped about her own activities, despite his howls and protestations. If she finally managed to hold out long enough for him to give up trying to control her and calm down, he might gaze up at her out of his meltingly beautiful eyes and say, “I love you, Mommy!” and she, almost abject in her gratitude for this momentary reprieve from the leaden guilt in her bosom, would soon be eating out of his dimpled, jam-stained little hand again. He would become bossy, then angry and rude, and the whole heartbreaking scenario would be replayed, whereupon my client’s despair would deepen.

I hear many similar stories from clients in the United States, Canada, Germany, and England, so I believe it is fair to say that this trouble is prevalent among the most well-educated, well-meaning parents in Western societies. They are struggling with children who seem to want to keep their adults under their control and obedient to their every whim. To make matters worse, many people believe that this phenomenon bears witness to the widely held notion that our species, alone among all creatures, is by nature antisocial and requires years of opposition (“discipline,” “socializing”) to become viable, or “good.” As the Yequana, the Balinese, and numerous other peoples outside our cultural orbit reveal, however, such a notion is utterly erroneous. Members of one society respond to the conditioning of their culture like the members of any other.

The Way to Harmony

What, then, is causing this unhappiness? What have we misunderstood about our human nature? And what can we do to approach the harmony the Yequana enjoy with their children?

It appears that many parents of toddlers, in their anxiety to be neither negligent nor disrespectful, have gone overboard in what may seem to be the other direction. Like the thankless martyrs of the in-arms stage, they have become centered upon their children instead of being occupied by adult activities that the children can watch, follow, imitate, and assist in as is their natural tendency. In other words, because a toddler wants to learn what his people do, he expects to be able to center his attention on an adult who is centered on her own business. An adult who stops whatever she is doing and tries to ascertain what her child wants her to do is short-circuiting this expectation. Just as significantly, she appears to the tot not to know how to behave, to be lacking in confidence and, even more alarmingly, looking for guidance from him, a two or three year old who is relying on her to be calm, competent, and sure of herself.

A toddler’s fairly predictable reaction to parental uncertainty is to push his parents even further off-balance, testing for a place where they will stand firm and thus allay his anxiety about who is in charge. He may continue to draw pictures on the wall after his mother has pleaded with him to desist, in an apologetic voice that lets him know she does not believe he will obey. When she then takes away his markers, all the while showing fear of his wrath, he — as surely as he is a social creature — meets her expectations and flies into a screaming rage.

If misreading his anger, she tries even harder to ascertain what he wants, pleads, explains, and appears ever more desperate to placate him, the child will be impelled to make more outrageous, more unacceptable demands. This he must continue to do until at last she does take over leadership and he can feel that order is restored. He may still not have a calm, confident, reliable authority figure to learn from, as his mother is now moving from the point of losing her temper to the point at which guilt and doubts about her competence are again rearing their wobbly heads. Nevertheless, he will have the meager reassurance of seeing that when the chips were down, she did relieve him of command and of his panicky feeling that he should somehow know what she should do.

Put simply, when a child is impelled to try to control the behavior of an adult, it is not because the child wants to succeed, but because the child needs to be certain that the adult knows what he or she is doing. Furthermore, the child cannot resist such testing until the adult stands firm and the child can have that certainty. No child would dream of trying to take over the initiative from an adult unless that child receives a clear message that such action is expected — not wanted, but expected! Moreover, once the child feels he has attained control, he becomes confused and frightened and must go to any extreme to compel the adult to take the leadership back where it belongs.

When this is understood, the parents’ fear of imposing upon their child is allayed, and they see that there is no call for adversariality. By maintaining control, they are fulfilling their beloved child’s needs, rather than acting in opposition to them.

It took my East Coast client a week or two to see the first results of this new understanding. After that, generations of misunderstanding and the force of old habits rendered the family’s transition to non-adversarial ways somewhat uneven. Today, she and her husband, as well as many of my other clients similarly afflicted, are happily convinced by their own experience that children, far from being contrary, are by nature profoundly social.

Expecting them to be so is what allows them to be so. As the parents’ expectation of sociality in the child is perceived by the child, she or he meets that expectation; likewise, the parents’ experience of sociality in the child reinforces their expectation of it. That is how it works. In a gracious letter to me, the husband of my East Coast client wrote, of his wife, their son, and himself: “[We] have grown and learned and loved together in a miraculous way. Our relationships continue to evolve in a totally positive and loving direction.”

