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The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease par [Lieberman, Daniel]
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The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease Format Kindle

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Longueur : 434 pages Word Wise: Activé Langue : Anglais

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Like most people, I am fascinated by the human body, but unlike most folks, who sensibly relegate their interest in people’s bodies to evenings and weekends, I have made the human body the focus of my career. In fact, I am extremely lucky to be a professor at Harvard University, where I teach and study how and why the human body is the way it is. My job and my interests allow me to be a jack-of-all trades. In addition to working with students, I study fossils, I travel to interesting corners of the earth to see how people use their bodies, and I do experiments in the lab on how human and animal bodies work.
Like most professors, I also love to talk, and I enjoy people’s questions. But of all the questions I am commonly asked, the one I used to dread the most was “What will human beings look like in the future?” I hated this question! I am a professor of human evolutionary biology, which means I study the past, not what lies ahead. I am not a soothsayer, and the question made me think of tawdry science fiction movies that depict humans of the distant future as having enormous brains, pale and tiny bodies, and shiny clothing. My reflexive answer was always something along the lines of: “Human beings aren’t evolving very much because of culture.” This response is a variant of the standard answer that many of my colleagues give when asked the same question.
I have since changed my mind about this question and now consider the human body’s future to be one of the most important issues we can think about. We live in paradoxical times for our bodies. On the one hand, this era is probably the healthiest in human history. If you live in a developed country, you can reasonably expect all your offspring to survive childhood, to live to their dotage, and to become parents and grandparents. We have conquered or quelled many diseases that used to kill people in droves: smallpox, measles, polio, and the plague. People are taller, and formerly life-threatening conditions like appendicitis, dysentery, a broken leg, or anemia are easily remedied. To be sure, there is still too much malnutrition and disease in some countries, but these evils are often the result of bad government and social inequality, not a lack of food or medical know-how.
On the other hand, we could be doing better, much better. A wave of obesity and chronic, preventable illnesses and disabilities is sweeping across the globe. These preventable diseases include certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, strokes, kidney disease, some allergies, dementia, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other illnesses. Billions of people are also suffering from ailments like lower back pain, fallen arches, plantar fasciitis, myopia, arthritis, constipation, acid reflux, and irritable bowel syndrome. Some of these troubles are ancient, but many are novel or have recently exploded in prevalence and intensity. To some extent, these diseases are on the rise because people are living longer, but most of them are showing up in middle-aged people. This epidemiological transition is causing not just misery but also economic woe. As baby boomers retire, their chronic illnesses are straining health-care systems and stifling economies. Moreover, the image in the crystal ball looks bad because these diseases are also growing in prevalence as development spreads across the planet.
The health challenges we face are causing an intense worldwide conversation among parents, doctors, patients, politicians, journalists, researchers, and others. Much of the focus has been on obesity. Why are people getting fatter? How do we lose weight and change our diets? How do we prevent our children from becoming overweight? How can we encourage them to exercise? Because of the urgent necessity to help people who are sick, there is also an intense focus on devising new cures for increasingly common noninfectious diseases. How do we treat and cure cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and the other illnesses most likely to kill us and the people we love?
As doctors, patients, researchers, and parents debate and investigate these questions, I suspect that few of them cast their thoughts back to the ancient forests of Africa, where our ancestors diverged from the apes and stood upright. They rarely think about Lucy or Neanderthals, and if they do consider evolution it is usually to acknowledge the obvious fact that we used to be cavemen (whatever that means), which perhaps implies that our bodies are not well adapted to modern lifestyles. A patient with a heart attack needs immediate medical care, not a lesson in human evolution.
If I ever suffer a heart attack, I too want my doctor to focus on the exigencies of my care rather than on human evolution. This book, however, argues that our society’s general failure to think about human evolution is a major reason we fail to prevent preventable diseases. Our bodies have a story—an evolutionary story—that matters intensely. For one, evolution explains why our bodies are the way they are, and thus yields clues on how to avoid getting sick. Why are we so liable to become fat? Why do we sometimes choke on our food? Why do we have arches in our feet that flatten? Why do we have backs that ache? A related reason to consider the human body’s evolutionary story is to help understand what our bodies are and are not adapted for. The answers to this question are tricky and unintuitive but have profound implications for making sense of what promotes health and disease and for comprehending why our bodies sometimes naturally make us sick. Finally, I think the most pressing reason to study the human body’s story is that it isn’t over. We are still evolving. Right now, however, the most potent form of evolution is not biological evolution of the sort described by Darwin, but cultural evolution, in which we develop and pass on new ideas and behaviors to our children, friends, and others. Some of these novel behaviors, especially the foods we eat and the activities we do (or don’t do), make us sick.
Human evolution is fun, interesting, and illuminating, and much of this book explores the amazing journey that created our bodies. I also try to highlight the progress achieved by farming, industrialization, medical science, and other professions that have made this era the best of all times so far to be a human. But I am no Pangloss, and since our challenge is to do better, the last few chapters focus on how and why we get sick. If Tolstoy were writing this book, perhaps he might write that “all healthy bodies are alike; each unhealthy body is unhealthy in its own way.”
The core subjects of this book—human evolution, health, and disease—are enormous and complex. I have done my best to try to keep the facts, explanations, and arguments simple and clear without dumbing them down or avoiding essential issues, especially for serious diseases such as breast cancer and diabetes. I have also included many references, including websites, where you can investigate further. Another struggle was to find the right balance between breadth and depth. Why our bodies are the way they are is simply too large a topic to cover because bodies are so complex. I have therefore focused on just a few aspects of our bodies’ evolution that relate to diet and physical activity, and for every topic I cover, there are at least ten I don’t. The same caveat applies to the final chapters, which focus on just a few diseases that I chose as exemplars of larger problems. Moreover, research in these fields is changing fast. Inevitably some of what I include will become out of date. I apologize.
Finally, I have rashly concluded the book with my thoughts about how to apply the lessons of the human body’s past story to its future. I’ll spill the beans right now and summarize the core of my argument. We didn’t evolve to be healthy, but instead we were selected to have as many offspring as possible under diverse, challenging conditions. As a consequence, we never evolved to make rational choices about what to eat or how to exercise in conditions of abundance and comfort. What’s more, interactions between the bodies we inherited, the environments we create, and the decisions we sometimes make have set in motion an insidious feedback loop. We get sick from chronic diseases by doing what we evolved to do but under conditions for which our bodies are poorly adapted, and we then pass on those same conditions to our children, who also then get sick. If we wish to halt this vicious circle then we need to figure out how to respectfully and sensibly nudge, push, and sometimes oblige ourselves to eat foods that promote health and to be more physically active. That, too, is what we evolved to do.

