The importance of your social world to your health #1 The Context

grooming-chimps

Michael Rose is clear – the closer we are to our evolved environment, the healthier we will be. We have explored our diet and our activity. Now it is time to investigate our social environment.

We are primates and intensely social. Our place in our social world has a major impact on our health. People who have little control and status have 4 x more chance of dying early of Heart Disease than those with high control and high status. Why is this? And what can we do to improve our chances? Source: The Whitehall Study

This post is the first of a series that will explore this part of working to find the best fit possible to our evolved social design.

We will look at first at the work of Sir Michael Marmot who is the world’s leading expert in the field of social status and health. We will see that there are steep gradients of health based on status both between nations and inside nations and even inside organizations. These gradients are all a function of our reaction to how we see ourselves – do we have power and control and status or not.

We will then look at the work of Dr Robert Sapolsky who is the world’s leading expert on stress in primates. Here we can see the mechanism that converts poor feelings of self worth and roles and status directly into damage to our immune system. Just as Insulin is the key to diet, Cortisol is the key here. In prey animals such as a Zebra, they only stress and produce Cortisol, when the Lion is hunting. But social animals like baboons worry all the time about their place in the troop. For humans this worry can be worse. For we can use our conscious mind to worry abut things that happened in the past and that might happen in the future. We can have large amounts of cortisol in our system all the time.

We will then look at the work of Dr Doug Willms who has been looking at the impact of family culture on infants. For many kids today are raised in a social environment that is not warm and supportive. By 2, their world view of who they are and what the world is like is set. They are in effect wired. Resilient kids can cope with anything. Kids who are not cannot. Cortisol is again the marker. In summary very authoritarian and instrumental parents tend to shut their kids down. Very permissive parents tend to make their kids feel unsafe.  Kids do best when they are heard and when the boundaries are clear.

This then leads to how this is expressed in the workplace. Here Dr’s  David Brown and Andrew Clark have done breakthrough work on the Managerial Hierarchy. What Willms found in the family culture applies to the workplace too.

With this explained more completely as context, I will explore with you how best to take this matter into your own hands. We cannot change how the world works today on our own, but as with diet, we can chose to act differently in it and we may be forced to do that anyway. Here are some hints about where we might go with this:

  • Millions of us now are Freelancers – some by choice many not. Is this a bad thing? Or is it really the future and is this a return to being who are are designed to be a Hunter Gatherer? What is it about this life and its social aspect that is close to our evolved past – Tribal patterns etc
  • Millions of us are Boomers with maybe 20 – 40 years of life ahead and no financial security. Can we continue to live as separate beings or will we have to find a new social world to help us through? If we cannot live with our blood family what tribes can we form?
  • Can we repair the damage done to us in our earlier lives? Can find find more resilience by changing some key habits and responses? We will look at Neuro Plasticity and how this insight can help us rewire our minds and get power over our traditional responses.
  • We will look at the powerful and positive forces found in social networks – where we can find our place, a role, love and reputation. Where we can give as well as receive.
  • We can look at the food system itself. For I think that it is our relationship to food that is what controls our culture. Can we make a shift from a view of us dominating nature to one where we work with nature?

Cancer is not a disease – it is a mammal’s reaction to “life”

Paul Davies makes the point that Cancer is a function of being a mammal – by looking at it as a disease we miss the context. He and Michael Rose are on the the same page here. Evolution is the place to start. Our environment is the place to work – so we can have control. We can prevent it!

Paleo Pets – Same as us

It is not only us humans who have been put on a corn and processed food diet but of course our pets. Our lab cross bitch is very fat and has a large lipoma – non cancerous fatty tumours. We tried all the “normal” routes – including very expensive vet sold diet kibble. Silly me! As my own body changed as I ate  diet that was suited to my evolution, we continued to feed her kibble. It was easy, she liked it and it was cheap. We fed her less and she became ever more hungry – just like a human on a diet. She could not get the weight off and the lipoma grew and grew. She is getting to the pointwhere we may have to think of surgery – but she is old now and will have to endure a general anesthetic.

Then the lightbulb went off. Again silly me!

Source Mercola

She is fat and she has lipoma BECAUSE she is eating kibble. We now feed her real food that we cook for her. It takes a little more time but not much. The pounds are falling away – she has so much more energy and we will see how the lipoma does. We have been doing this only for a week.

Some breeds of dog – labs are one and females are more prone to weight gain and lipoma. This may be true of humans too.