The very best video on the choices before us

Dr Wahls is an inspiration – all the context – the practical steps – the pull of her success in curing her MS and the choice

Let’s stop the nit picking re Ancestral/Paleo and Focus on the Big Context

I have to admit being guilty of nit picking and loving a good fight and spent a lot of this weekend involved in such little fights – but my wife and best friend Robin reminded me that this was not the best approach. And then I read this – a comment on the Ancestral Health Conference and I am convinced. If this movement is like a church – the broader the gates the better – best we stay at the context level rather than fight about the details of what is in or out – like how many angels could stand on the head of a pin – a major debate back in the early years of Christianity! Here is the link (Stumptuous.com Krista Scott Dixon)

Why is studying ancestral health and primal diets important? And what do we plan to do with that knowledge?

Well, let’s back up.

Here are a couple of fundamental concepts behind the notion of “ancestral” or “primal” health.

Concept 1: Hominids evolved to eat a particular range of foods, in a particular context.

There is no ONE “ancestral” or “primal” diet. Humans do just fine on many diets that vary by region and seasonal availability. That can mean anything from all-tubers-all-the-time (as in Staffan Lindberg’s research on the Kitavans) or the blubberiffic no-veggies-no-problem diet of indigenous northern peoples.

Humans did not dominate the globe by being picky eaters.

We did, however, get very used to eating stuff that we could hunt, gather, and/or dig up. We got used to working for our dinners. We somehow forgot to invent TV right away, so we ended up getting riptshizzled by climbing trees, running from tigers, hauling logs, playing (more than you’d think) and trying not to die.

Concept 2: We lived for millions of years with this primal diet and lifestyle. High-fructose corn syrup was introduced in the mid-20th century. Hilarity ensued.

The mismatch between 99.99% of our genetic history and our currently 21st reality causes most “diseases of civilization”.

Now, most folks focus on the content of the diet. Which makes sense. You are what you eat.

Thus, many presenters covered things like the conversion of fructose to craptabolism and why that matters; how vitamin D will make you immortal; why inadequate fat will make you insane; or the importance of understanding the specific molecular structure of lectins (giant geek boner for Mat Lalonde!! *making “call me for o-chem study sessions” thumb-and-finger gesture*).

Other presenters added context by focusing on specific health effects.

Frinstance, is your GI tract healthy and are bacteria our overlords? Did you know that some people have juicy white plaque sausages in their arteries? Why are Westerners such diabetic lazy bastards? and so forth.

All of this was entirely awesome. You know that feeling (any of you born earlier than 1980) of eating Pop Rocks fizzy candy? Well that was my brain.

Still, despite the often crudely drawn nerd-porn of molecular structures and chemical conversion pathways, the overall vibe, at times, lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. Actually we do sais quoi, and it came from Frank Forencich. Which is this.

It’s great — crucial, even — to focus on what we ate, and eat. This knowledge alone, if put into practice, could save millions of lives.

But humans did not live by bread organ meats alone. It is also essential to understand:

  • how we ate — with others, in a structure of mutual interdependence
  • how we got what we ate — hunting and gathering communally, reading the signs of the land and the animals, moving in all kinds of ways
  • that we played as well as worked
  • that we were intimately connected to our group, tribe, community, ancestors, stories, land, and other organisms; and our sense of self was derived from a deep relationship with all these things
  • that we lived in and through our bodies as well as in and through our perceptions and foci — our realities were comprised of what we paid attention to (think about that as you’re diddling with your Blackberry)
  • that we lived in a physical and geographic context with changing seasons, temperatures, physical sensations, light levels, vegetation, and animal populations

By the way, although hat tip to Boyd Eaton for the discussion of egalitarianism and gendered divisions of labour, next year I’d like a little less on “Man the Hunter” and a little more on “Woman the Gatherer”. Hello, did women even exist in the Paleo period? We know from studies of modern foraging societies that even top-notch hunters strike out more often than not, and women’s foraging labour typically sustains the group more consistently.

Anyway, you see where I’m going, I hope.

Don’t get hung up too much on the “what”. Ask also about the “how” and the “why”. Don’t miss the ancestral forest for the carb-and-protein trees. Human history offers us a tremendous, rich, diverse, nuanced narrative. Dig in to this conceptual buffet.

Think big. Bigger.

This primal/ancestral stuff is huge. Let us not constrain ourselves to amino acids and carbon groups (as delicious as the debates may be). Let’s not focus on whether coconut flour is “Paleo”. Let’s get contextual all up in that shit. Let’s dive into the exuberance of the big, big, BIG picture.

Let us get over ourselves and find out what our ancestors have to say. Let us shut up and listen to their histories, their stories, their bones, their insights, their genes, their movements, their social and physical geography, the undulating rhythms of their seasons and lives, and their dancing bacterial overlords.

Oh, but the grass-fed beef jerky can stay.

A broad view of much of the best thinking on Ancestral Health

Earlier this month, the Ancestry Foundation hosted the first of what will be many conferences on Health as seen through the perspective of Evolution.

