This blog is about the intersection between evolutionary biology and food. But also about practical applications, sustainable agriculture, and general tasty things.
These is some interesting discussion on Primal Wisdom on the Venus of Willendorf, a figurine from the Upper Paleolithic.
As this paper describes, the figurine is an uncannily accurate anatomically correct depiction of adiposity.
Don asserts that such figures are found throughout paleolithic sites in Europe, but I would view these in a different light
The Venus of Willendorf, a depiction of what modern scientists refer to as "obesity" is in the middle. The other two are less clear cut. They look like they have steatopygia, a genetic condition that has died out in modern humans but which may have once been more common.
Either way, there haven't been many dietary studies done on the skeletons found nearby, so while it may seem logical to assume they were eating mostly meat and fat that far north, who really knows? That's the reason the aforementioned paper is really one of the few reputable ones I could find on the subject, since such a figurine doesn't really tell us all that much.
However, I don't find it as surprising as others do. There is evidence from that period and region for material inequality and sedentism- for example, textiles that would have taken many people years to produce and would have been only worn by one person. Such a person may also have had a sedentary life with much food simply given to them.
It might also shock you to learn there are paleolithic skeletons with evidence of cavities, cancer, and other pathologies. The more I actually study bones, the less I am able to hew to the idea that the paleolithic was some kind of health utopia where everyone looked like the hot folks at your local gym.
Either way, we have a lot to learn about the paleolithic. I'd love to see isotope or starch grain analysis done on those bones if possible.
Does the Mediterranean Diet Even Exist? asks the NYtimes
The Mediterranean diet was always a composite. Spaniards love pork; Egyptians, as a rule, do not. In some regions, people made pesto with lard, not olive oil. “There is no such thing called the Mediterranean diet; there are Mediterranean diets,” says Rami Zurayk, an agriculture professor at the American University in Beirut. “They share some commonalities — there is a lot of fruits and vegetables, there is a lot of fresh produce in them, they are eaten in small dishes, there is less meat in them. These are common characteristics, but there are many different Mediterranean diets.”
The healthy versions of these diets do have one other thing in common: they are what the Italians called “cucina povera,” the “food of the poor.” In Ancel Keys’s day, Mediterraneans ate lentils instead of meat because they had no choice. “A lot of it is to do with poverty, not geography,” says Sami Zubaida, a leading scholar on food and culture.
Well, I agree that most low-meat diets around the world have more to do with poverty rather than health, that's not why some Greeks may have been eating lentils. The Greek Orthodox form of Christianity prescribes fasting for a little over half the year. Fasting involves eating not only less, but forgoing all animal products besides invertebrates like shellfish and insects (not many people take advantage of this). This letter to the editor from the journal of Public Health Nutrition asks why Ancel Keys didn't note that in his study.
When laymen break these fasts they don't eat lentils, that's for sure. It's a time to enjoy meat, dairy, and fish.
Between moving, work, school, and the very very sad state of my inbox, I haven't had much time to post.
I haven't had much time for anything, which is why I've been eating out quite a bit. I've had a bit of a sea change recently because I found out that my staple eating out food, Chipotle, isn't so great. It just reminds me that you have to question things you love after awhile or you'll get burned. First I found out via Diane from Balanced Bites that Chipotle uses soy oil. I hadn't looked at their site for awhile, so I guess I hadn't noticed. And since carnitas has SO MUCH natural fat WTF are they using soy oil for? It makes me very afraid that for "health" reasons they are skimming off the pork fat and replacing it with soy oil or something awful like that.
Also, it turns out the meat is sourced less carefully than I thought. A few years ago I heard some Chipotle executives speak at a conference and I thought they were pioneers at sourcing well, but according to Nate Appleman, their new spokesman "The chain uses local and organic ingredients when practical and meat from animals raised without antibiotics or added hormones."
What does "when practical" mean? And without antibiotics or added hormones is a sad low standard. It's like saying "we raise these animals without tormenting them with daily sessions of Justin Bieber's greatest hits."