Revue de presse

Monumental. The Story of the Human Body, by one of our leading experts, takes us on an epic voyage that reveals how the past six million years shaped every part of us - our heads, limbs, and even our metabolism. Through Lieberman's eyes, evolutionary history not only comes alive, it also becomes the means to understand, and ultimately influence, our body's future (Neil Shubin, author of Your Inner Fish)

No one understands the human body like Daniel Lieberman or tells its story more eloquently. He's found a tale inside our skin that's riveting, enlightening, and more than a little frightening (Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run)

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1749 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 434 pages
  • Pagination - ISBN de l'édition imprimée de référence : 0141399953
  • Editeur : Penguin (3 octobre 2013)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B00EK28WSQ
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Composition améliorée: Non activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5 2 commentaires client
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Très bon livre d'un auteur dont la renommée n'est plus à faire.

Très mauvais point pour Amazon, le livre est arrivé la couverture corné et taché d'encre bleu !!
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Un ouvrage de référence et une approche innovante de l'anthropologie de la santé s'appuyant sur l'histoire longue de l'évolution du corps humain.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) HASH(0x88b36198) étoiles sur 5 302 commentaires
130 internautes sur 136 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x888a4e4c) étoiles sur 5 Deep, detailed, wise, and very much worth while 28 août 2013
Par Dennis Littrell - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire d‘un membre du Club des Testeurs ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
The first part of the book is about human evolution from apes to Homo sapiens with a lot of interesting information about hominins (AKA hominids) and how we became bipedal and developed language and culture. The second part is about how the rise of agriculture and then the industrial revolution changed the health of our bodies for better and for worse. The third part is about how to cope with what Lieberman calls "mismatch diseases" and "dysevolution."

Lieberman's style is surprisingly readable considering that he has written scores of articles for peer-reviewed journals. There is some repetition (some of it on the same page!) but most of it is didactic because Lieberman is a teacher and he wants us to understand the great environmental and cultural changes that have taken place in the last 50,000 years or so since we became behaviorally modern humans. He is an expert on the human body, especially the head and the feet. Known as "the barefoot professor" at Harvard where he is the head of the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology, Lieberman is at the pinnacle of his profession and so what he writes about the human body and the environment is highly significant.

