My sons and I recently watched a documentary on the Ice Man, who lived and died nearly 5,500 years ago on the northern border of what is now Italy. The insight gleaned from this well preserved ancient is staggering. I could not help but to reflect on areas having to do with my work and interests.
“Your X ray shows arthritis…”
“Heck no, GMOs!!!” [Genetically modified organisms.]
“Humans are not meant to eat meat.”
“Humans should only be meeting meats and certain vegetation, like our hunter-gatherer forefathers.”
“Wheat/gluten etc etc is making you fat and sick.”
The Ice Man was approximately 40 years old, stood 5’5″ and weighed nearly 110 pounds. This was average- to large size for the time. And you thought GMOs were a bad thing, where literally billions more people have the opportunity to eat plenty and thrive to be (relative) giants? I mean, we have time and energy to pour into things like sports and building massive sand castles that will be wiped out in less than a day.
The Ice Man showed bacterial evidence of stomach ulcers, he had Lyme’s Disease, and he had advanced osteoarthritis of the knees and spine. Remember this when you complain about work stress, conventional medicine, and having to sit in a chair for too long. Your MRI that shows some arthritis of weight bearing joints is completely normal. Sadly, the Ice Man showed no evidence of IcyHot knee sleeves or Kinesiotape.
Was the Ice Man a hunter-gatherer, which implies a long history of humans eating meat? Was he more of a farmer, which implies settling into one piece of land with less meat and less variety of foods?
The contents of Ice Man’s stomach contained two different kinds of meat AND processed grains (from farm practices of that time). A few hours before he was shot from behind with a bow and arrow, he had a meal of ferns, ibex meat, and some type of wheat product, most likely bread. Sorry vegetarians, paleo-strict hunter/gatherers, and those who try to claim that wheat is the downfall of humankind.
Most of us are not interested in the nuance of context and conflicting pieces of evidence. We hear many claims that are supposedly based on the past, especially in the areas of diet and health. But we can hardly imagine what life was like 500 much less 5000 years ago. Nor do we consider our own biases.
We want simple rules to follow regarding how to eat and behave. Somehow, we always find ways of fitting foods like Brownies into our enlightened mode of thinking and eating. We expect that every individual should live for a long, mostly problem free life.
Moderation is definitely called for, but we should seriously appreciate those brownies. Because if Ice Man was found frozen and intact, and regained consciousness today, I’m fairly certain what would make the largest impression on him. I imagine his first spoken words.
“Got any more of those brownies?”