Lactose tolerance a key to evolution?

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beLIEf (May 28, 2011, 12:15:53 PM):
Yes that would totally make sense as not only would people be smaller because of less food, but having a smaller body mass also requires less calories to sustain. Isn't nature clever?! :)
Lurkie (May 29, 2011, 14:05:42 PM):
One could also look at it from the opposite side and argue that in situations where food is scarce, such as among the hunter-gatherers, there is a competitive advantage to being small and able to survive on less food.

The surviving on less food idea is an interesting one and opens up some other avenues of discussion. Lewis Wolpert discusses this briefly in his recent book "How we live and why we die". Simplistically, one might think that more food = better growth, healthier bodies, better reproductive ability, better survival, better propagation of genetic material. However, there is evidence from animal studies that eating less (a lot less!) can significantly extend the lifespans and reproductive age in a variety of animals.

In rats, the studies showed that a 50% reduction in food led to life spans that were 40% longer than the well fed rats. More relevant to this discussion is that the max reproductive age of female rats almost doubled. Sufficient vitamin and mineral intake was important but it didn't matter whether the calories came from fat, protein or carbs.

Alarmingly, if the restricted feeding regime was stopped, the aging process then actually seems to be accelerated.

Hermes (May 29, 2011, 15:36:33 PM):
there is evidence from animal studies that eating less (a lot less!) can significantly extend the lifespans and reproductive age in a variety of animals

Eating too much can of course be unhealthy.
Lurkie (May 29, 2011, 16:00:28 PM):
Eating too little causes time to dilate - hence the apparent longevity. Life just seems longer because you're so darn hungry the whole time. ;)
beLIEf (May 29, 2011, 16:05:19 PM):
there is evidence from animal studies that eating less (a lot less!) can significantly extend the lifespans and reproductive age in a variety of animals

Eating too much can of course be unhealthy.


Yes there are loads of articles about the benefits of having a lower calorific intake and obviously eating less of certain foods. Longevity being the most widely claimed benefit. Even if the reduction is for a limited period of time.

So could it be that religions - most of which have periods of fasting or abstinence from certain foods have also contributed to people in certain nations living longer and healthier lives? (or at least offset some of the lives lost in holy war or the counter- health benefits of being wracked with guilt

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