I see kids who eat pizza, processed food, fair amounts of sugar etc, and remain seemingly fit and functional. But as they age, even if their diet does not change, they begin packing on the pounds, and become more and more disabled and diseased with time.
I'm wondering if their decline in health is because their body is getting older, and thus naturally becoming less able to deal with the various damaging aspects of a standard american diet; or if their diet is causing damage to the body which eventually accumulates into symptoms typically seen on a SAD diet.
Basically, someone being fed excellently by paleo standards from birth till 50 years old, if they then switched to a SAD diet, what would happen? Would they immediately suffer average SAD-eating 50 year old symptoms, for the rest of their years? Or might they remain seemingly fit and functional for say, 20 years, as kids seem to experience, before the damage catches up to them.
I think it is like many interesting questions in science: the answer is probably both
One thing I have learnt since becoming paleo and researching health and aging, is that we are all constantly aging, and it is the degree or pace at which you age which is what is important. Things like chronic insulin, and inflammation are very aging, and it is the buildup of the damage from these that eventually manifests itself as pathology.
Young peoples bodies are much more robust and able to repair the damage that is accumulating, so I think it is their age that let's them get away with it. As you age your repair mechanisms lose their effectiveness which is just a a natural by-product of post evolutionary selection effects, once you are of reproducing age the forces of evolution on you and your ancestors is less strong than they were before.
What is important to remember, that even with Paleo we are still constantly aging, always accumulating damage from metabolism that cannot or will not be repaired. Paleo just allows our body to fully exert its inbuilt mechanisms for dealing with this. This is why I am so big on supplementation; looking at if its "paleo" or not is missing the question. Paleo shouldn't matter if there is solid medical evidence of a compounds effectiveness in delaying aging, like Green Tea for example.
I imagine aging like a long car trip across the country, and your lifestyle dictates the speed at which you drive. Drop high-GI carbs/sugar and the associated blood sugar and insulin rush, and you've just slowed the car down a little. Add in colourful vegetables and berries and you've slown it down a little further. Throw in exercise you slow it down a lot. Get your vitamin D levels up, add some magnesium, fish oil, etc and you've just slowed it down some more. ^^ This is the way I view everything. Everything I do, from 5-10 cups of green tea per day, to a glass of red wine, to high-intensity exercise, to 1mg of lithium at night for my brain, all of these things are culmulative and add together, and I don't think of it as living longer, as getting me from 90 to 100, I see it as slowing my aging down now. That in the next 10 years I will have aged less than the typical 10 years for the typical person. When thought about it like this, I don't see making 100 years old as anything but a choice, the question is if you have the commitment to tweak all the knobs.
I do and so far so good ;)
Yeah, I think it takes a while to become damaged. This may happen a tad faster if you are older and hence weaker, but I think there is definitely an incubation period. People from other countries that eat healthier tend to remain healthier for a while. Of course, any time you shift from a good diet to a poorer one, there will of course also be immediate manifestations. You will not be as healthy as you would have been if you were eating healthy. You just won't be permanantely damaged yet. We may see lots of young fit looking teenagers around, but if those same teenagers were to go up against a young fit native huntergatherer, I think they would likely lose out bigtime.
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