Cats of course should never eat grains – they are “Obligate Carnivores” who are also desert animals who are designed to get most of their water from their food. So feeding your cat kibble may be very bad for it. Here is an excellent resource for cats and their food.

If we can see this issue in pets – then can we see it for ourselves?

The connection between Agriculture and Disease

The new diet and our new way of life created the diseases of civilization as this extract shows. Living close together and with domesticated animals + the new diet was the set up – as it is today. For flu and viruses and pandemics still have their origin in this mix. And our new industrial diet is at the heart of the global chronic illness that is replacing infection.

The Correct Perspective for Health – David Brooks on Clouds & Clocks

May 25, 2011 Aging, Context, Videos No Comments
clock

I think that one of the barriers for us to see the power that resides in Michael Roses Evolutionary Context for health is that our prevailing culture predisposes us to see problems like a clock – made up of the sum of many different parts. Look at how medicine itself is organized into specialties that all seek distinct and non related pathways and simple cause and effect. But the reality is that our bodies and how we fit into the world are complex. They are like clouds. I find this very short video by David Brooks on this issue very helpful.

If you are seeing what he means then it may be good to now have a look at how Michael Rose sets the context in this context!

 

 

 

Coke vs Juice – which is the healthier choice? Neither!

Many schools have replaced pop with juice in their vending machines. Many parents encourage their kids to drink juice. After all juice is the healthier choice. But sadly it is not.

Fruit juice has as much sugar as most soft drinks. Worse the “sugar” in juice is Fructose and we can only absorb about 25 grams of Fructose. The rest goes to the liver to be converted into fat and also creates many other problems.

It appears we can absorb, at any one time, up to 25 grams of fructose. Now what is 25 grams? A glass of orange juice has up to 14 grams of fructose, a can of Coke sometimes has 15 to 16 grams of fructose, so you have a rough idea of how much 25 grams is. If you exceed that amount at any one time, individuals with limited fructose absorptive capacity can not absorb this substance and can get symptoms.

What are the symptoms of fructose intolerance?

The usual symptoms are bloating, gas, cramps, diarrhea, constipation–indigestion and sometimes excessive belching. These are common symptoms that a number of patients with this condition describe. (Source)

It is best that we avoid juice altogther. Here also is a useful table that shows us how much fructose is in fruit itself. Again keep the 25 grams threshold in mind:

Source Richard Johnson

Many might say “We have always eaten fruit!”. True but remember the conditions under which we ate it. Wild fruit is not sweet compared to modern fruit. Ever had a wild apple? Almost inedible. Apples were all converted to cider for thousands of years. We would have also had to compete with all the birds and insects. I almost never get more than a few cherries off my tree even today.

Fruit would have been hard work and transitory. Without a global food system it still would be. No oranges in Canada and no bananas. People my age still remember getting an orange in their stocking – it was such a treat back in the day.

So what do you drink when you are not drinking alcohol? We drank alcohol from the beginning as it enabled us to keep the fruit and also eat fruit that we could not eat on its own because it was too bitter (The apple again) Why not water? Why do our kids have to drink sugar?

 

A wonderful historic context for the sugar hypthesis

iftl-fig4

There are 2 more in the series.

Worried about Cancer – This is the best resource I have seen to help you take charge

antiangio


Dr Li’s research shows us a key aspect of cancer and the then fat – blood supply. That there are drugs now that work to reduce specific parts of the blood supply that feed cancer. No Blood Supply, Cancer cannot grow.

But then – much more interesting and in line with our philosophy here shows us that we can do better than treat better – we can Eat to Starve Cancer and by the wayt Obesity – for Fat too demands a blood supply. What foods work best?

The bottom line is that with the right diet you can reduce your chances enormously of ever getting cancer. And of course of getting and staying fat – that opens us up to Type 2 Diabetes and all the other Diseases of Modern Life.

Dr Li shows us what to eat that works best – Here Michael reminds us on the ONE thing you must not eat – Sugars in all their forms – for they feed the cancers and create the fat. … Continue Reading

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

carpal-tunnel

A week of editing 63 videos for Michael and splitting wood for me left me unable to use my right hand. The pain was excruciating – especially at night.
So what to do?

The medical profession of course leads off with anti inflammatories and then defaults to surgery. Others have splints and prosthetics to see you.

But I looked to see for advice that would enable me to undo the strain and here it is. It could not be more simple and in 4 days I was completely better.