To give us as much information as possible, Lieberman begins in Part I with the Australopithecus apes and examines how they got around on two legs as they gradually evolved into the various archaic humans and finally into Homo sapiens. This early part of the book, about one-third of the total, gives the reader a good, contemporary understanding of the various early hominids such as Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalensis, Homo rudolfensis, etc. and how their bodies and habits differed from one another and from Homo sapiens. For example he notes how humans were better at throwing spears and rocks than apes and Neanderthals and how this ability (among other talents) helped humans to survive while the Neanderthal did not.

The beginning of Part II is about the discovery and growth of agriculture and animal husbandry and how that caused an explosion in human populations while bringing about new hardships and diseases. He calls this "The Fruits and Follies of Becoming Farmers." On page 181 he quotes Jared Diamond who claimed that farming was the "worse mistake in the history of the human race." Chapter 9 of Part II examines how the industrial revolution brought about new diseases, hardships, challenges and the beginning of hitherto undreamed of riches for humans and of course the real beginning of the massive pollution that is threatening the planet.

Part III is about chronic disease and other ailments of the modern world and how to cope in an environment radically different from the paleolithic one in which we evolved. It is here that Lieberman elucidates his concept of mismatch disease and dysevolution. The former refers to diseases of too much energy (over eating) and not enough physical activity that leads to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, etc. that is epidemic in developed countries. The latter (dyevolution) is the phenomenon by which we address the symptoms of these chronic ailments instead of the causes thereby perpetuating the diseases.

An important point that Lieberman makes in the introduction and repeats elsewhere is that "many human adaptations did not necessarily evolve to promote physical or mental well-being." They evolved to "promote relative reproductive success (fitness)." (p. 13) On page 167 he expresses it this way: "we sometimes get sick because natural selection favors fertility over health, meaning we didn't necessarily evolve to be healthy." (!) This means that the tendency to get diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes, and even Alzheimer's--diseases that do not reduce reproductive success until it becomes a moot point as we grow older--are mostly not selected against. The evolutionary mechanism that fashioned us simply turns a blind eye to diseases that mainly affect us after the prime reproductive years of our lives.

Another important point is that because humans evolved to be hunter-gatherers we are consequently optimally adapted to the way of life of a hunter-gatherer. This strongly suggests that (and is the main thrust of Lieberman's contention) we are NOT optimally adapted to either life in the big city or life on the farm. It may surprise some readers to learn that humans took a step backward in terms of easy living when we began to rely primarily on farming for subsistence. Lieberman refers to studies that show that not only did the instance of infectious disease increase as we became dependent on farming, but we actually got shorter in stature. We became more subject to a feast and famine way of life that led to more pain and suffering than hunter and gatherers experienced.

Lieberman dismisses several of the explanations for why we became bipedal, such as seeing over tall grasses, freeing our forelimbs for carrying things, etc. He believes that climate change from forested land to savannahs "spurred selection for bipedalism in order to improve early hominins' ability to acquire fallback foods...when fruit was not available." (See the section entitled "Why Be a Biped" in Chapter 2, "Understanding Apes.") "Fallback foods" are roots, tubers, animals like turtles, etc. The salient point is that being bipedal allowed the early apes to cover larger amounts of ground in search of food, whereas tree-dwelling apes could not because knuckle walking is not nearly as efficient as walking upright on two legs.

Among the wealth of insights that Lieberman makes about being human is this one about cooperation. "..[H]unter-gatherers are highly egalitarian and they place great stock in reciprocity.... In their "highly cooperative world...not sharing and being uncooperative can mean the difference between life and death. Group cooperation has probably been fundamental to the hunter-gatherer way of life for more than two million years." (pp. 75-76)

There's a lot of information about nutrition, physical activity and lifestyle choices beginning in Chapter 10 "The Vicious Circle of Too Much." On a point of much contention among nutritionists Lieberman concludes: "Insulin thus makes you fatter, regardless of whether the fat comes from eating carbohydrates or fat." (See the entire argument in the section "How and Why We Are Getting Fatter?")

As a means of fighting the mismatch diseases of obesity, type 2 diabetes, etc. Lieberman introduces in Chapter 13, "The Survival of the Fitter," the idea of "soft paternalism" by which he means governmental intervention to help discourage or tax unhealthy consumption of sodas and other highly processed junk foods. I'm not sure how I feel about this idea but I know many people would oppose it. What Lieberman does not present as a way to lessen human suffering is legal and assisted suicide.