Once I started getting disillusioned with Chipotle, I started thinking...why bother? NYC is full of nice restaurants using pastured lard, duck fat, and other good foods, but to be honest I don't live or work near those restaurants. So if Chipotle is not that great, why not patronize the local Thai joint that uses a mixture of olive and canola oil? I even found that after talking with the owner, I could get some dishes made with just coconut fat. Supporting a local business + delicious food = win. After moving I kind of went on a bonanza of doing this and honestly I feel great. Maybe it's because coconut is so dominant in many of the local cuisines (which include Thai and Filipino)? Maybe my gut is fully healed? Maybe conventional meat isn't so evil? (though I definitely want to get more local/grass-fed meat on the market). Either way, it's amazing to be eating out and having great digestion too. I'm really enjoying exploring all the cuisines of the world, which is a major benefit of living here. Whenever I can, I ask these local restaurants about what fat they use. If people ask, perhaps they'll change. The local Thai joint even brags about having wheat free food now. Trans fats are banned here, so the only ones I worry might be used are corn or safflower oil.
It brings me to the point that while I think lard/tallow/duck fat are great for me, they probably aren't a public health solution. If I went to a health conference and said restaurants should use them, I'd be laughed at. But high-oleic seed oils ARE definitely better for you and perhaps not even bad for you. They are possible to produce cheaply and are considered highly by almost every conventional standard. Imagine if they replaced soy and corn at restaurants and in schools? That would be a solution that would benefit everyone.
Instead we have public health programs that encourage things like eating low-fat and "moving more." I was somewhat amused when I read that Rush Limbaugh said Michelle Obama had gotten fat from eating ribs. It's quite clear that Michelle is not fat and I wonder if Rush got the right conclusion
Michelle My Belle, minus the husband, took the kids out to Vail on a ski vacation, and they were spotted eating and they were feasting on ribs, ribs that were 1,575 calories per serving with 141 grams of fat per serving. Now I'm sure some of you members of the new castrati: "This is typical of what you do Mr. Limbaugh, you take an isolated, once in a lifetime experience, and try to say that she's a hypocrite." She is a hypocrite. Leaders are supposed to be leaders. If we're supposed to go out and eat nothing -- if we're supposed to eat roots, and berries and tree bark and so show us how. And if it's supposed to make us fit, if it's supposed to make us healthier, show us how.
Hmm, I'd venture that she's healthy because she doesn't follow the government's advice- because she's eating ribs rather than tofu. Wouldn't that be hilarious. Kind of like how her kids don't attend government schools perhaps? Meanwhile, Rush is losing weight by restricting his calories, which may have caused a recent bout with chest pains. Maybe he should just eat ribs and stop worrying about calories?
Some of you asked if I could re-post my list of meat priorities I did on paleohacks. Here's how I chose my meat:
1. My first choice will always be grass-fed local meat from farmers I know.
2. Generic grass-fed beef or lamb, wild fish.
3. Organic beef or lamb because of highly favorable fat content.
4. Pastured poultry or pork.
5. Halal beef or lamb(or goat) is more likely to be grass-fed because it's often imported from New Zealand. In addition, some Hispanic restaurants import their meat, particularly Argentine places. New Zealand and Australia pasture most of their ruminants.
6. Natural beef or lamb. Natural is kind of vague, but it's better than nothing I guess.
7. Feedlot beef or lamb. Spends at least some of its life on pasture.
7. Natural chicken = really just a factory farmed mass of soy.
Things I won't eat: farmed salmon, CAFO pork
Notice I will eat a wide variety of meat. For me, not being hungry and being nourished is more important than anything. I'm not the kind of person who will order a plate of greens in the absence of perfect meat.
It's funny because when I eat out, the places that make me feel the worst are the healthy places. Ugh, I think hell is other people's idea of healthy. Like my office cafe, which stocks such healthy options as low-fat strawberry shortcake yogurt, those sugar-packed Odwalla smoothies, Special K, and Vitamin Water. I would definitely get really sick if I ate those things, but I feel awesome after going to the local Argentine place for a skirt steak and plantains. Another offender for me is BBQ places. At first I thought it was the meat that was bad for me, but then I realized that the sauces at most BBQ restaurants is full of total crap. Sugar + meat = bad.
Chris Masterjohn's review of The New Evolution Diet was nicer than mine. Luckily for Chris, he already knows about the wonders of butter and egg yolks. But what happens when a normal person reads a lipid-phobia ridden paleo book?
An Outside Magazine reporter tried to follow one such book, focusing on lean meats and non-starchy vegetables. Here is how he felt:
Such is the unfortunate plight of the faileo. Faileo dieters are rare because most succumb to extreme hunger in just a few days, similar to how cavemen who refused to eat fatty brain starved and died on the plains of Africa millions of years ago. It's actually a great example of evolution at work! Since Americans are so uneducated about evolution, perhaps faileo diet proponents are providing an important service.
