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babybadger's avatar

Do you think that going back to the way early hominids ate would reduce the diseases of our society today?

Asked by babybadger (1790 points ) February 2nd, 2012

I just finished a novel called Fat Cat by Robin Brande, and in it the main character goes back to eating as Homo erectus did as a part of a science experiment. She loses a lot of unecessary weight, feels better about herself, etc.

Do you think that eating what early hominids ate, or as close as we can get to it reasonably, is a way to become healthy or is even doable in our society? This would mean no manufactured products {chemicals and preservatives were not around in the time of Homo erectus, no fatty foods, no dairy products, etc.

Do you think the diseases our society has developed (Heart disease is a good example) would eventually disappear if everyone did this, theoretically?

Just kind of curious to hear opinions on this, this is very open-ended for discussion.

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20 Answers

mrrich724's avatar

Absolutely. . . obesity, heart disease, and many other problems are literally NONEXISTENT in societies that don’t have the “luxuries” we do, like processed foods, dairy, and restaurants/fast food.

Blackberry's avatar

We don’t have to go back to eat healthy. We can do it now, but it’s just hard for us to do that. Instead, we should get rid of some of the options, like ceasing to build more fast food joints and processed food factories, but that’s extreme as well. So, it really just comes down to choosing to eat as well as you can.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Dr. Oz did something like this with a group on his show. They lost weight and it helped on control her diabetes.

GladysMensch's avatar

It depends on how native one is willing to go. I agree that the rates of obesity and other modern ailments will drop. However, modern food preparation and safety standards eliminate things like parasites (worms), botulism, and many other food-born illnesses.

CWOTUS's avatar

You can do this already, and pretty easily, if you just buy fresh produce, meat and fish, and cook them without added sauces, sugar and salt. Don’t buy anything in the Frozen Food aisle; don’t buy anything in a box or can, and absolutely don’t buy anything “instant”.

Well, I say “easily”, but it means that you’ll have to actually learn to cook…

downtide's avatar

I’ll pass. In order to eat like that I’d need to either give up work to have enough time to grow and prepare my own food, or else I’d have to pay someone else to do it, neither of which I can afford to do.

And what was the lifespan of those early hominids? A lot less than mine, I’ll bet.

babybadger's avatar

They were eaten by wolves @downtide , and they weren’t as intelligent as us, but I see your realistic point.(:

saint's avatar

Sure. If you like the idea of living for about 20 years.

CWOTUS's avatar

Early man did live a short lifespan, but it wasn’t because of diet. Well, not directly, anyway. That is, it was only indirectly because of diet, since they were directly competing with other predators for their food, and they were hunting animals that could and did kill them and because they died from routine infections, bad water, broken bones and even dental problems. In a year with low rainfall they died from dehydration and starvation with the rest of the animals in their environment. The same things that make for short lifespans in the Third World today, that is. Infant mortality was a bitch then, too, which lowers “population” lifespan averages.

These days, diets filled with salt, sugar and excess calories are killing us… because we’re living long enough to die from the effects of a bad diet, which take longer than a wolf or bear to kill us.

incendiary_dan's avatar

We don’t need to look at other hominids. For most of our history, we ate healthy diets and, despite popular misconception, most people living this way lived well into old age (70+). The diet we’re adapted to is wild (or free range) meat, fruits, vegetables, and nuts, and only sparing amounts of grains and legumes (preferably sprouted).

ETpro's avatar

We definitely do better on a varied diet like that we ate as hunter gatherers. You don’t have to get religious about absolute observance of this to reap a substantial benefir, either.

marinelife's avatar

I think going back to how people ate a generation ago when we consumed 8 times less sugar would do much to stem the tide of chronic disease.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

I’m sure all Homo Erectus felt very good about themselves.

Answer: No.

Seek's avatar

I tried Paleo-dieting for a while. I lost some weight and got gallstones.

Now I’m vegetarian. It’s nice not overdosing on saturated fat and stomach acids.

Besides, the real ‘benefit’ of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle is the exercise gained by hunting and gathering. If you’re still sedentary, you’re just eating better food. That’s fine and all, but the weight loss and other benefits will be minimal.

fundevogel's avatar

I’d just like to point out that just 100 years ago people had trouble keeping fruits and vegetables a regular part of their diet because they’re seasonal and you can’t keep them around in the winter without a refrigerator and shipping from someplace that can grow them once it’s too cold in your local clime.

The problem with pre-modern diets was you were really stuck with what was available (a lot less than is now) and without modern refrigeration you had a much smaller storage window. So I guess what I’m saying is pre-modern diets had a lot of potential in the growing season, and massive deficits once cold struck.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@fundevogel That’s not necessarily true. Numerous means of preserving produce without electricity exist. Drying, fermenting, and canning were common, and fermenting adds probiotics to the mix. Simple technology such as zeer pots can keep produce cool and preserve it longer than many refrigerators.

Also, in the late 1800’s produce was shipped from New York to Florida in the winter.

incendiary_dan's avatar

Also, if you don’t mind me asking @Seek_Kolinahr, was the source of the bulk of your animal protein and fat from grass fed and free range animals? That’s one of the biggest things people overlook when they try out Paleo dieting. Conventionally (factory) farmed animals are sickly, and therefore their fats are out of balance (too much Omega-6, an inflammatory) and they lack vitamin D. And, that would lead to gallstones.

The real benefit to hunter-gatherer lifestyle is both the moderate exercise and a diet that is nutrient dense. Wild and free range animal fats are like that, as are wild and homegrown vegetation (particularly in polycrops).

fundevogel's avatar

@incendiary_dan Do you have information on how available those storage techniques and imported produce were to people? Were they primarily available in specific regions or limited to people with in certain castes or for commercial use or was the technology available and affordable to pretty much everyone? The rich after all have always been better taken care of than the rest, it wouldn’t be fair to hold up their diet as an example of historical diets when it wouldn’t be representative of how most people were able to eat.

Canning came in to usage in the 19th century and certainly was a great thing, though initially they sealed the cans with lead solder which is believed to have given the crew of the Franklin Expedition chronic lead poisoning which made them go crazy and make super bad decisions when their ship got stuck in the ice. An extreme case yes, but I think that wasn’t great for their diet.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@fundevogel From what I know it’s more cultural than class oriented, i.e. some people use things, others don’t. Zeer pots are primarily used by Arabic speaking peoples, for example. Persian peoples invented large conical structures dug into the earth that stored produce for months. Can’t remember the name of those. Some of it is climate; drying works better where it’s dry, same with zeer pots. Ice boxes were huge 100 years ago, those being obviously dependent on importation of ice. Fermenting is more common in some ethnic groups.

fundevogel's avatar

Cool, thanks for the update :)

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