my take on things - comments about all the world and his brother
Published on February 13, 2010 By utemia In Everything Else

I guess I gotta watch out next time I visit.. honestly. who comes up with ideas like this?

From Spiegel Magazine http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,677121,00.html

Modern Day Flintstones

A Stone Age Subculture Takes Shape in the US

By Philip Bethge

A modern-day Stone Age subculture is developing in the United States, where wannabe cavemen mimic their distant ancestors. They eat lots of meat, bathe in icy water and run around barefoot. Some researchers say people led healthier lives in pre-historic times.

John Durant greets the hunter-gatherers of New York once a month in his apartment on the Upper East Side. They eat homemade beef jerky, huddle around the hearth and swap recipes for carpaccio with vegetables or roasted wild boar.

Often enough, the host will deliberately skip a few meals the next day. After all, didn't his earliest ancestors starve a little between hunts? Instead of eating, Durant prefers to run barefoot across Brooklyn Bridge. In the winter, he takes part in the Coney Island Polar Bear swim in the icy Atlantic.

 

The 26-year-old and the other members of the New York group promoting what they term "Evolutionary Fitness" (EF) are part of a growing subculture that seeks health and happiness by emulating their Paleolithic forefathers. This diehard clan of modern-day cavemen call themselves "hunter-gatherers" or "paleos". Their philosophy is based on the idea that the human body is best suited to the lifestyle of the people who roamed the Earth tens of thousands of years ago.

Not surprisingly, the diet of these 21st-century hunter-gatherers is packed with meat. But they also practice climbing, sprinting and leaping as it they still lived in fear of marauding mammoths. Some even donate blood as part of their Stone Age existence. After all, hadn't their forebears spilt a lot of blood fighting saber-toothed tigers and their ilk?

Attuned to the Rhythm of the Seasons

"What did people eat back then? How did they move about? And what does it mean for us today?" Durant asks. The answers, he suggests, are obvious. Human genes are perfect for a nomadic existence; for the life of a hunter-gatherer attuned to the rhythm of the seasons.

"Prehistoric life was a very long camping trip with no camp stove or energy bars to get us through," says Arthur De Vany. The retired economics professor is something like the movement's guiding force. "We're not trying to idealize Stone Age Man," he says. However, he does think that evolution allows us to make some inferences about how we could lead healthier, happier lives.

De Vany and his wife Carmela live in a small settlement called Washington in the Utah desert. Their lounge window looks out over a lush green golf course. "I often sprint a bit out there in the morning," 72-year-old De Vany says. For the past 25 years he's been following a plan of his own devising. His body is like that of an athletic 45-year-old. He's 185 centimeters (6'1") tall, and weighs 95kg (210 pounds) -- "with just 8 percent body fat". De Vany can hit a golf ball 250 meters (275 yards), and likes to test his muscles by pulling his Land Rover with a rope.

This born-again caveman exercises no more than twice a week, and for barely an hour each time. He thinks continuous exertion like jogging is harmful. "Have you ever tried to butcher a mammoth with a stone?" the fitness guru asks. The key to happiness à la De Vany lies in short but intense physical activity.

He also sets himself strict nutritional rules. Paleo food may consist only of the kind of things that our ancient ancestors would have eaten. Muesli? An abomination in the eyes of this modern-day Fred Flintstone. Spaghetti? "A plate full of sugar," De Vany counters. He considers carbohydrates of all kinds to be hellish. Followers of EF shun potatoes, chocolate, pizza and bread as well as milk, cheese and refined oils. Instead there's lots of game and fish, fresh vegetables, seeds and fruit.

Freezing Nights without Clothing

"We try to only eat what was around before the invention of agriculture," De Vany explains. And variety is the spice of life. One morning Carmela serves roast turkey with bacon for breakfast, another day there's half an avocado.

The former professor has a pretty precise idea about the life of prehistoric Man. "I admire their skill and their resilience," he enthuses. "They could survive freezing nights without clothing."

De Vany is a romantic. Even so, researchers are prepared to confirm some of his theories. Lynda Frassetto, a doctor at the University of California in San Fransisco, conducted an experiment in which she put healthy subjects on a paleo diet for just 10 days, feeding them nothing but lean meat, fruit, vegetables and nuts. Everything else was strictly forbidden. Lo and behold, the subjects' blood pressure improved and their insulin levels sank.