Bad Science – Vs Good Science – Why we are so confused

Every day a new headline – This is bad for you – then it is good for you. This diet – that diet.

So how can we make sense of the “science”? This video by Tom Naughton has helped me a lot. It is also very funny and worth the 45 minutes. But you will also get the gist of it in the first 10 if you are short of time. Naughton’s video channel is packed with well made films that get the heart of the confusion today.

How do you want to grow old? Sick & helpless or fit and active – Our choice!

May 17, 2011 Aging No Comments

On PEI the average man gets so ill that by the time he reaches 65 is is defined as helpless and disabled. He becomes reliant on his family and the state to look after him.

Worse! He then lives for 9.7 years.

This is why our healthcare system will fall over as the majority of Islanders will be over 60 in 15 years time.

This is what will happen to PEI’s Economy. Already Healthcare is 78% of the province’s own tax resources. By 2015 it will be well through what we could possible tax and what we could possibly think our economy coud provide. By 2020 it will be double. So the crisis is in site.

So that is what is on the cards for us as a society – and this applies right across Canada and in the US medicare is under the same pressure. For it is the disability that our chronic diseases create later in life that are the cost driver. So long as our normal is to take care of things after they have gone wrong we are in trouble.

All of this applies to you and me as individuals too. I don’t want to be ill and helpless if I can avoid it. That is why I have decided to find out how best to avoid this. This is why it is such an eye opener to discover that this is not inevitable and that I and you can take steps to have a better outcome. Our design is the black line in the graph. We age well and fit and active. And then we die. Just like that.

I will do my best not to burden my family or you with my aging. So dear reader – what about you?

Irony – Living in Cities is now environmentally more healthy than the country – #activity

This image shows a shift in lifespan. Back in the day living in the city such as New York was bad for your health and lifespan. Today people in New York live linger and healthier lives. Why?

This article suggests that once the crime issues had been addressed in the 1990’s, that it was the basic design of the city that has made the difference. Above all people are more active in New York – they don’t drive everywhere – mainly they walk. So we see the activity issue in play again – for in rural areas, we all get into the car for any reason. New York has 2 out of the 3 areas of Evolutionary Fit all there by design. Rural areas have none of them. You have to work hard in the rural areas to find this fit – odd isn’t it. Here are the details..

The new reality was that living in the suburbs and the country was the killer. In January 2005, Vlahov and his colleagues penned a manifesto they cleverly called “The Urban Health ‘Advantage,’ ” and published it in the Journal of Urban Health. Cities, they posited, were now the healthiest places of all, because their environment conferred subtle advantages—and guided its citizens, often quite unconsciously, to adopt healthier behaviors.

Three years ago, Lawrence Frank, a professor of urban planning at the University of British Columbia, set out to measure this effect, examining 10,858 people in Atlanta and the type of neighborhood they lived in. Some were in purely residential suburban neighborhoods, where you had to get in your car to buy a carton of milk; others lived in “mixed” downtown areas with shops within walking distance. When he checked the results, the health difference was shockingly large: A white man who lived in a more urban, mixed-use area was fully ten pounds lighter than a demographically identical guy who lived in a sprawling suburb.

“The more you drive, the more you weigh,” Frank tells me after I call him to talk about it. He was unsurprised when I described New York’s increases in life expectancy. “You put people in an environment where public transportation is rational and driving is almost impossible, and it would be shocking not to see this outcome,” he says. Other scientists suggest that New York’s benefits do not occur merely because the city is walkable. It’s also because New York is old and filled with attractive architecture and interesting street scenes—since, as it turns out, aesthetically pretty places lure people out of their homes and cars. A 2002 study by the National Institutes of Health found that people living in buildings built before 1973 were significantly more likely to walk one-mile distances than those living in areas with newer architecture—because their environments were less architecturally ugly.

At the same time, New Yorkers are also more likely to visit parks than people who live in sprawl, because the parks are closer at hand. And proximity matters, as a study by Deborah Cohen, a senior natural scientist at the rand Corporation, discovered. When she examined the use of several parks in Los Angeles, she found that almost half the people using any given park lived no more than a quarter-mile away. In contrast, only 13 percent of the people using the park had come from more than a mile away. “The farther you are, the less willing you are to go to the park,” she notes.

