The fascinating and comprehensive evolutionary perspective on human health presented in Go Wild by Dr. John Ratey and Richard Manning compellingly describes the importance of nutrition, exercise, sleep, socializing and contact with nature in our lives. While the tone can seem bombastic at times, the writing brings together a great collection of research findings and stories into an enthralling arc. It’s like The Social Conquest of Earth meets The Wild Life of Our Bodies meets Your Brain on Nature and then some.
Here are some passages from the book I found quite striking.
Humans are the Swiss Army knives of motion.
The evolution of our unique brains was locked into the evolution of our wide range of movement.
…nomadism, bipedalism, and omnivory—are defining for our entire genus and have accrued over the course of two million years of hominid history.
…the calorie content made available to your body is, in fact, to some degree dependent on the type of bacteria in your digestive system, a population that varies wildly from person to person.
…a study in 2011 showed that eating trans fats greatly increases the risk of clinical depression…
“One researcher in education—not in nutrition—performed a meta-analysis of all peer-reviewed research on proven methods to increase a child’s intelligence (that is, boost academic performance). The conclusion: “Supplementing infants with long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids [specifically omega-3s], enrolling children in early educational interventions, reading to children in an interactive manner, and sending children to preschool all raise the intelligence of young children.”
Annual per capita sugar consumption in the United States was 5 pounds per person in 1700, 23 pounds in 1800, 70 pounds in 1900, and 152 pounds today. Continue reading