But what about faileo diet proponents themselves? I've seen some hilarious meals on their plates like egg white omelettes with bacon bits. Hmm. I suspect most are eating a high fat diet without realizing it because they don't know much about meat.
But they sow their delusion everywhere. Like this Time piece where the reporter must have been talking to some serious faileos:
There's no doubt that something is way off about our collective health; rampant rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes make that self-evident. And there's no doubt that this is a direct result of our high-fat, high-calorie, sedentary lives.
Otherwise the piece is quite interesting. I like how they have well-respected physical anthropologist Dan Lieberman quoted alongside non-anthropologists who think they are qualified to preach on human evolution.
I think you won't find many anthropologists to speak on the matter because the truth is that for most of our history, the homo species were very rare. Few actual remains have been found and there are multiple theories on the role of food in our evolution. For example, Richard Wrangham believes tubers spurred our evolution into the big-brained upright-walking ape. Dan is from the persistence hunting school of thought. I've also blogged about the idea that marine foods were the catalyst. My own pet theory is that the high-fat reservoirs of the head and bones were the truly important foods for our evolution as a species, but I'll blog more about that later.
I don't think that theory will ever be in Time magazine because it competes with the "Man The Hunter" spiel that has been generally rejected by anthropology, but which lives on in pop culture. Chris mentions anthropologist Katherine Milton, who is a big proponent of the importance of plants in evolution. Despite being an anthropology expert with a Phd and many published papers, I doubt you'll ever see her in such an article because she doesn't fit into the macho man meaty story reporters want to tell.
As for the faileos, most will read their books, follow the diet, be miserable, and go back to eating SAD without ever knowing the value of foods like tallow or liver.
A well-meaning, but mistaken, commenter pointed me towards this paper: Hadza Scavenging: Implications for Plio/Pleistocene Hominid Subsistence. Notice it says "Implications for" not "An example of." The Hazda are not living fossils, though many anthropologists think their lifestyle might have some similarities with paleolithic humans.
But the paper is priceless for the actual descriptions of how Hazda people obtained meat. Often it was
1. Some people hear something or see vultures in the distance
2. They investigate
3. Turns out to be some predator consuming meat
4. They scare away the predator and hope something good is left
5. Often all the "premium cuts" are gone, but they crack open the brain and other bones and eat the fat from theses
In this way it challenges two silly assumptions
1. Foragers eat lots of lean meat... sorry! the lions took that before you got there! Looks like only marrow is left.
2. Male foragers obtain giraffe meat by valiantly hunting it down...sorry! Looks like a group of women and some kids scavenged that meat from a lion kill.
Note that Hazda have some modern technology, so paleolithic foragers would have been even more dependent on scavenging.
Hmm, I think I have some marrow bones in the fridge calling my name....
Have you seen Chris Masterjohn's latest post? Since his last posts have been rather serious, I thought he was seriously going to write a paleo book. ANd I thought...well that's quite a bit unlike the Chris I know and a little odd to boot. But seriously, it reminds me of all the reasons I'm not writing a book any time soon.
First, my unabashed love of many neolithic things. It brings to mind this comment I saw on a Meghan McArdle blog post about Nestle selling in the Amazon:
Makes me think of an account I read, I can't remember where, of some travelers or explorers in a very remote area on some island I think in Indonesia or somewhere like that. Anyway, the travelers met a local hunter gatherer and shared their dinner of white rice with him. They wrote that he cried because he had never tasted anything so delicious before. Imagine living on roots and leaves and then having people complain if you get something tastier.
I have a little book written by an actual archaeologist on prehistoric cookery. Needless to say, I have not made any of the bland and miserable-sounding recipes in that book.
I have no desire for asceticism for the sake of asceticism. Yes, I like to eat with evolution in mind, but unless someone comes up with a study that shows that my lovely neolithic goose rilettes are culpable for ruining health, I am unlikely to trade them for soggy sea weed and unseasoned muskrat stew.
It's been quite some time since I read this book, but it has the most honest title: Evolution of the Human Diet: The Known, The Unknown, and The Unknowable. Yes, there is much not known and even more that is unknowable. We know very basic things about the paleolithic diet, enough for a very basic framework. But not much more. We know their diets were high in protein from isotope studies, we know they ate nose to tail from butchery marks, we know they ate some plants from coprolites (though these studies have the worst methodology), and yeah...
