It’s tempting to think that “hey, this is it, we’re here” in terms of how we are evolving as a species. New research however, shows our bodies are still evolving.
There’s no doubt we look a lot different from our ancient ancestors, Australopithecus afarensis. Even from our own species, Homo Sapiens, we are far different today from how we looked and how our bodies functioned. These changes have to do with when we started farming and stopped moving around all the time. Our diets changed as we began eating more grains and meat. We also hung out more in one climate, causing changes in skin tone and even bone and muscle structure.
But there are three key changes that have happened to us over the past few thousand years that point to how we may even further evolve. Perhaps most interesting is how our bodies are adapting to eating more plant-based diets. It may just be that in a few hundred years, we may not even be able to digest meat! Beyond what we eat is who we choose to have babies with and the activities we do in our daily lives.
Three ways our bodies are changing
One: We’re way cool now
For centuries it was believed that our average body temperature was ideal at 98.6 Degrees fahrenheit or +37C. A coupe degrees higher and we are burning up with fever and sweating like mad. A few degrees cooler and we have hypothermia.
New research shows though, that our bodies are cooler than they used to be (not just because we all look cool.) Research has shown that since the start of the Industrial Revolution a couple hundred years ago, our average body temperature has dropped to 97.9 Degrees or +36.1C, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but it is. They believe that this is because of dietary change as well as not having to create more energy just to survive (like hunting and farming, which we do far less of now.)
As a result of having to do less to physcially survive, one Stanford professor shows, the inflammation in our bodies is less. Inflammation generates heat. So, less inflammation…well, you get it.
Two: Our genes are changing
No, not the jeans we wear, but the genes that make up our human bodies. Our environment has changed around us; living in big cities, flying, warmer climate and most significantly, our diets.
Perhaps most interesting is that our bodies seem to be moving to a preferred more plant-based diet. This has to do with a gene called FADS2. A group of scientists in 2016 found that a population they studied in India who ate a plant-based diet, were able to absorb more Omage-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. As a result they had far better brain health, something that omnivores don’t have. So, want a healthier brain? Eat more plants.
Three: Our bones are lighter
Not that it’s enough to help you win a marathon through better speed yet, but hey, who knows? What research has shown though, is that over the past 12,000 years, or basically since we started farming, our bones have become less dense. This, scientists suggest, is because we do less physical activity to survive. Diet they’ve found, is not part of this.
I mean, when was the last time you had to chase down a mastadon for your dinner? Or lug around huge logs to build a cabin? Scientists say we could be a s strong as an orangutan, but we just don’t challenge our bodies that way. Hey, go to the gym!
These are three interesting ways that our bodies are changing. Some scientists think our brains and therefore our heads, will get larger and others speculate that we will eventually have just four fingers on each hand.
Whatever happens, our bodies are changing and with advances in gene editing, we may soon be able to eliminate certain genetic diseases like Down’s Syndrome or epilepsy. Maybe the biggest take-away is that eating more plants is just plain better for us…and our planet.
More Insights: Check out this cool article on how yoga can help those with chronic pain.
Author: Alexa Hurst is a staff writer for Optimyz and Silver Magazine for HUM@Nmedia, the parent brand.