One often ponders how their death will come about, taking consideration of all the possibilities of end of life, but statistics show that it’ll probably just be heart disease. Heart disease is often thought of as a modern problem–especially in America–a problem stemming from over-eating of the wrong foods, and a sedentary lifestyle. Turns out it’s always been a problem, as researchers discovered that ancient people had problems with clogged arteries, too.
Researchers in the field of mummy science (they don’t call it that, but I’m gonna take the liberty cuz it sounds awesome) found that “the condition [clogged arteries] was common across the ancient world, even among active hunter–gatherers with no access to junk food.” The use of the phrase ‘junk food’ is a little confusing here; they didn’t not have access to it, it didn’t exist. Well, really, by the definition “food of little or no nutritional value,” something like corn on the cob is ‘junk food,’ but let’s not complicate matters (too late for that, whoopsydaisey.)
The study came as a result of testing mummies from all over the world (which brings up the crazy thought that little civilizations popped up everywhere, so while “the Unangans of the Aleutian Islands” were eating “an exclusively marine diet,” the Egyptians were over in Egypt doing Egypt stuff like letting my people go or whatever.) When the mummies were walking around as humans being pre-mummies they had a wide range of diets, from forager-farmer to hunter-gatherer, obviously eating very different animals and vegetation due to their global spread. All cultures studied, from the Unangans to the Egyptians to the Peruvians to the Ancestral Puebloans were shown to have plaque-clogged arteries, some more than others. Surprisingly, especially to the “I’ll get sushi for lunch, it’s healthier” crowd, 60% of the marine-dieted Unangans had arterial issues, compared to 25% of the Pervuians (and have you ever had Peruvian food? It’s delicious! Try a lomo saltado.) Now I’m probably pretty bad at science, but I take issue with the fact that they give that 60% claim considering they only studied 5 Unangans. 3 out of 5 is technically 60%, but it’s not a big enough sample size to make any claims.
The researchers say that these findings don’t mean that we should all just give up on dieting, throwing up our hands because humanity is doomed to heart disease no matter what.
“Plaques seen in the mummies might have been caused by kidney disease or osteoporosis, rather than by atherosclerosis. ‘I still strongly believe that modern lifestyles have a lot to do with the development of atherosclerosis,’ he [researcher Michael Rosenfeld] says.
But, in contrast,
“Cardiovascular disease should not now be seen as simply a consequence of an unhealthy lifestyle. ‘We’ve oversold the ability to stop heart disease,’ [Rosenfeld] says. ‘We can slow it down, but to think we can prevent it is unrealistic.’”
Whelp, we’re all doomed. Resume the gluttony and sloth, we’re all going to hell anyway.
Image via Shutterstock