Uncivilised Genes by Gustav Milne – Family Tree book review
Uncivilised Genes: Human Evolution and the Urban Paradox is a hugely revealing book that explores how understanding our ‘caveman biology’ can help humans build a healthier urban future, at a period in history when we are seeing an epidemic of lifestyle diseases, such as obesity, coronary problems and diabetes.
Author Gustav Milne is a leading archaeologist and academic specialising in urban archaeology. Currently, he leads the national community-based coastal archaeology project hosted by the Museum of London Archaeology and featured in the Channel 4 series, Britain at Low Tide, so he speaks knowledgeably and engagingly about the subject. He notes that the problem with our modern society is that it continues to change at remarkable speed – and yet anatomically and genetically we remain much as our ancestors were thousands of years ago.
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Although we can’t change our genes, he argues, we can alter our modern urban lifestyles, our buildings, offices and even our town plans to better suit our biology.
Eating like a hunter-gatherer, with our food shaped by the seasons, being active, having pets and changing our habitats to make them more natural – with access to green outdoor spaces and light – and sociable, would not only be uplifting psychologically but also benefit our ancient immune system, says the author. Building a world that better fits our genetic makeup – taking lessons from our prehistoric past – is the key to a healthier future within the urban environments that many of us now live in.
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This fascinating volume will certainly make you think about the lives of your ancient ancestors and give you food for thought about your own well-being and the routes Western society should be taking to aid our future survival.