FRIDAY

“Dimensional Mastery: How understanding where we’ve come from gives us valuable insights into where we’re headed” by Matt Wallden

“How to Triple Your HDL” by Jonathan Carey

“Bone Broths: The Missing Link in the Evolution of the Modern Superathlete” by Catherine Shanahan

“The Multifactorial Influence of Chronic Sleep Reduction on Body Weight” by Dan Pardi

“What Does the USDA Really Represent?” by Adele Hite

“Paleo Made Simple: A Template for Avoiding Common Errors When Adopting an Evolution-Based Diet” by Melissa and Dallas Urban

“Does physical activity impact dietary choice in a modern Western population to correspond to hunter-gatherer macronutrient profiles?” by Stephanie Schnorr

SATURDAY

“Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet, Healthier Dog Food the ABC Way” by Steve Brown

“Declining Age at Menarche: An Indicator of Declining Public Health” by Meghan Gillette

“How psychological dysfunction arises from disparities between hunter-gatherer and modern lifestyles: A new theoretical and therapeutic model” by John Montgomery

“The Ancestral Classroom” by Steven Platek

“Neuroregulation of Appetite:  Paleo Nutrition Supports Homeostasis of Macronutrients and Energy Balance” by David Pendergras

“Grass Based Health: The Big Picture” by Peter Ballerstedt

“Ancestry: A Re-imagined Approach to Education” by Brian Geremia & Justin Park

“Game Over: Comparing the Childhood Play Style of Modern Western Societies with Hunter-Gatherer Societies” by Anna Floyd

“Foods from Our Past: Reclaiming the Paleo Diet Experience in Latino Communities.” by Armida Ayala, PhD, MHA

Your Lifespan – Part 2 – How you and I get ill

You get ill when you look like this – this is how I looked aged 59 – I weighed 205 lbs. How I look here has all the signs that you have not lived your life according to the rules.

This is how I looked aged 18 just as I was going out to celebrate my sister’s 16th birthday. I weighed 140 lbs. I was just about to go to South Africa to work as a diamond prospector.  I would walk 11 miles a day in the Kalahari desert and think nothing of it. I was at my peak of fitness.

This story is not all going to be about weight though. It is going to be about knowledge and hope.

This new fat and unfit me was also a new thing. For right up until my late 40’s I was relatively thin and still able to do a lot of things.

Then one day in my 50″s, it seemed as if a switch has been turned on. Each year, I put on a few pounds and became progressively weaker. Then about 58, this process started to accelerate. My knees also were hurting a lot and I was investigating knee replacement! But I thought that all of this was normal.

I thought aged 59, that putting on weight and feeling poorly was my destiny. After all we all get fat and ill as we age – don’t we?

I did try the conventional way – a bit. My wife Robin begged me to lose the tummy. The conventional wisdom meant that I had to take a lot more exercise and I had to eat less. I tried. I signed up and took more exercise but I injured myself and felt awkward and gave up. And I loved my food…. So like so many of us, I was resigned. The “Cure” that all talk about was too hard for me.

Anyway, I told myself that this was my destiny. I would be like all the other people and get ill as I got older. If I had not learned what I know now and if I had done nothing

What had happened to me is surely what has happened to millions – maybe to you too.

When did the “switch” turn on for you and you started to get fat and weak? Do you think that, like me, that this is the new “normal” for you? Do you think that that this is all that is going on?

For what I have learned that this is not all about the weight and the visible?

What is really going on is that inside of you and I is a progression of deterioration that will lead to the chronic diseases that plague us today.

So how and why do we get them? And why do they seem to turn up suddenly as if a switch is thrown? Why is medicine so bad at preventing us from getting them? Why does medicine do such a bad job of “curing” us – for once we get heart disease, we have it. Once we get depression, we have it. Once we get cancer, it can come back. Once we get Type 2 Diabetes, we always have it – NO MATTER what meds we take. The meds do not cure us. They enable us to stay alive in poor health.

Let’s find the answer simply by going back and looking at infection. When we see the model here, we can see the answers to the questions above about chronic disease.

Cholera is always around. But for humans to get it, Cholera has to have an ideal environment to propagate and to spread. Cholera is not spread through the air but through direct contact with human feces. So, if you put a lot of people together and you have no proper sewage disposal system and you allow the sewage to contaminate the water supply, you have the ideal conditions for an epidemic.

Now you can develop a “cure” – (now we know how to treat Cholera – heavy hydration with pure water). But the real cure is to take away the environment that gives cholera the edge. For instance, Cholera is always a threat today when a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane damage sewage or water systems as happened in Haiti. You cannot contain the epidemic by vaccination or treatment. You have to work upstream and fix the sewage system and supply clean water asap.

This chart tells the story. See how most of the scourges of infection were beaten back BEFORE the advent of drugs.

Even TB!