American researcher Loren Cordain also calls for more "species-appropriate nutrition". He says the "average Stone Age diet" comprised of anywhere between 60 and 80 percent fat and protein. Cordain claims today's carbohydrate-rich diets don't match our genetic makeup and are the reason for developed-country diseases like diabetes and high blood-pressure.

"Healthy Stone Age people were far stronger and fitter than we are today," claims US anthropologist John Shea. He says tiny fractures in the bones of long-deceased hunter-gatherers can tell researchers a lot about the lives of ancient Man: "Their activities varied greatly. When they were looking for food, they ran a lot. But they probably only hunted about once a week."

Although their average life expectancy was very short, he posits it was not due to ill-health, but rather because of infection, accidents, and the high infant mortality rate.

So is it really wise to surrender ourselves to our brutish past? Richard Nikoley in San Jose, California, is convinced it is. His Web site is called "Free the Animal", and he's already unleashed his inner beast. Three years ago he weighed more than 100 kilograms (230 pounds). Today he's almost 30 kilos (60 pounds) lighter. And the 49-year-old says he's "never felt stronger."

Nikoley is particularly fond of showing his bare torso. He's not afraid of suffering for his beliefs either. "Animals don't hunt on full stomachs," he asserts. The businessman has fasted for 30 hours at a stretch between workouts before eating again. His finding: "My head has never been clearer."

Back in New York, Durant recently met with one of the pioneers of the movement. Thirty-eight-year-old Erwan Le Corre is a kind of Stone Age revivalist. The Frenchman may wear sport shorts rather than a loincloth, but his body looks like he could pick a fight with a woolly rhinoceros.

Le Corre's fitness club is the great outdoors. Take part in one of his courses, and you'll find yourself crawling on all fours through the undergrowth, playing knock-down with stones the size of bowling balls, and running half-naked through the jungle. "It was amazing," Durant says of his recent visit to the master's training camp in Mexico. "We climbed trees, we learned how to jump properly and we dragged tree trunks around."

The life of the average latter-day wimp is dull by comparison. "I consider us modern humans to be more or less like lab rats, living in a protected environment, free from predation, and with a predictable food supply," De Vany bemoans. Caged rodents may live three times as long on average than their wild ancestors, but at what price?

"There's an experiment in which you hang a rat from a wire and see how long it can hold on," De Vany explains. "Laboratory rats fall to the ground after only a short time."

And wild rats? "They pull themselves up and scamper away."


Comments (Page 1)
on Feb 13, 2010

And yet they averaged what, half or less the lifetime of modern humans?

 

on Feb 13, 2010

I've heard the claims about humans' ""natural" diet/activity level/climate/sex life/whatever" before, but I had no idea statistically-significant numbers of mentally "healthy" people were actually living out the Flintstones........ the story is so implausible I question its veracity, but who could ever make something like this up!?

I guess we'll always have to put up with Luddites in our midst..... at least by going Paleo they've eliminated any real possibility of blowing up buildings...... aaah well,eventually natural selection will take its course and the nerds shall finally rule the multiverse...

on Feb 13, 2010

Kitkun
And yet they averaged what, half or less the lifetime of modern humans?

 

Actually, that was mostly due to childbirth and early life related deaths. If a person made it past the age of about 3 then they had a decent shot to live 60 years or more. Before the agricultural revolution people were actually taller and healthier then when people became 'civilized.' It wasn't until modern sanitation and enriched foods came around during the early 1900's that people, on average, got taller and healthier then before agriculture.

on Feb 13, 2010

Spiegel is a respectable magazine in Germany. That doesn't mean their immune to hoaxes of course.. but this story isn't implausible just crazy

on Feb 13, 2010

Kitkun
And yet they averaged what, half or less the lifetime of modern humans?

 


Which was mainly due to lack of sanitation, predation, childbirth, or early child death. As Myles said.

Though really, I don't see how this is so ridiculous. It's not like they're hurting anyone, correct?

on Feb 13, 2010

Nobody but themselves........ but they are being completely insane....

on Feb 13, 2010

Did anybody bother to read the topic?  The people are basically using a simplified diet free of presevatives (lean meat, fruit, vegetables, nuts), and work out in nature.  All of these are things I did in boy scouts and things I also do to lose weight.  I guess I am a cave man too (*cough* Ignore my workstation and teleporter shower please).