Interestingly, urban theorists believe it is not just the tightly packed nature of the city but also its social and economic density that has life-giving properties. When you’re jammed, sardinelike, up against your neighbors, it’s not hard to find a community of people who support you—friends or ethnic peers—and this strongly correlates with better health and a longer life. Then there are economies of scale: A big city has bigger hospitals that can afford better equipment—the future of medicine arrives here first. We also tend to enjoy healthier food options, since demanding foodies (vegetarians and the like) are aggregated in one place, making it a mecca for farm-fresh produce and top-quality fish, chicken, and beef. There’s also a richer cultural scene than in a small town, which helps keep people out and about and thus mentally stimulated.

Here is a link to a pdf by David Vlahov on the “Urban Health Advantage that inspired this article and this further research.

So we see here the full irony – a big city like New York offers us at least 2 out the the 3 major areas of “Fit”

  1. By design it promotes activity
  2. It offers the best chance of finding your valued tribal role in a community that cares for you – Seinfeld!

So if you then eat real food – you have the trifecta! And  a place like New York offers better food too – like a magnet..

We also tend to enjoy healthier food options, since demanding foodies (vegetarians and the like) are aggregated in one place, making it a mecca for farm-fresh produce and top-quality fish, chicken, and beef.

The Science behind Activity


Sitting, it would seem, is an independent pathology. Being sedentary for nine hours a day at the office is bad for your health whether you go home and watch television afterward or hit the gym. It is bad whether you are morbidly obese or marathon-runner thin. “Excessive sitting,” Dr. Levine says, “is a lethal activity.”

The good news is that inactivity’s peril can be countered. Working late one night at 3 a.m., Dr. Levine coined a name for the concept of reaping major benefits through thousands of minor movements each day: NEAT, which stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. In the world of NEAT, even the littlest stuff matters. McCrady-Spitzer showed me a chart that tracked my calorie-burning rate with zigzagging lines, like those of a seismograph. “What’s that?” I asked, pointing to one of the spikes, which indicated that the rate had shot up. “That’s when you bent over to tie your shoes,” she said. “It took your body more energy than just sitting still.”

In a motion-tracking study, Dr. Levine found that obese subjects averaged only 1,500 daily movements and nearly 600 minutes sitting. In my trial with the magic underwear, I came out looking somewhat better — 2,234 individual movements and 367 minutes sitting. But I was still nowhere near the farm workers Dr. Levine has studied in Jamaica, who average 5,000 daily movements and only 300 minutes sitting.

Dr. Levine knows that we can’t all be farmers, so instead he is exploring ways for people to redesign their environments so that they encourage more movement. We visited a chairless first-grade classroom where the students spent part of each day crawling along mats labeled with vocabulary words and jumping between platforms while reciting math problems. We stopped by a human-resources staffing agency where many of the employees worked on the move at treadmill desks — a creation of Dr. Levine’s, later sold by a company called Steelcase.

Dr. Levine was in a philosophical mood as we left the temp agency. For all of the hard science against sitting, he admits that his campaign against what he calls “the chair-based lifestyle” is not limited to simply a quest for better physical health. His is a war against inertia itself, which he believes sickens more than just our body. “Go into cubeland in a tightly controlled corporate environment and you immediately sense that there is a malaise about being tied behind a computer screen seated all day,” he said. “The soul of the nation is sapped, and now it’s time for the soul of the nation to rise.”

Quite the best explanation of why we are so fat today

Please see the other videos in this series here

Tom Naughton is a genius communicator

Gluten and Celiac Disease

More and more people are sensitive to gluten and wheat. We have not changed in the last 50 years but the wheat we eat has. An excellent article at the WSJ here.

Modern wheat varieties have short stems, the result of RHt dwarfing genes that reduce the plant’s sensitivity to gibberellic acid, a plant hormone that lengthens cells. RHt genes were introduced to modern wheat varieties in the 1960s by Norman Borlaug from Norin 10 cultivars of wheat grown in Japan. Short stems are important because the application of high levels of chemical fertilizers would otherwise cause the stems to grow too high, resulting in lodging (collapse of the stems). Stem heights are also even, which is important for modern harvesting techniques.

If you wish to take control of your health, giving up grains is a key element. Many of us who come from heritages that have a long association with wheat have been able to tolerate it until middle age. BUT it now looks like even this period of tolerance is being reduced – for 90% of the wheat today is the novel variety from the 1960’s .

Better than going Gluten free – give up grains.

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Comments

  • 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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