All were “cured” by work on the upstream issue of environment. All these diseases were the product of changes to our social and physical environment caused by Industrialization. It was when millions of us left the small communities that fitted our own nature better. We arrived in the cities knowing nothing of the consequences of overcrowding. We found ourselves in the same predicament as say these animals now!

All these animals will die if they live like this. To prevent this they are given antibiotics as a routine. This is not sustainable and is dangerous as we are breeding super bugs as a result.

The only way that is sustainable is the change the environment. That is what we did for ourselves.

It was John Snow, a Dr, who discovered that Cholera was water born. He was never accepted by the establishment and died before his discovery was accepted. It was Joseph Bazalgette who built the sewers that made it possible for 8 million people to live in London.

We think that medicine “cured” infection. Medical knowledge about the environment for infection was the cure not any vaccine or drug.  But of course Big Pharma and the Medical Profession take the credit and today tell us that the ONLY way to be healthy is to use drugs.

All of this story about how we really conquered infection is true for the Chronic Diseases of our time. They all stem from environmental causes. Which in turn arise because we have not known the consequences of changes we have made to our diet, our work culture and how we live and work.

For just as we can never adapt to living in concentrations of millions without a good sewage system and a secure water supply, we also can never adapt to:

  • Eating a diet that is mainly composed of grains and sugars and other foods such as dairy and legumes
  • Living and working in a culture where we have little or no control or say
  • Losing touch with what our bodies really need in terms of activity, sleep and exposure to the natural world

My getting fat and pre diabetic was all related to not knowing any of this too. I too had no context. I bought the Kool Aid about the fact that I should eat MORE grains and dairy. I had no idea that how much control I had in my life was a key factor in my health. My only thought about my body was that I should “Take more exercise” which is only a fragment of the larger truth and a part of my life where I would have to find the time and pay someone else and do – for me – silly things not connected to what I did every hour of the day.

I also did not know this.

Every animal has evolved to be healthy throughout its life. Evolution would not support a population that had to “carry” a large segment who could not cope.

We humans are no exception. In fact, in all societies where people live according to our design, we remain fit until we die. People who do not eat the modern diet, who have a culture that is more personal and who are active and spend a lot of time outdoors live long and healthy lives. Like this man.

He is from Kitava and he is my age. I hope I can be like him! Don’t you?

Our challenge is time. If you get cholera, you can be well this morning and dead by supper. The impact of Infection is obvious and quick.

But the diseases that we get today are slow building and hidden.

This is the “Switch” I was talking about. You seem fine – and then you have a heart attack. You are thin and in 10 years you are obese. You are fit and then crippled with arthritis. You go off to your routine breast exam and find you have stage 3 cancer.

This moment is different for us also depending on our ancestry. If your ancestry is longer adapted to the modern diet, the switch may not go on until your 50’s. If you are a First Nations person, it may go on right away from birth.

I think this delay and difference has hidden the danger from us all. Not helped by a vast industry – Food and Medicine – that makes a fortune from this and who have captured the media and so public opinion with their message – “Eat more grains and take a pill”.

So in my next post we will explore why we cannot adapt to this any more than we can adapt to drinking water contaminated by feces.

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Return Part 1 – Getting back our right relationship with Nature – A series

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Is the Paleo diet just another fad diet? Is Crossfit just another fad fitness craze?

They are not – and you should not dismiss them.

They are in fact the early signs of a new revolution in human society, economy and culture. A revolution where we return to working with nature and where we accept that we too are part of nature.

Where we accept that trying to dominate nature and so each other is an idea that is taking us and much of life on the planet to doom.

For we can only abuse the rules of Nature so far and we can only abuse our own nature so far and Nature will push back. And when she does, we lose. The Natural world and our own Nature is not infinitely plastic.

Nature can take a lot of damage but a Tipping Point will arrive when we go too far. We can only take so many fish out of the sea, clog up the atmosphere with only so much CO2, lose only so much topsoil, use more water than we have.

The same is true for us as part of Nature. We can eat junk food, live in crazy circumstances and in crazy social and political systems – for a time. But when we do, nature will push back at us too.

For the planet is a closed natural system with key rules. And so are we. The closer the planet is to its interacting norms, the more it can support life. And the same is true for us.

Millions of years of evolution have set up an ideal set of environments, food, social, physical in which we are designed to be at peak health and happiness. The closer we live our lives to this set of ideal environments, the healthier and happier we will be, (Thesis #2). Conversely, the further away we live our lives from these ideals, the worse our health and our happiness.

We live today at a time when most of us live as far away from Nature and our Nature that is possible. She is pushing back harder and harder. As more of us get sick and as change to climate makes life hell for millions. we see her as the enemy but in fact, she has always rewarded those that work with her.

Our only chance as a species is to “Go Home”. To go home to working with her.