Seriously, the title was purely sensationalism.

on Feb 13, 2010

lol. Sorry about that. I was torn what to call the blogentry - my first choice had been "Americans are crazy" but that was a bit too harsh (even if its true ). I also didn't generalize americans as primitive. Primitivism and primitive do not have the same meaning. Primitivism is not per se negatively connotated.

Check it out on Wikipedia

The sheesh at the end was more out of bafflement than disdain.

on Feb 13, 2010

Meh, it sounds sensible enough.  Of course, I'm not going to run anywhere barefoot, sure our ancestors didn't have shoes, but neither did they risk treading on a dirty hypodermic needle.

 

To make a better point, the advances in medicine and agriculture have actually made people more numerous, not healthier.  In the sort of times these people are trying to emulate, there were very few humans around (comparitively) as various different things (like tigers) killed off the weaker ones, which means that those who did survive were most certainly healthier and fitter naturally (and probably smarter too).  I wouldn't give up my aeroplanes and air-conditioners for anything though.

on Feb 13, 2010

I don't think this is crazy at all. The overall picture is alittle goofy but the idea of fasting, dieting and natural fitness routines have been around for a long long time. They also tend to work very well but they are hard to maintain. 

on Feb 14, 2010

Real Neanderthals didn't eat THAT much meat. Sure they were hunters but it's not like they were able to kill something every night or even every week. For a more accurate example of what their diet might have been like I would suggest a study of Native American diets prior to their contact with Europeans. Sure they ate lots of meat but not every day. They ate a lot of vegetables and fruits and dried fruits and cornmeal as well as wild game.

The article gives the impression these guys are eating the equivalent of a cow every night.

 

on Feb 14, 2010

They look happy, they don't harm anyone. God bless them !

on Feb 14, 2010

Raven X
Real Neanderthals didn't eat THAT much meat. Sure they were hunters but it's not like they were able to kill something every night or even every week. For a more accurate example of what their diet might have been like I would suggest a study of Native American diets prior to their contact with Europeans. Sure they ate lots of meat but not every day. They ate a lot of vegetables and fruits and dried fruits and cornmeal as well as wild game.

The article gives the impression these guys are eating the equivalent of a cow every night.

You do mean primitive Homo sapiens here, right? Neanderthals are another species.

 

...

 

I don't doubt this diet might work under a controlled environment, after all, it worked and was perfected in two hundred ninety thousand years. More time is needed to assess what does it truly brings, though.

on Feb 14, 2010

You look at Mbuti pygmies, and those that actually live in the Ituri, not the ones that live in plantations. They are healthy as shit. They may die younger, but they get a much better run than we do. Fact is, civilization is a breeding ground for disease and vitamin deficiency. On the other hand, pygmies have been known to kill elephants single-handedly.

Pygmies live pretty good lives. They're generally a happy people who only need to hunt and work for 3 hours a day in order to survive. The rest of the time they literally just spend time hanging out. There's practically no violence.

You take pygmy out of the Ituri, they start to die. Not just of disease. Sun exposure. Their bodies are completely adapted to living in the Ituri. Even village life is dirty and unsanitary to them.

Pygmies also have one of the most stable society on Earth. They pretty much have lived the same way for thousands of years, despite pressures of outside forces to try and take them from the forest. The ancient egyptians had writings about the pygmies. If we don't nuke them during WWIII, they'll probably be there long after we all murder each other in an orgy of violence.

If your environment can support it, hunting and gathering is pretty much the way to go. Unfortunately, we'd all die, because collectively we'd just eat out the world.

EDIT: Also we've lost the hunting and gathering skills.

on Feb 14, 2010

Actually, that was mostly due to childbirth and early life related deaths. If a person made it past the age of about 3 then they had a decent shot to live 60 years or more. Before the agricultural revolution people were actually taller and healthier then when people became 'civilized.' It wasn't until modern sanitation and enriched foods came around during the early 1900's that people, on average, got taller and healthier then before agriculture.

I don't trust any information about this topic coming from someone with a caveman for an avatar....

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