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Too Much of a Good Thing

How Four Key Survival Traits Are Now Killing Us

By Lee Goldman
15-minute read
Audio available
Too Much of a Good Thing: How Four Key Survival Traits Are Now Killing Us by Lee Goldman

The human body evolved to allow us to survive in a world very different from the one we inhabit today. These blinks explain why we’re not suited to the modern world, and the health complications we’re suffering as a result.

  • People suffering from obesity, high blood pressure, depression or coronary illnesses
  • Medical professionals
  • Anyone interested in genetics or evolution

Famed cardiologist and public health specialist Lee Goldman is a professor at the Columbia University Medical Center. He is best known for having developed the Goldman Criteria, a tool for determining which cardiac patients should get priority treatment.

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Too Much of a Good Thing

How Four Key Survival Traits Are Now Killing Us

By Lee Goldman
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Too Much of a Good Thing: How Four Key Survival Traits Are Now Killing Us by Lee Goldman
Synopsis

The human body evolved to allow us to survive in a world very different from the one we inhabit today. These blinks explain why we’re not suited to the modern world, and the health complications we’re suffering as a result.

Key idea 1 of 9

The human body isn’t suited to the modern world.

Older people often struggle when first learning how to use a computer. It takes time to adapt to the digital world. In the same way, the human body is confused by the modern world.

The human body is very slow to adapt to changes in the environment. Our ancestors were all dark-skinned and lived in Africa until only about 60,000 years ago. Because we need sunlight to stimulate our vitamin D production, the humans who migrated to less sunny areas suffered from deficiencies.

Vitamin D is important for developing robust bones, so people who could take in more sunlight had a better chance of survival. So, over thousands of generations, random genetic mutations that resulted in lighter skin gave people an advantage, and were passed on to new generations.

After thousands of years, our ancestors’ bodies gradually adapted to the less sunny environments and the people in them developed lighter skin.

However, since the industrial revolution, our environment has been changing at a much faster rate than we can keep up with.

The Industrial Revolution has changed a lot about the way we live. Whereas food used to be scarce, we now have an overabundance of it. Many more people have lives based around intellectual pursuits rather than physical work, and our societies are much safer and less violent. As a result, our bodies are pretty confused.

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