Paleo mistakes

Not everything people ate in the Paleolithic was health-giving.

We see today far too many examples of short-sightednesss by Homo sapiens sapiens.  There was an evolutionary advantage in making decisions quickly in the face of obvious and critical threats and opportunities.  On the other hand, today we see action on longer term threats (such as global warming) deferred well beyond the point where deferral can have any chance of leading to a survival advantage.Here are examples of Paleo ill-health.  I list them here as a salutary caution.  Keep your wits about you, be critical; don't assume that "if it's Paleo, it's good".Kuru - this disease of the Kainantu area of Papua New Guinea's eastern highlands was endemic and its transmission was possible only because of the cultural practices of the people.  In eating the brains of their deceased elders, they were consuming prions which, a generation later, would kill them - when their brains might be eaten, to transmitting the disease once again.

Guam - Guam is known for high rates of a degenerative disease which has some of the hallmarks of motor neuron, Parkinson's and dementia.  Among the Chamorro people on the island, rates of the mysterious condition run at between 50 and 100 times the "normal" rate of motor neuron diseases found in other communities.  It now appears that the islanders' practice of catching and eating a type of bat called a flying fox may be to blame.  The flying foxes feed on seed containing BMAA - a neurotoxic chemical highly toxic to human brain cells.  High levels of the chemical accumulated in the bat tissues, was passed on.  Dr Paul Cox, one of the researchers, said: "This appears to be the consequence of biomagnification of the toxic substances in the food chain." (1)

(1) - BBC report published on the internet 23 August 2003

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