Monday, October 14, 2013

THE STORY OF THE HUMAN BODY by Daniel E. Lieberman

A good reason to listen to audiobooks while walking or doing chores (rather than reading books while sitting in a Lazy-Boy) is provided an entire chapter in THE STORY OF THE HUMAN BODY by Daniel E. Lieberman, as read by Sean Runnette. Yes, the features of a Lazy Boy are outlined by Lieberman as he describes how reading comfortably is "dysevolutionary," meaning not in line with how our bodies are designed to function. Beginning with an examination of Paleolithic man as hunter/gatherer, he shows how farming and fire began to radically change the structure of the human body, as chewing and foraging took less and less time. This has been our goal ever since---to extract food energy at less cost to us. Today we have many labor saving devices, and the goal of society is comfort and indulgence. But this is the opposite of what one's body needs for optimum health. Stress, Lieberman argues, is what strengthens bodies and makes us more resilient to fight disease. Stone age man was forced to walk or run for miles daily to acquire less rich foods than we eat today: foods that were more diverse while rendering fewer calories. The opposite is true now. Today we call Dominos and order meat and cheese pizzas with 2 liter bottles of soda, obtaining many times the calories without the attendant effort. We sit and eat, sit and watch TV, sit and read, sit at desks and "work." In addition, we no longer get as diverse a mix of foods, as the many ancient and more nutritious grains like amaranth have been replaced by cheaper-to-grow corn, wheat, and rice. Not only this, but these fewer grains are highly processed to reduce their nutrition even more while increasing their energy content and taste. This causes us to intake much more energy than we expend, and leads to epidemics of diabetes, heart disease, and cancers---which were far less prevalent in the past. Go to the mall and watch even children using the escalator, standing instead of walking, not knowing that escalators and elevators were originally installed there for use by the handicapped and invalids. Likewise, school physical education programs have been cut by half in favor of voluntary sports programs, something Lieberman decries. Our society focuses its health care on treatment of symptoms rather than on underlying causes or prevention. This has ballooned the profits of drug companies and for-profit hospitals and junk food manufacturers rather than focusing on the fact that 70% of the $2 Trillion dollars we spend on health care yearly is completely preventable by diet and exercise. For the full story about why this professor of evolutionary biology and biological sciences at Harvard is also in favor of taxing soda (liquid candy) to the same degree as cigarettes, listen to this audiobook while walking. Preferably in rolling terrain that includes going uphill. Do this three times a week and you've just reduced your chance of dying years earlier by half.  


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