The beauty of this impending revolution is that we know how to be in this new relationship with nature and each other – for we are hardwired to do this. We have just been distracted by 10,000 years of a phase of development. Maybe we have been like teens – all about me? Maybe this is our time to be young parents and be a true member of the community of life again?

Ideally we are designed for this new/old relationship with nature and our nature – the life of a Hunter Gatherer.

Does this mean we have to go home to the caves and wear skins? No – no more than at the time of the Renaissance, we went back to wearing Togas. No it’s all about ideas and principles and mindset.

Men and women in the 15th century applied ideas that had been forgotten and even prohibited to how they lived their lives and so created the modern world. A world based on observation rather than dogma.

What I think could happen now is the same. We can and should use the PRINCIPLES of the Hunter Gatherer World to design the Post Industrial and Post Agricultural Society that will have to evolve to help us get though Peak Oil and Climate Change.

This series will explore how this is taking place – without any “Plan” or leader. The new world is naturally emerging as it should be! But what I think we can do is accelerate the process of transformation by seeing it more clearly.

For to “Get There” all we have to do is to accept that we are there – all Dorothy had to do to go home was to say “I want to go home”.

For “Home” is deep inside us. It waits only for us to say yes. All we need to know to do well in this New/Old World is hard wired inside us. All it has to be is remembered.

You and I can immigrate to this New World today.


Then the “New World” was a place.

Today the New New World is a State of Mind. We don’t have to get on a boat. We just have to see ourselves in a new light. The moment we do, we have arrived at the pier. Life will still be hard, it always is for immigrants. But few who got off at the pier ever wanted to go back to the old country.

So in this series I hope to paint you a picture of what this new country will be like. You might see that you are almost there. I doubt that many of you will be surprised. The ideas are not new they are older than us. But we have forgotten them.

So I offer you not a new book but a mirror. And at the heart of it all is the heart and love and the acceptance of our true place. We will, as Paul hoped for, have grown up.

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

Here then is the structure of the series:

1. In the next post “The Emergent New Hunter Gatherer Society”: we will see how the new Unemployed, the Under Employed and the Freelancers are not failures or misfits but are New Immigrants who are in engaged in a massive new project – to redesign our economy and food system using these principles. We are creating this new world for ourselves and for our children because we don’t fit the existing system and worse it works against our real needs.

2. “The Principles of HG Life as they are practised today”: We will extract the principles from the emergent patterns and see how they can be used as our guide for making our own choices and how they put meaning on our lives. What can each of us do to disconnect us from the old system and connect us to the new?

3. “The Principles of Real Revolution”: The full power of the old system is lined up and is already pushing back at the new. “THEY” know we have their number and they know we are death to them and they will fight tooth and nail to defeat us. So it is important for us to know how to deal with this and people like Gandhi and Havel show us the way.

4. “The Heart of the Matter – Food”: There are several factors that shape human culture. Our primary energy source, climate, our primary communication tools. So Peak Oil, Climate Change and the Web will rock the old system and make the birth of the new essential. For the old system cannot cope with these changes. But the real deal is the food system. How we get our food is THE most powerful factor is shaping human society, culture and so power. What will it be about the new food model that is the Game CHanger? Why will it set you free? Why will it change everything – where and how you live and who has power and who does not.

You and I can go home – all we have to do is to change our mind about who we are and where we are.

Here is a piece that make me cry every time I read it out loud – it says it all for me.

There will come a time when humanity will choose to go against nature, to exploit her bounteous gifts, causing a sickness across the planet. People will forget the ecstasies of communion, and life will become drab and colorless.

In these coming dark ages, though, a deep sense of loss will cause the beginnings of a Great Return. They will look at the landscape and the old temples, built to withstand the cataclysms of millennia and understand once again the sacred laws of Existence.

When this day comes, humanity will have come of age. It will consciously acknowledge its role in the creative impulse that comes from the Sun, fertilizes the Earth, and calls forth the flame in the hearts of men and women to worship Life and the miraculous forces behind Creation.

Miller, Hamish & Broadhurst, Paul. The Sun and the Serpent: An Investigation into Earth Energie

Why are we so fat in rural areas – Part 4 – We don’t fit the ruling culture

In this last post of this series, I will explore the downside and the upside of our special tribal Gael and First Nations culture in rural Canada and America.

We have seen that there are many physical reasons why those who live in big cities tend to be thinner/healthier than the rest of us who live in rural settings.

We have seen that a major factor is also status. In a city like Paris, London or New York you are part of the elite of the Industrial world. In rural areas like PEI or Louisiana we get the crumbs of this system. They tell us what we can have and it’s not much.

We have seen that a factor for why we are fat is that we are influenced by our friends and family.

We have seen that our ancestry plays a role too. Most of us are Gaels or First Nations. We are the last of the Western Hunter Gatherers and so we are the least adapted to the modern diet.

