WSJ and Evolutionary Biology

I’m a big fan of the Wall Street Journal, and I think it’s one of the few publications that manages to communicate the news without sensationalizing it to the point of absurdity. But even the “capitalist bible” is prone to occasional gaffes…

There’s a great piece in today’s WSJ on evolutionary biology that you should definitely read. It’s a well-written and very informative article that describes how many of our modern maladies can be traced to changes in our diet and activity patterns which – unfortunately – bear little resemblance to those of our ancestors.

I just have one quibble with the article and it involves following passage:

Our hunter-gatherer forbearers were tall, lean long-distance runners who subsisted on plants and protein.

The tall, lean high-protein omnivore part doesn’t bother me. But the long-distance runner contention most certainly does.

There is no conclusive evidence that early humans were long-distance runners. Conversely, it is much more likely that we were low-aerobic trekkers who occasionally sprinted after prey or away from predators – whatever the scenario.

The key is, lengthy treadmill workouts and 20-mile training runs are not natural human activities. They’re unnatural fitness practices designed to accommodate equally unnatural high carbohydrate diets.

And while I’m not normally a betting man, I’d eagerly wager a double sawbuck that our Paleolithic ancestors didn’t wear sugar-laden “fuel belts” while out on the hunt.

3 Comments

  1. Beck
    February 23, 2010

    I agree with you and the article. I’m no authority, but I know what has worked and not worked for me. Eating a diet free of “modern” food inventions has been significant in my body chemistry, allergies and other things. I’m no purist, but paleo/primal eating is worth a try – even for skeptics. Although I haven’t heard much about women who eat this way and how it affects hormone balances.

    Swimming in freezing Lake Michigan is more mental than eating a primitive diet, BTW! LOL You’re nuts! But I love the blog and will seek out “ladder one” with fondness one of these cold days and think of the crazy swimmers hoping it’s not clogged with ice. Keep on!

    • srhernan
      February 24, 2010

      Hi Beck! You are correct – they didn’t have neoprene “back in the day” so our swimming antics are a purely modern phenomenon (or vice).

      Feel free to come on out any time we’re at the swim site. I try to post exact times whenever I can, but things tend to be a bit more spontaneous during the winter.

  2. diver dave
    February 23, 2010

    ? DID OUR ANCESTORS EAT STUFFED SPINICH PIZZA, PEANUT BUTTER AND BACON BAGELS AND PINEAPPLES WITH SECRET SAUCE ?


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