Friday, 25 April 2014

Lions, Bones & Diet

This healthy diet and lifestyle stuff IS complicated when we try to formalise it in to a set of prescriptive guidelines. We lose the overall view and context whilst unnecessarily complicating things as we try to structure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Imagine trying to describe the act of throwing a dart in to a dartboard using the language of mathematics (such as a programmer might be inclined to do to control a robot arm to perform this task).  Sure we would describe vectors, trajectories,  torque and so forth, but I assure you the best dart players alive don't use this approach - and would beat the robot every time. For the given effort, humans will beat robots for a long time to come.

So it is with diet and exercise.  We were chiselled by the forces of evolution to exploit a broad biological niche.  But we stray from those forces at our own peril.

Of course this is most apparent when we move a (non human) wild animal in to a domesticated environment. This is truly novel, animals such as big cats having even less time to adapt to to the industrial age than humans. The damage is often subtle, extensive and pervasive:

"It is pretty striking," says Luke Hunter, president of Panthera, a wild cat conservation organization based in New York. "There is a surprisingly high mortality rate of lions in captivity, a lot of which has gone unexplained," he says. This study is a starting point to understanding it, Hunter says, but cautions that more work needs to be done to link the bone malformations seen in the skull collections to neurological disorders.

"The foramen magnum is one of these most important holes in mammalian body," he says. "You can imagine if it were occluded or narrowed – which Saragusty and his colleagues are seeing – that could very well have consequences."

What aspect of growing up in a zoo could cause these malformations? Some have suggested they are linked to a lack of vitamin A, although many zoos add supplements of this to lions' diets.

Another possibility has to do with how lion cubs are fed in zoos. On the savannah, they eat entire carcasses including muscle, organs and everything apart from the largest bones. The act of crunching down on hard bone, says Hunter, builds up muscles that pull and stretch a cub's developing skull in ways that zoo diets don't. He says some of the better zoos will throw in whole donkey or cow legs, but the practice isn't common."

Deindustialise your diet, activity and sleep patterns.


FeelGoodEating said...

Hey A,
Hope all is well.

Is this your line ?
"Deindustialise your diet, activity and sleep patterns"

About sums it all up doesn't it?


Asclepius said...

Hi Marc, yep things are good at the moment thanks. I hope things are good with you too.

"De-industialise" - vintage Natural Messiah from 2008!