One last quote: "If there is any one most useful lesson to learn from our species' rich and complex evolutionary history, it is that culture does not allow us to transcend our biology." (p. 366)

--Dennis Littrell, author of "Understanding Evolution and Ourselves"
63 internautes sur 68 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x88b1d594) étoiles sur 5 Solid Science and Strong Arguments 30 août 2013
Par Danno - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire d‘un membre du Club des Testeurs ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
'The Story of the Human Body' is a well-written book tailored for the curious nonscientist who wants to learn more about how our evolutionary history influences the sorts of ailments that we suffer from, particularly those that we often attribute to simple aging. This is a book primarily for the layman - if you've taken a good general life science course as a high school or college student you'll be able to survive the jargon just fine - and it's to author Daniel Lieberman's credit that he was able to write such an engaging, conversation book without overly simplifying the science behind his argument. The science itself is noncontroversial, and Lieberman does a great job distinguishing between the indisputable facts of the fossil record and what we can infer and assume based on our understanding of modern primitive peoples. Lieberman's central argument won't be new to anyone who's studied evolutionary theory and health sciences, but it's probably one that most people have not considered before.

I'm particularly impressed with the last chapter of the book. Most recent science books I've read that are written for a nonprofessional audience tend to either fall apart toward the end or have ridiculous wrapups that have little connection to the text that preceeded it. The last chapter of this book, on the other hand, reads like an extended essay examining the pragmatism of implementing our evolutionary knowledge to many of the potential solutions to improve our health. Truth be told, unless we're going to abandon civilization en masse and return to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, any changes we make to get closer to the lifestyles that our bodies evolved for are going to necessarily be incomplete. But they will be for the better. And while I don't agree with all of Lieberman's arguments, it's difficult to contradict his primary conclusions.

This isn't an overly easy read, and it isn't going to lead to an overnight improvement in your health, but it's well worth the effort you put into reading this book. Set aside a week or so to read it slowly.
59 internautes sur 67 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x888b2c78) étoiles sur 5 Our physiological & cultural evolution since Australopithecus 24 août 2013
Par William Garrison Jr. - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire d‘un membre du Club des Testeurs ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
"The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health, and Disease" by Daniel Lieberman (Oct. 2013), [approx. 370 pages of text, & another 60 pages of notes]. Okay, yes, this is a study of the evolution and development of us: mankind. The author doesn't start by hypothesizing how "man" evolved by some fish deciding to become a beachcomber and then standing upright. He avoids the "early" Darwin picture. Instead, the author fast-forwards his journey by picking up mankind's evolutionary traits "about six million years or so to a forest somewhere in Africa" (p.21).

But where is this journey going to take us? As the author postulates: "We didn't evolve to be healthy, but instead we were selected to have as many offspring as possible under diverse, challenging conditions. As a consequence, we never evolved to make rational choices about what to eat or how to exercise in conditions of abundance and comfort... If we wish to halt this vicious circle [of continuing to pass `bad' genes to our children] then we need to figure out how to respectfully and sensibly nudge, push, and sometimes oblige ourselves to eat foods that promote health...." (p. xii).

No, this is not some health-fanatic's book urging us to eating several wheel-barrels full of veggies every day. The author notes how we differ from our knuckle-dragging ancestors, such as we lost our earlier heavily powerful jaw muscles and bulky jaws as our forefathers began eating meats rather than subsisting totally on nuts, fruits, and tubers.

As the "Look Inside" feature was not available at the time of this review, following are the chapter contents, which really present a very good review of the innards of this book.

(Chpt. 1) Introduction: What are humans adapted for?

(Part I: Apes and Humans) [The author discusses the changes between: Australopiths, Homo habilis, H. rudolphensis, Homo erectus, H. heidelbergensis, H. floresiensis, H. neanderthalenis, and Modern humans.]

(2) Upstanding Apes: How we became bipeds.

(3 ) Much depends on dinner: How the Australopiths partly weaned us off fruit.

(4) The first hunter-gatherers: How nearly modern bodies evolved in the human genus.

(5) Energy in the Ice Age: How we evolved big brains along with large, fat, gradually growing bodies.

(6) A very cultured species: How modern humans colonized the world with a combination of brains plus brawn.

(Pat II: Farming and the Industrial Revolution.)
(7) Progress, mismatch, and dysevolution: The consequences-- good and bad --of having Paleolithic bodies in a post-Paleolithic world. [Cavities begin to appear in the time of the Neolithic farmer.]