Today we are going to look at our culture. This too is a factor in why we mainly live in places outside the best oportunities in the industrial system. It is why if we have to leave to go to the big city for work, we long to come home. To come home to a place where there are few jobs. It is why we like the seasonal nature of our system.

We don’t want to make working for the man the centre of our life.

Our Hunter Gatherer culture is a powerful force that lingers on in us. Culture hard wires into behaviour. You can see this easily in dogs. A Border Collie that has never seen a sheep will still have all its cultural wiring in place to herd. Even a Pekenese will defend her owner as she was once a guard dog.

So do we. For, underneath the veneer of modernity, we Gaels and Native North Americans are still Tribal Warriors.

This is a reason why we are not well adapted to industrial life. This is why if given a chance we want to live on PEI, in Appalachia or in a tribal setting.

Not having been farmers for millenia we don’t do “clock” very well. We don’t like to be told what to do. We love working out doors and don’t like the inside that much. We don’t take well to roles that are not earned. We like to know who people really are by reputation. “Who is your father?” is not a stupid question. Nicknames based on character are common. Your name is very important. Your family is important. Your place is important.

This has meant that we make poor peons and serfs.

So our health is further compromised by poor opportunity and poor fit with the prevailing system. We remain the outcasts and the edge dwellers. We are the butt of jokes and predjudice. We have among the lowest status in our nations.

But I think that we are just the right people to get our power back when a new form of Tribal/Networked/Local/Dispersed econonmy takes over from the impersonal money based power based Industrial system.

We have the best chance to get our health back by going back to our traditional diet. And we are best suited to a new economy that is based on the personal, the trusted and the tribe.

Those who laugh at us now will find life outside their comfort zone very challenging.

That is quite a statement. So I will post a series on this next week. I will explore the new emerging reality of the new Tribal Economy where people live again, but in modern circumstances, the lives of Hunter Gatherers.

But in closing this post on Canada day weekend and with July 4th on Monday – I would like to show you how much we have in common with each other. I would like to show you what special people we are.

We love to dance.

Dance

Powwowdance

Stepd

We love music

Irish roversbetter
Drumming

Band

Our women are tough and noble

Elder

Irish president

Lady allan

My Great Great Aunt Marguerite (Mackenzie) Allan – who lost these,both her daughters, on the Lusitania, her son on his first mission and who stayed on and founded a hospital to look after wounded Canadians.

Our men are tough and noble

Indian braveregalia

Dramatoss

Highland games

We are a warrior society

Famous_Warriors_Poster

Irish brigade

Scotsoldier burial

We love our place.

Indian

Ayr

Ireland

Pei
It stirs me to see these pictures – for they remind me of who we are.

I think that our future is in remembering our past.

It is in bringing our cultures back to the fore. It is seeing the principles that embody them and in applying them to how we live our lives again.

The hunter gatherer and heroic society has been crushed by the Industrial culture – crushed but not broken.

The next economy will be Tribal – parts of it are here already. It will be possible – no essential – to master the culture of the hunter gatherer again. I don’t mean live the exact life but the DNA of that life.

A life lived where, once again, the kind of man and woman you are is your “brand”. Where your wealth is your tribe and how your peers regard you. Where none of your economic eggs are all in one basket. A life where you have real skills. Skills that can’t be learned in 3 years from a series of books but have to be absorbed by working alongside others. A life where there is no separation between work and family. An economy, where your kids grow up with you and your wider family and learn from your life and the stories of their family.

A life where the meal and sharing food is the centre of the system. Where we know where our food comes from. A life where home is a place we would die for.

Next week I will put flesh on these bones. But for now, as we take pride in our wider nations of Canada and America, let us also take pride in our tribes.

We are we so fat in rural settings – part 3 – Because of our ancestry!

Prince Edward Island, where I live, has a very high obesity rate. So do many rural parts of America and of cource the rest of Atlantic Canada.

We have looked at why there is an physical environmental difference between cities and the rural and we have looked at the social environment where our friends influence how we look.

But why is the rate of obesity and related illness SO MUCH worse in certain types of rural settings? Now we are going to look at who we are as people.

The issue here is in our ancestral heritage. Those of us who live in rural Canada and the rural US tend to come from a heritage that is only recently exposed to agriculture.

PEI and Atlantic Canada are settled mainly by Scots Irish. So is the large Appalachian region of the US. It is mainly here in Canada and there in thje US that obesity and related poor health is the worst. Why?

350px-Appalachian_region_of_United_States
The answer is that we are Gaels.

Gaels, are the Hunter Gatherers of Europe who got pushed to the edge of the continent by the new farmers.

Scan -  Map of Europe, Racial, 1935 Literary Digest Atlas of the World

Look at the thin sliver on the far left of Scotland and Ireland. That is the edge. We were pushed here like so many other Hunter Gatherers have been pushed to the edge where the land is marginal and not suitable for farming.