There is SO much pop anthropology floating out there right now. Like the idea that cultures like the Inuit or the Kitavans are paleolithic relics. It shows just how far this movement has gone away from actual anthropology, which recognizes that the paleolithic is an era that is OVER. There are no more paleolithic cultures. There are some foragers left, but ALL of these groups have had significant contact with agriculturalists and many have also been agriculturalists at some point in history. This is called agricultural regression and its well-known in anthropology, but apparently has not taken hold of pop culture, though the Boston Globe had an article on SE Asia that featured it recently. So most modern foragers are NOT living fossils. Laughably, many of these cultures mistakenly held up as examples of the Stone Age are not even foragers. The Kitavans, for example, are horticulturalists. Horticulture is a form of agriculture, which differs in some very significant social, cultural, and environmental ways from agrarianism. It's shifting vs. settled, communalism vs. private property, hoe vs. plough, agrobiodiversity vs. monoculture. It's different from the agriculture we know and it's almost always accompanied by foraging, but some foraging does not a forager make.
I wish mainly in this post to demolish the arrogance that is pervading the "paleo" movement. It's rather extraordinary since in many ways the movement is a reaction to the arrogance of mainstream health authorities.
The whole Paleo approach has become very fashionable with various camps arguing over a number of things that we really can’t know about for sure. How do you answer the critics who say this approach romanticises a brutish existence?
Let me be a bit provocative here, purposely: I do not care about my ancestors. They’re all dead!
An evolutionary approach is only interesting if it helps us, people of today, people that are still alive. In that sense, I am not interested in a so called “truth”, but in what we can experience today, and how understanding our past may help us improve our present lives. I am not living a caveman lifestyle, I’m sorry. I am a man of today, I’m in the here and now. I am not “sprinting and lifting heavy things” thinking that I am mimicking a caveman lifestyle. That is BULLSHIT. I am sprinting and lifting heavy things (among many other things I train) in order to be ready to do so in today’s world when the need arises. It’s about real-life preparedness and not role playing. MovNat is about connecting to reality, not to a reality that does not exist anymore.
What involves the exposure of government health conspiracies, the realization that exercise doesn't make you thin, restricting calories doesn't work very well, and a take-down of low-fat diet foods?
If you are thinking Good Calories, Bad Calories you are right, but there is another community that accepts these things that's not really on the low-carb/paleo radar.
Because it's the fat acceptance community, sometimes known as Health At Every Size. Yes, you read that right. I bought Linda Bacon's book Health at Every Size because I was curious about the fat acceptance community's views. I heard about the movement because yes, I googled my own name, which I share minus one letter with fat acceptance blogger (among other things) Melissa McEwAn.
Now that NYC Paleo is doing beginner's workshops, I'll be fielding more questions than ever and dealing face-to-face with people interested in the diet. Besides that, I'm interested in overall compassionate approaches to human problems.
Some of those people inevitably will be interested in weight loss. Which is interesting for me because that's not how I got into evolutionary eating. I was really sick and looking to feel better. I was also pretty chubby, but that wasn't a huge priority for me.
Three years later I weigh thirty pounds less. But that's not why I'm happy with paleo. I'm happy with paleo because I don't have chronic pain, my digestion is good, my blood sugar is stable, and my inflammatory markers are low. For me, paleo is an overall health strategy, not a weight-loss gimmick. I think this is the philosophy of most successful long-term paleo dieters.
I would like the paleo community be about overall health and not about weight. So many skinny sedentary computer nerds have told me that they are glad they don't have to do anything like paleo because they aren't "fat."
I wonder if they'd feel this way if I told them that studies show that "overweight" people who are in shape have death rates lower than skinny unfit people and actually quite similar to "normal" fit people? In fact, some "fat" people are metabolically healthy, while some "skinny fat" people aren't. Appearances aren't everything.
What if paleo was the opposite of the vegan low fat movement which shames people into eating nutritionally bankrupt foods by calling them "fatties" in rude books like Skinny Bitch? Apparently they are so busy thinking themselves so compassionate to animals that they forgot about people.
The more I study weight the more I think we need this approach. Why do people weigh more than they used to? Why do people find it so hard to loose weight? We ain't in the paleolithic anymore and this is more complex than people not exercising enough or eating too much. Epigenetics, gut flora, pollution, and the complexity of metabolic set-points messed up early in life or with yo-yo dieting make weight a difficult issue.