(8) Paradise Lost?: The fruits and follies of becoming farmers. ["Humans have unleashed upon ourselves a frightening array of horrid diseases ... that we acquired by living in close contact with animals" (p. 201)]

(9) Modern Times, Modern Bodies: The paradox of human health in the Industrial Era.

(Part III: The Present, the Future)
(10) The Vicious Circle of Too Much: Why too much energy can make us sick.

(11) Disuse: Why we are losing it by not using it.

(12) The hidden dangers of novelty and comfort: Why everyday innovations can damage us.

(13) Survival of the Fitter: Can evolutionary logic help cultivate a better future for the human body?

This is not a book about human physiology: how blood flows throughout or body or how our kidneys work. But it does discuss how we picked up human parasites (lice, pin worms, etc.) and diseases (malaria, yaws, syphilis, etc.). This book isn't just about comparing the brain sizes of our early ancestors with ours; just a few factoids to make this topic interesting. This book is more about how human choices have impacted mankind's lifestyles, such as our increased consumption of sugar-loaded foods and how that impacts upon our insulin receptors, glucose molecules, glucose transporters and insulin-resistant stuff. And discussion about our increasing levels of "triglycerides from excess visceral fat." Yummy!

And the author reviews CT scans of Egyptian mummies to study the development of early LDL and HDL influences in some plaque-plugged veins of the Pharaohs.

The author concludes (in part): "If these is any one most useful lesson to learn from our species' rich and complex evolutionary history, it is that culture does not allow us to transcend our biology ... The human body's past was molded by the survival of the fitter, but your body's future depends on how you use it" (p. 367). This book is an easy, enjoyable read, and a wonderful, very informative look at our evolutionary development.
34 internautes sur 43 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x888b2b94) étoiles sur 5 Very interesting view point 5 novembre 2013
Par M. Hyman - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire d‘un membre du Club des Testeurs ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
This book takes an evolutionary look at the human body, using that as a way to cast light on a variety of modern ailments. The book starts by looking broadly at human evolution, and how we moved from Chimpanzees to the upright creatures we are today, tracing changes in bone structure, posture, brain size and diet among other issues. He then moves from that to look at various issue afflicting us today based on what he terms cultural evolution. In particular, what did the shift from hunter gatherer society to farm based society do, and then more importantly, what was the impact of post-industrial revolution life. In short, suppose you take a creature evolved to be an active hunter gatherer with a particular diet, and you sit the person in a chair for most of the day, reading a computer screen, embed them in a system surround by hormone disrupting chemicals and other goo, and feed them high sugar processed food... and voila, we have diabetes, cancer, obesity, insomnia and much more. The book describes why, from an evolutionary basis, we have all of these issues, and suggests as well cures... basically involving having a diet and exercise pattern more in keeping with our evolution.

Altogether, a very interesting book. At times it is a bit long or a tad repetitive, so i would have preferred if it could have been reduced a bit to be more succinct. But, you will learn a lot reading it.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x888b2c84) étoiles sur 5 Two books in one: an amazing, 5-star history of the human body, and a reasonable, 4-star, public/personal health programme 5 février 2014
Par Luca Bucchini - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Ever tried to explain to your kids what sets humans apart from chimps, except writing poetry & using iPhones? Curious myself, I have and have struggled to find sources. The first half of the book provides a convincing tale of what makes us - physically - humans, and likely reasons for becoming what we are, from the African savannah to the adverse consequences of farming. Great explanations that should be taught in schools (though some questions remain: for example, why baboons in the same environment did not evolve to be like us?). If you have any interest in evolution and humans, you need the first part of the book.

The second part presents an interesting and credible paradigm, interesting facts and sound proposals for personal and public health. However, perhaps because I am more familiar with the science and though the author is careful to insert caveats, I would say currently available evidence is sometimes stretched to fit a paradigm, and I had to say a couple of times: oh, no, not Rousseau again. I am aware that pygmies - among other partial hunter-gatherers - have lifestyles which is difficult not to admire. But, not being an anthropologist, the author made me wonder if disturbing facts about the lives of hunter-gatherers have been omitted. As for the prescriptions, in fact, I agree with the author and enthusiastically endorse some of his ideas; yet, my wife's comment that the second part could easily turn into a more sensible "China study", with a cadre of adept followers, is not off the mark. There is this bit of a crusading tone in this second part which convinced me to give it 4 stars only. Also worth reading but with one or two grains of salt.
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