That is the edge – where the land is the poorest – where life is really tough and so are the people. It is where we come from and here is why this is important when we ask abut why so many of us are so fat today.

For the answer is this. We are the people in Europe with the least exposure to agricultural food. We are the least adapted. We are the most at risk of all Europeans to an adverse reaction to the agricultural diet.

For this diet is new when we look at evolutionary time lines. We have ALL come from a Hunter Gatherer past that extends back for millions of years.

We mainly ate meat, fish and plants. We never ate grains, dairy or beans. Imagine milking a wild auroch!

The maximum time that any human group has had to adapt to agriculture – what I call the “Modern Diet” would likely be 6,000 years ago. Here is new evidence on when agriculture began in England. In Evolutionary terms this is yesterday. Some Europeans have made a partial adaptation – but even this is lost by middle age.

The key point to bear in mind is that we are designed to be healthy and fit – PROVIDED – we live the plan that evolution has worked out with us.

Micmac5

As with all hunter gatherers, we did very well on our ancestral diet.

This engraving is of a Mi’Maq made in the 1800th century. This is what most adults would have looked like before they adopted our diet and way of life.

Kitavan

Here is a 60 year old Kitavan Chief who has never been exposed to our diet – see the similarity in body?Kitavans have no diseases of modern civilization.

Chart_watch-976440083-1251332296

Here is the late great singer Israel Kamakawi’ole just before his death. He is an example of the kind of reaction a recent hunter gatherer can have to the modern diet. He shares the same kind of Pacific hunter gatherer heritage to the Kitavan.

The closer you are to a hunter gatherer past – the more vulnerable you are to reacting badly to the modern diet. This recent exposure to the modern diet is a powerful force in why so many in the First Nations community have such a risk of Type 2 Diabetes and related illness and why the Gaels run them a close second.

So what to do?

So if you are of First Nations or Inuit heritage with maybe 150 years maximum exposure – the western diet of mainly grains, dairy and so sugar is toxic. It is also why alcohol is such a problem as is sugar – for they affect the brain in the same way. They are the same.

If you are a Gael – you are next on the list of at risk. Note the importance of sugar and alcohol in our way of life too. We are very attracted to it.

When I say Modern Diet – I mean bread/grains, dairy and legumes. The Industrial Diet is a separate category and is even more a disaster for us.

If we were to go back to eating a diet that was comprised of the traditional foods – mainly real meat and real fish and seasonal plants and fruit, we would be the ancestral groups most likely to “heal”. Even better, we stand a chance of doing what the Kitavan Chief has done. Plateau our aging in mid life.

Here is Dr Michael Rose on this great opportunity for us. Thesis 52

The irony is that while we are the most at risk – we have the best chance of reacting well to a shift back to the traditional diet.

Robfat2
Me 2 years ago – pre diabetic and a typical middle aged Gael on the modern diet.

It has taken me 6 months only to undergo a radical change for the better. For when I say “We” I am  Gael too from Ayr. I started to feel better after 3 months. I think in 5 years I will have got myself back to a metabolism of my heritage.

This then is a huge health opportunity. The First Nations and the Gaels are really suffering. Medicine has not arrested our decline. But by going home to who we are can heal us.

But there is a huge BUT. A BUT that I will deal with in my next post.

The BUT is this. We Gaels and First Nations’ Peoples have lost confidence in our culture and our tribes. We don’t fit into the Industrial World. WE think and others think that this makes us failures. We don’t want 9 – 5. We don’t want to make work the centre of who we are. We hate regimen. We hate offices – we want to be outside.

We were were never farmers and so never were serfs or slaves. We lived according to the time of nature not the clock. But of course farmers were ideally suited to becoming indistrial serfs – no change at all in how they lived.

We will explore this tommorrow. We will ask – “who is the greater fool?” – We will look at how the web and a new economy might enable us to bring back a hunter gatherer way of life in a modern context.

We will look at our tribal values and traditions – respect for our elders and for women – our love of music and the dance – our love of art – our love for our children – our deep respect for nature and sense of connection to it – our eternal view of time and see these as the values that all men and women need if our species is to survive what our industrial culture has done to us and the planet.

By Going Home we might give our kids a chance.

Why are rural folks fatter than urban folks? – a pragmatic series

Here is the lead in the Guardian – PEI’s paper of record.

Obesity rates in Prince Edward Island are among the highest in the country. Overall, about 62 per cent of Canadians weigh more than they should. The obesity rates vary from a low of five per cent in Richmond, B.C. to 32 per cent in Kings County, P.E.I. and nearly 36 per cent in the Mamawetan/Keewatin/Athabaska region in Saskatchewan. The rates were below the national average in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Clearly there seems to be a greater percentage of Canadians in rural areas plagued with excessive weight. What are the reasons for this? Is it because of less access to fitness and recreation programs?