And in the end…are we sure we know how much people in the paleolithic weighed? Pictures of tribal women show many with modestly round bellies. Is not being svelte a health risk? Consider that, on average, "overweight" people live longer than "normal" weight people. A study of angiograms shouldn't that for every 11 pound increase in weight there was an associated 10-40 lower chance of atherosclerosis.
I don't want people setting unrealistic goals. When people come up to me and tell me they are having a tough time meeting their weight goals on paleo, I look at them and think how great they look. They can run for miles, have glowing skin, feel awesome, and certainly aren't "obese". I tell them that it might be worth trying to adjust their diet, but that they should think about having more health-based goals like higher energy and vitamin-D levels.
I think emphasis on weight often leads people to nutritionally bankrupt diets like low-fat veganism, but also to excessive calorie restriction in general. This can be dangerous for most Americans, who are already pretty low in many nutrients. Lots of the studies on weight loss are also as flawed as those that show how saturated fat is evil. The evidence is that just losing weight doesn't fix many of the problems that doctors say it does.
So how does this effect my approach to paleo? What if you gave me 30 women who wanted to get healthier? They weigh more than they want to, but most importantly they have high inflammation, autoimmune conditions, and impaired insulin sensitivity.
The first step I recommend is ditching processed foods and adding nutrient-rich foods into their diet. I think calorie restriction should come only after people are nourished. And most Americans, even if they look "over nourished," are vitamin, essential fatty acid, and mineral deficient.
It's possible that many of the studies cited in this book that show how bad calorie restriction can be have been done mostly on malnourished individuals. Because studies done on nutrient-emphasizing diets like intermittent fasting and CRON (link) show exactly the opposite.
Then I would target specific goals like improving insulin sensitivity and decreasing inflammation. I would do this by altering the quality of their diet, not the quantity. Once their systems aren't completely deranged I would recommend occasional intermittent fasting.
So about this book. There is a lot of useful information, particularly about the exercise myth and whether being "overweight" is really unhealthy. Some might find her self-esteem building chapters useful. But I find her dietary recommendations to be problematic. She basically says enjoy your food, don't feel guilty, but increase fiber intake dramatically and lower your meat/saturated fat intake. First part is good, but the rest is what happens when you drink only half the government-sponsored health recommendation Kool-Aid.
She says fiber is what makes you feel full and will prevent digestive difficulties. Which actually flies in the face of what scientists now know about digestion. It's not the fiber per-se that matters, but the bacteria in the gut. Where is the recommendation for probiotics? It's not there despite a few paragraphs on how "fat" people have different gut flora. Instead she recommends things like whole-grain toast. Maybe she hasn't seen the evidence that gluten is harmful for everyone because of its inflammatory effects. Not to mention the fact that wheat basically strips minerals from women's bodies.
As for fat it seems odd that she says the government scare-mongering about OMGFATPEOPLERUININGTHECOUNTRY is wrong, but their fat recommendations are right…hmmm. At one point she says weight and hunger are more complex than just leptin and then at another she warns that high-fat diets can reduce leptin. That study she cites used a low-carb diet of WHOLE WHEAT BREAD, commercial mayo (vegetable oil redux), margarine, and canola oil. She also fails to mention that high leptin levels might be bad.
The paleo diet gets a shoutout when she mentions that the wild game meat our paleolithic ancestors ate was different, but uses that fact to say eat less meat instead of eating the meat that's available that IS like what our ancestors ate. In fact, she doesn't mention the nutritional differences between wild/grass-fed meat/fish and factory-farmed crap at all!
I also agree the exercise is not the key to losing weight, particularly chronic cardio, which is unfortunately the method that most people use. I know lots of people who have lost weight with chronic cardio and none of them have kept it off. The benefits of exercise are far beyond weight loss, but it's important to do something that's a source of fun activity rather than a slog. I remember getting up at 5:30 AM as a freshman in college to run the treadmill. My weight never budged and I felt stressed and miserable all the time.
I agree with her that hate-mongering against "fat" people is bad. It leads to justification for ineffective government problems as well as dehumanization of human beings. She also exposes the tragic facts of bariatric surgery, a practice that kills people (7.5% of men who have the procedure!) or leaves them malnourished for life. It typifies the approach to weight in this country: malnourishment is AOK as long as you lose weight! I think in the future bariatric surgery will be considered similar to corsets and foot-binding.
