Health Check - Paleofantasy
Should we be emulating the diet of our cavemen ancestors? Could techiques in the perfume industry help malaria scientists and new research concludes humans can use echolocation.
Many people extol the virtues of a Palaeolithic diet - eating more like our ancestors did: so no dairy, no processed foods and - in some versions of the diet - not even lentils or beans are allowed. The idea is that we are biologically much better suited to the kind of hunter-gatherer diet eaten by humans between 10,000 and 250 million years ago; before there was any agriculture. It is true that a diet without processed foods is healthier, but Marlene Zuk, who is an evolutionary biologist at the University of Minnesota, writes in her new book Paleofantasy that we are not biologically identical to Stone Age humans and that diet has been an important part of our recent evolution. Thus it does not make sense to emulate the diets of cavemen. Microencapsulated malaria insecticides Mosquito nets on beds have played a crucial role in the fight against malaria. Nets treated with insecticides that kill mosquitoes are even more effective, but they wear off quickly, leaving people vulnerable to getting bitten once again. Now scientists are taking tips from the perfume industry to make insecticides last longer. They are trying it out in Tanzania, where a recent survey found that overall 18 per cent of children have malaria parasites; with rates in rural areas triple those in the cities. The BBC’s reporter in Tanzania Tulanana Bohela has been to see the latest experiments using this new technique. Echolocation Bats famously use echolocation to avoid flying into things, working out where objects are by emitting sounds and then detecting the echo that comes back. Now new research provides conclusive evidence that blind and sighted people are also able to use these techniques. Dr Daniel Rowan, lecturer in Audiology at the University of Southampton tells Health Check about his findings. Hoax cave painting in the British Museum by self-proclaimed art terrorist Banksy. Credit: Press Association Archive