[Update 2/11/10: They now have up a professionally translated English version on the Der Spiegel International site. I’m leaving this one up because it’s funny and the comments are funny.]
Here’s the original German version for those who can read it. What follows is the English translation, courtesy of Yoda Translation Services. Just kidding. Art ran it through the Google engine. Also, the full size images can be seen at the German version of the article. The author, Philip Bethge, holds a PhD in biology.
By Philip Bethge
In the United States created a subculture of modern stone-age people. The paleo-fans take an example from the ancestors: They eat lots of meat, swimming in ice water and barefoot sprint.
John Durant receives the hunters and gatherers of New York once a month in his apartment on the Upper East Side. Homemade beef jerky, it will exist. Gathered around the hearth, you replace recipes for carpaccio with vegetables or wild boar roast.
The following day, the hosts will be happy to turn out a few meals. For the ancestors did not have until the next hunting success starve? Instead of eating, rather Durant sprinting barefoot across the Brooklyn Bridge, or he is doing now in the winter, at Coney Iceland in the "Polar Bear Swim" in the icy Atlantic.
The 26-year-old and his colleagues of the New York group for "Evolutionary Fitness" (EF) are part of a growing subculture that health and happiness in the lives of their Paleolithic ancestors, is looking for. "Hunter-gatherers" or "Palaos" they call themselves, a sworn Clan modern Stone Age people. Their creed: It is best adapted to the body of that life which led to tens of thousands of years before humans.
Plenty of meat is part of the diet of Wildbeuter of the 21 Century. It there is climbing, practice sprints and jumps as if they were still on the lookout for marauding mammoths. Some even regard the donations as part of their primitive existence: Finally, the forefathers had shed much blood in battle with the saber-toothed tiger.
Hunting and gathering in the rhythm of the seasons
"What did the people then eat, how they have moved and what does that mean for us today?" Durant says. The answers he finds are quite obvious. The human genes are optimized for a life of wandering, for a life of hunting and gathering in the rhythm of the seasons.
"The life of our ancestors was a perpetual Campingtrip," says Arthur De Vany, "but of course without camping stoves and energy bars." The emeritus professor of economics is a kind of pioneer of the movement. "It’s not about glorifying the Stone Age people," he says. But let the evolution to conclusions that would promise a healthier and happier life.
De Vany lives with his wife, Carmela, in a small town named Washington in the Utah desert. The view from his living room overlooks the green of a golf course. "In the morning I often point a bit there, sprint back and forth," says the 72-year-old. For 25 years he followed his program. His body is that of a toned mid-forties, 185 centimeters tall and 95 pounds, "with a body fat percentage of eight percent." De Vany suggests a golf ball over 250 yards. And to demand his muscles are so right, he pulls his SUV on the rope had time on his driveway.
Only twice per week, the Steinzeitfan trained, each for less than an hour. Chronic stress, such as jogging it deems harmful. "Can you imagine how hard it is to break down a mammoth with a stone?" Says the fitness guru. The key to happiness lies in a short but stiff body work.
Diet also follows strict rules: paleo-diet may only be called, was the ancestor of what is already in the stone knife. Cereal? The presence of Fred Flintstone’s a terror. Spaghetti? "A plate full of sugar," says De Vany. Carbohydrates in any form, are regarded by him as the devil’s work. Potatoes, chocolate, pizza, bread, but also milk, cheese and refined oils despise the EF fans. Instead, there are a lot of game meat and fish, fresh vegetables, seeds and fruits.
Ice-cold nights – without clothes
"We try to eat only that which existed before the invention of agriculture," says De Vany. Variation is the law in doing so: Sometimes proffers Carmela roast turkey with bacon for breakfast, sometimes there is a half-avocado.
The life of the ancestors, the professor has an amazingly good idea. "I admire their skills and their severity," he marvels. "They were able to survive cold nights with no clothes."
De Vany is a romantic. And yet many researchers acknowledge one of his theses. The medical examiner Lynda Frassetto at the University of California at San Francisco in healthy volunteers sat around for only ten days a paleo-diet of lean meat, fruits, vegetables and nuts. Everything else was forbidden. The blood pressure of the test subjects improved with decreased insulin levels.
The U.S. researcher Loren Cordain calls "holistic nutrition". For "average Steinzeitkost" he calculated, the lay fat and protein accounts for between 60 and 80 percent. Today’s high-carbohydrate diet does not fit the genetic makeup of humans and had reason for lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.
Healthy Stone Age people were much stronger and fitter than we are today, "says anthropologist John Shea of the U.S.. From tiny cracks in bones long since faded hunter-gatherers can read the research, how it was with the ancestors: "Their activity was highly variable, in search of food they are far gone, they have probably only driven once a week."
Although the average life expectancy was low. But this was not due to infirmity, but infections, accidents and a high infant mortality.
Life in the wilderness makes you look slim
So is it really sensible to indulge in the animalistic past? Richard Nikoley from San Jose, California is convinced. "Free The Animal" is his webpage. His own inner beast he has been let off the leash. Three years ago, he weighed over 100 kilograms. Today there are almost 30 less. "As strong as never before in my life," feels the 49-year-old.
Especially fond of shows Nikoley barbrüstig now. In agony, he is not alarmed. "Do not hunt animals with a full stomach," he is. 30 hours for the business man has therefore been fasted until the following training. Only after he ate. His finding: "I’ve never had such a clear head."
Or the New York Durant: He recently formed a friendship with a Vorturner the motion. Erwan Le Corre, 38, is a sort of Stone Age undead. While the Frenchman has athletic shorts instead of a loincloth. His body, however, dares to fight with the means to woolly.
Le Corres Fitness Club is the wilderness. In his courses, the clientele crawling on all fours through the undergrowth, playing with stones thrown off, as big as bowling balls, or runs – mostly naked – through the jungle. "It was great," Durant says on a recent visit to the training camp of the master in Mexico, "we climbed up trees, we have learned how to jump properly, and we dragged the tree trunks."
How boring now seems the existence of the average soft modern times. "We live like laboratory rats, without threats, fully air conditioned and with predictable food supply," complains De Vany. Although the cage rodents live three times longer than the average of its wild species. But at what price?
"There is an experiment in which they hang a rat in a wire and see how long they can hold on," says De Vany. "The laboratory rat plops to the ground after a short time."
And the wild rat? "The pull up and disappears."
[I really thank Art De Vany for going to the trouble to put me in touch with Dr. Philip Bethge and thanks to Philip for taking the time and asking so many good questions.]
Update: I just received an email from Philip with a PDF of the print edition that hit news stands on Monday, February 8.