I also don't like the idea of food consumption being a moral issue. I don't think some foods are good and others evil. Even high-fructose corn syrup is not evil. Inanimate objects cannot be evil. Demonizing, guilting, and self-punishment should not be part of a rational paleo diet. Some foods ARE bad for you. You should educate yourself about them and avoid them as best as you can. You should acknowledge that it will be hard and might take time to learn how to exclude things like gluten and processed sugar. In the end, you shouldn't be afraid to love food and enjoy it often. Luckily, unlike the low-fat diet, the paleo diet actually includes foods that are delicious and not just as "sometimes foods."
But according to some, the paleo diet excludes "normal" food. I guess it depends on your perspective, but in my view the paleo perspective is refreshing in that it's about foods, not numbers. There has also been a collective quashing on things that might lead to disordered eating like fat-restriction or quasi-religious food guidelines. One of the only problems I see is that some people try fasting before their bodies might be ready... and then they feel sick and post about it on paleohacks. Fasting should never make you feel unwell.
When I think about how we treat people who aren't thin, I think of my grandmother who is healthy at over 90 despite not being thin according to government guidelines (by the way, the BMI system is pretty messed up). Would she feel comfortable at a paleo meetup? This book was part of a study where they took one group of "overweight" women and had them read a copy of this book and have consultations with the author. The other group followed conventional diet advice. The HAES women showed decreases in bad cholesterol, lower blood pressure, higher activity levels, and greater self-esteem.
What if a paleo-type program were included in that study? I think we'd do even better. Most paleo books are positive about health and don't spend much or any time on emphasizing weight loss. I think paleo wins hands down because it targets actual health problems (and let's be honest, most people who follow is DO lose weight). Linda Bacon falls into exactly the trap of conventional diet gurus when she doesn't look outside the box and see that specific foods might be more important than macro-nutrient ratios or calories.
As a important caveat, there are countless other health issues brought on by carrying excess weight that are not always metabolic (i.e. joint problems due to excess load, skin infections, etc.). Thus, it is often argued that despite being metabolically-healthy these individuals may still be far from optimal health.
My own opinion is that overemphasis on weight is a problem and that many people can't lose weight very easily, but that there really are real disadvantages associated with weight that have nothing to do with stigma. Unfortunately, weight is also more complex than "eat less, move more." In fact, it's even more complex than just "eat paleo, lose weight." YES, there are long-term paleo dieters that are "fat" by BMI standards. Their health has improved, but it's possible they might never be "thin." This new Taubes interview discusses how metabolic damage might not be completely reversible. It might be similar to crooked teeth. Yes, such problems are not present in societies eating traditional diets, but once they are there they are there. You could go 100% paleo for years and it's not going to make your teeth straight.
I think the obesity set point posts on Whole Health Source are a great starting point for exploring this topic. I'm not saying to give up. I'm saying that this is hard stuff and it's more productive to focus on holistic health. There are too many women and men out there waiting to lose weight to buy nice clothes or to enjoy life. Enjoy life now, eat some paleo foods, and enjoy the overall benefits of being outside.
And I ain't talking a baked potato here. I'm talking cupcake/fried crap/PUFA/sugar binge time. I know about this from experience unfortunately, but also from seeing plenty of people go down the road to a paleo diet that's unsustainable. Here are the warning signs:
Sometimes low-fat blogs, like Dr. Fuhrman's, publish some interesting posts. Like this one on low thyroid activity being tied to longevity. He cites several studies like "Low serum free triiodothyronine levels mark familial longevity." Basically they show that in families with a large amount of unusually-long lived individuals, average TSH is higher.
But wait...don't we want to boost our metabolism, lose weight quick, OMG111!!!? Depends on your goals perhaps. If the only problem you have with a underactive thyroid is more weight than you would like, perhaps it's not worth altering.
Looking at my family tree, average age of death for women even in the 1700s was 70. Currently I have several nonagenarian (over 90) female relatives. My maternal grandmother at over 90 has zero health problems. She's never been a skinny gym rat, but she's always walked places as much as possible. I remember my mother always giving her a hard time for not eating breakfast and she has confessed to me that she sometimes eats a chocolate bar in place of a meal. Growing up during the depression, her diet did include organ meats and raw dairy. I suspect that genetics accounts for some of my grandmother's health, but early childhood nutrition is very important too. As far as I can tell that's what separates the healthy people in my family from those who struggle with health problems.