Introduction to Physical Anthropology
Quiz 16 :
Legacies of Human Evolutionary History and the Human Life Course
Culture refers to the customs, behavior and the life style of an individual. The study of an individual's culture allows the professional to understand more about their health and behavior. It has been concluded from various assumptions that humans are best studied with their respective culture as this may lead to a more accurate conclusions or theories. It cannot be assumed that humans can be studied only as 'cultural animals'. The human biology plays a very important role in understanding the behavior of humans. The culture in which an individual grew affects its physiology and psychology. The individuals with good prenatal and post natal care will live a healthy life in comparison to those who were born in unhygienic place. For example: A mother gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. Since, there has been gender bias in the society the girl during infancy is fed with bottle whereas the boy is being breast-fed. This will lead to differences in their biological health. This difference occurs because the mother's milk has certain antibodies that are very essential for immunity in the newly born. The girl child will not be as healthy as the boy due to the discrimination faced after the birth. In other culture where both the gender is equally treated, the individuals will be healthy.
The primary focus of international health and nutrition organizations, including world health organization (WHO) was on nutrition and infectious diseases. In today's times, the attention is primarily on over nutrition. In early times, the human preagricultural diet was low in fat and salt. It was rich in complex carbohydrates as well as fibers. Consumption of preagricultural diet leads to an active lifestyle. In this case the body fat is low and there is little or no obesity. This results in low incidences of diabetes, coronary artery disease (CAD) and stroke. In contrast, the diet consumed today in places, like the United States, are rich in fats and salts. The number of people in the world who were malnourished and underweight is much less than the number who were overweight by the year 2006. The adaptations in the diet were shaped in environments with time of its abundance or scarcity. The food consumed was good in nutrition and thus the nutritional deficiency diseases were very rare. About one million years ago, meat was an important part of the diet. Today's diet is incompatible with adaptations and consequences of that incompatibility included both starvations as well as obesity.
Aging is a natural phenomenon, in which an individual undergoes various phases of life including gestation, juvenile, maturity or reproductive, old age, and senescence. In humans, on an average, the gestation phase is smallest among the rest of the phases. It completes in about 276 days and is followed by the juvenile phase or infancy after the birth of an individual. The individual attains puberty and enters the next phase of life termed as the reproductive phase, in which an individual is capable of producing their offsprings. At the end of reproductive phase, females undergo some physiological changes such as menopause occurring at around the age 50. It leads to the next phase of life, the old age. Unlike females, the males have the potential of reproducing at the old age. Most of these life cycle stages are well marked by biological transition, such as those occurring at birth, puberty and old age. Senescence is the last or final stage followed in the life cycle of an individual. A person who is frail and debilitated at age 55 is regarded as old instead of the person who is vigorous and active at the age of 70. In the United States, the 'old age' is typically unwelcome and is regarded negatively. Under different conditions during the lifespan, the pleiotropic genes may have multiple effects, including the destruction of tissues in later life by the genes that enhanced the function of the immune system in early life. The diseases such as hypertension and atherosclerosis influence the phenomenon of aging. Damage to DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) may ultimately lead to aging of cells, functional systems of the body including the immune system.