Believe it or not, our DNA is almost exactly the same as that of our ancestors. While scientific advances in agriculture, medicine, and technology have protected man, to some degree, from dangers such as starvation, illness, and exposure, the fact remains that our cave-dwelling cousins were considerably healthier than we are. Our paleolithic ancestors did not suffer from heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or obesity. In fact, a good deal of what we view as normal aging is a modern condition that is more akin to disease than any natural state of growing older.
Our predecessors were incomparably better nourished than we are, and were incredibly physically fit. And certainly none of them ever craved a doughnut, let alone tasted one. In fact, the human preference for sweet tastes and fatty textures was developed in an environment where such treats were rare, and signaled dense, useful energy. This once-helpful adaptation is the downfall of many a dieter today. It’s what makes it hard to resist fats and sweets, especially when they are all around us.
We are not living as we were built to live. Our genes were forged in an environment where activity was mandatory—you were active or you starved or were eaten. This created strong selective pressure for genes encoding a smart, physically adept individual capable of very high activity levels. Humans are among the most active of species, and we carry energetically expensive brains to boot. Our energy expenditures rank high among all animals. At least they once did.
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