We all know that we should be less fat as a group but other than exhort each other to eat better and take more exercise, we are lost. And anyway who knows that Eat Better and Take more Exercise means anyway. It’s not advice that works.

So I am going to play around here this week with a few ideas and insights that may help us do better.

Rural/Urban – Today I will explore with you “What are the Urban/Rural Factors Really?” – We will find that the difference has nothing to do with exercise programs or recreation. Later I will talk about:

Social Norms - How having fat friends makes us fat

Ancestral Heritage – How where your family come from has a huge affect. Why if you are First Nations or Scots and Irish (Much of PEI) you are more at risk.

Social Status and Control – If you work and live in a major city, like Toronto, New York, Paris and London you get status from that and if you live in a rural setting you lose status.

So today why people who live in Cities tend to be thinner than those of us who live in rural settings?

Diet – What you need to know based on your heritage


Thesis 50 reminds us that if you are a person with a heritage that is adapted to the agricultural diet – say from Western Europe – then you can do quite well on the Agricultural diet for a while. 30 appears to be the time when you start to lose this adaptation.

But if you are a Celt or a First Nations Person – better you avoid it all times. For those that are new to to work – Celts are the Hunter Gatherers of Europe who got pushed to the harsh boundaries such as the Highlands and Wales by the early farmers. We, I am a Scot, are the least well adapted Europeans. This may also be why so many Islanders (I live on Prince Edward Island) have such poor health as most come form the Highlands or Ireland.

The good news though is that if you are a Celt or a First Nations person – if you go back to a more traditional diet and way of life + use all the modern medicine etc – you might arrest your aging earlier than any other group. You could be the vanguard of what the health revolution is all about!

All of us should avoid Industrial food though.

Beer today – Gone tomorrow – Are you at risk?

My son who is 31 likes what he sees in how I have changed but is having trouble with giving up modern foods for himself. Especially beer!

I told him that, as a Scot – he is a Celt and so is more at risk over time. More on why this is so for Celts later (basically Celts are the First Nations of Western Europe – Non Farmers pushed to the edge in the Agricultural Revolution).

James raises the issue of who is at most risk and why. Who is at most risk of aging poorly – developing the debilitating diseases of modern civilization – and what is it about their heritage that is so important.

So today a general rule and in the next few days I will focus on a number of key heritages and we can see where you fit. The general rule then is that even for those of us with a heritage that is most adapted to agriculture – if we persist in eating it in our 40’s and later, we will suffer. (Thesis 51)

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  • Anita: Amen to this article. Too many people receive disability as...
  • matt: isn't the "sugar" in soda high fructose corn syrup? why do y...
  • Caroline Cooper: Hi Rob, Nice to see you're writing again. I have been thi...
  • Patrick Meadows: People, can and have lived solely on meat. Eskimos go months...
  • ike: Maybe you veggies need to eat meat so your brains can develo...
  • robpatrob: Of course - but we are talking much more recently here about...
  • Rob: "I come from Northern European stock. My genes are the most ...
  • Gemma: Don't forget regular exercise! Prevention is better than cur...
  • Daniel: Nothing can live on just meat. Carnivores such as cats and s...
  • robert: Your retarded, so why is it most vegans need pills as vitami...
  • Dario McNut: It is true that erectile dysfunction can be associated with ...
  • robpatrob: Google Richard Wrangham - His book is on Amazon - much more ...
  • A Question: Thanks for this video! Half of the urban women who had a raw...
  • robpatrob: Great questions - thanks. Just as 300 years ago a few misfi...
  • Garfield: I really like the parallels too...I live like this also. Twe...

What is the Missing Human Manual All About?

Do you want to age well? Most of us do. If you are my age, 60, this is more important a question that if you are 30. But most of us would not wish to have heart disease, cancer, dementia when we get old.

Most of us think it is normal that we will get ill like this.

But science today tells us that this is not "Normal". Our evolutionary past designed us to be active and fit until we drop dead. Why? Because raising human children takes so long. Mature adults had to do most of the hard work enable us to invest up to 25 years in our kids.

We are designed by our evolution to reach a plateau of fitness in mid life. So why do most of us not live like this?

We don't because, we have strayed away from the best way of living that fits our evolution best. Our culture has got too far ahead of our biology. We eat foods that make us ill. We have lost our social identity and power and that makes us ill. And we have lost touch with the circadian rhythms of the Natural World, and that has made us ill too.

We have lost our fit with our true nature.

This site will be a Manual. It will show you what the best fit is. It will show you the science behind this. It will share with you some methods for getting your fit back with your true human nature.

So welcome to the "Missing Human Manual" . I hope that we can help you and I hope that you can help others as a result.

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