Monday, February 20, 2012

Didn't cavemen die at 30?!

You know the question's crossed your mind.  When I first started on this journey it crossed mine too and luckily I stumbled upon FITBOMB's Q&A section that helped me make some sense of it all. Here is a direct copy from his site with some awesome info... Please let me know if any of the supportng links are broken and I'll help you find them.


Q: Didn't cavemen die by the age of 30 or something? Doesn't this suggest that their diets were crap?

A: Prehistoric humans certainly had shorter lifespans on average. (But only by about 10 years, actually.) What drove down their average number of years on earth? Hmm. Let's see: High rates of infant mortality, zero medical care, a perilous existence in the wild, predators, accidents, trauma -- the list goes on and on, though it probably doesn't include Type II diabetes. (I wonder how long we'd last if we were dumped in the middle of the woods without our cell phones and pants. I'd give myself a day and a half. And that's only if I had a good book and a Snuggie with me.)

Look: If 40 out of 100 cave-babies died before reaching the age of 10, even if every one of the survivors lived past the age of 60, the average age expectancy of the group will fall under 40 years.

The thing is, plenty of studies have been done about the longevity of modern day hunter-gatherer societies. As Loren Cordain has written:
In most hunter-gatherer populations today, approximately 10-20% of the population is 60 years of age or older. These elderly people have been shown to be generally free of the signs and symptoms of chronic disease (obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels) that universally afflict the elderly in western societies. When these people adopt western diets, their health declines and they begin to exhibit signs and symptoms of "diseases of civilization."
In fact, societies that adopted widespread agricultural practices have shown "a marked decline in health indicators," from shortened stature and degenerative bone conditions to skull deformities, dental problems, and increased infection risks. When agriculture was introduced to human societies, average life expectancy actually gotshorter, not longer.

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