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If you got sick, you probably wouldn't go to an evolutionary biologist to get treated. But Daniel Lieberman, professor of evolutionary biology at Harvard University, says that his field can help you understand why you got sick, and make you more aware of healthy and harmful behaviors.
He joins Fresh Air's Terry Gross to talk about some of the noninfectious diseases that may result from our Paleolithic bodies not being well-adapted to modern conditions. It's a list of ailments big and small, including acid reflux, acne, anxiety, asthma, certain cancers, depression, Type 2 diabetes, flat feet, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, lower back pain and osteoporosis. In his new book, The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease, Lieberman traces these troubles back to their origins
On "mismatch diseases"
Many of the illnesses that we confront today are what evolutionary biologists called "mismatch diseases": … Diseases that occur because our bodies are poorly or inadequately adapted to environments in which we now live. An example would be eating large amounts of sugar or being very physically inactive leads to problems like diabetes or heart disease that then make us sick. So mismatched diseases are diseases that are more modern in the sense that they're more prevalent, or even novel or more severe, because we don't live in the way in which our bodies are adapted.
Written By: NPR – Fresh Air
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