Thesis 52

Thesis #52 – All people without significant agricultural ancestry should revert to patterns of nutrition and activity which have physiological effects like those of hunter-gatherer lifestyles, in order to slow their aging and hasten its cessation.

The case of individuals who do not come from long-established agricultural populations is much less ambiguous.  All such individuals should avoid (i) agricultural foods, (ii) exposure to the abundant pathogens harbored by agricultural societies, and (iii) activity patterns more appropriate to the cultivation of crops or the herding of dairy animals.  Individuals with such ancestry who avail themselves of modern medicine, sanitation, vaccination, and the like, but avoid the forgoing environmental factors, could have their medical prospects can be transformed.

As Lindeberg documents extensively in his book “Food and Western Disease,” such individuals can obtain dramatic relief from chronic Western diseases by avoiding the diet and activity patterns of the Western lifestyle.  His data show a dramatic improvement with respect to the risks and debilitation of specific chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, among those who have done this.

In Hamiltonian terms, what occurs with such lifestyle transitions, among individuals with non-agricultural ancestry, is a recovery of high levels of adaptation, or Darwinian fitness, upon reversion to the physiological environment to which these populations are well-adapted.  If the tools of modern medicine and public health are added to such a recovery of adaptation, these populations will have transformed their aging process.  They will have a higher level of adaptation when young, and will not be subjected to as rapid a deterioration when older.

But there are still greater possible benefits.  For the demography of life-history evolution in such hunter-gatherer populations is very likely to have entailed the potential for a much earlier age at which aging stops.  Among these populations, if they make the lifestyle transition that I am recommending here, it may be possible for them to halt their aging at a surprisingly high level of function, and then sustain that high level of function indefinitely.  These individuals, in effect, have the potential to be the vanguard of post-aging human life.  Given sufficient attention to their intermittent medical needs, they may show the rest of the species what the eventual “defeat of aging” might look like for the rest of the species.

It should be born in mind that this prospect is available only to those whose ancestry has suffered the least introgression of gene sequences from agricultural populations.  There are no doubt relatively few people like this alive today.  Yet they are among the most important test-cases for the conquest of aging in our time.  As such, it would behoove the rest of us to treat them particularly well, as research with them may offer us some of our best clues as to how we can escape from our protracted and severely debilitating aging.

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