Monday, January 16, 2012

Something Completely Different

The topic of health and fitness comes up now and then in the III blogs.  I stumbled across this video while ping-ponging around the net over lunch today.  I found it pretty amazing, and worth the roughly 18 minutes to watch.

What if you tried to feed the world, to keep from millions from starving, and invented (hybridized or bred) a plant that succeeded.  It actually fed millions, allowed them to live, let them grow up and have children, gave them a better quality of life.  Imagine a custom hybrid grain, a grass, really, bred not to grow into "amber waves of grain", but short, stubby stalks with club-like seed heads (why waste all that energy making tall stems when the energy could go into the seeds - the grain).  And what if that plant, something that was never before in history in our diet, caused chronic diseases in much of the population, and wouldn't keep those people healthy?  It would allow them to survive to breeding age before coming down with these illnesses and dying a young death.  There are many who think that describes modern wheat. 

That population would have to change radically to survive as hunter-gatherers.  It would probably end up a much smaller population.


  1. I've been doing some research into the Paleo diet, and have seen some things that support that conclusion.

  2. Yeah, me, too. There doesn't seem to be complete agreement on what constitutes a paleo diet. For example, some say no dairy products and others say a few ounces a day is ok. Some say no coffee, no teas, while others allow it. And there's that 90 minute long Lustig biochemistry video on YouTube that argues that even the fructose in fruit can be viewed as poisonous.

    They all seem to agree to avoid grains, though.

    I've seen it summed up as JERF - just eat real food.

  3. GB-

    That's why I don't use the label for myself, though I consider myself in the Paleo sphere. I practice too many deviations, and there are a lot of dogmatic folks out there.

    I hate to badmouth Borlaug, but it does seem that his solution to the crisis of starvation has led the world to a longer but still unhealthy lifespan. I suppose that's progress in a way but it does leave another significant problem to solve. FWIW, potatoes are generally much less harmful than wheat while still providing a good calorie source. Sweet potatoes add nutrients to the equation, too. Perhaps those could become the new staple starches (obviously not a complete solution, as overreliance on starches will still leave people with the same insulin-based problems they have now).

  4. I eat too much dairy for the purists, and still have a couple of cups of coffee a day, but otherwise JERF.

    I don't want to badmouth Borlaug, either. The man literally saved the lives of, perhaps, a billion people. It's just not 100% free of risk, that's all. There is no escape from the Law of Unintended Consequences.