Staff Pick: What's The Human Body Good For?

Jun 6, 2019

A lot of people these days are wondering how they should eat, how they should exericse, how they should use their bodies. To answer those questions, it helps to toss in another one: What is the human body adapted for? Today's pick comes from producer Benjamin Bombard.

Like every other organism on the planet, humans evolved over thousands of years to survive and thrive under rather specific circumstances. But what exactly is the human body adapted for? The evolutionary biologist Daniel Lieberman poses and attempts to answer that question in a new book. Lieberman says the human body is in many ways a Stone Age creation, better suited to the demands of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle than to 9-to-5 office work. He joins us to explore the story of the human body.

Daniel Lieberman is a professor of human evolutionary biology and the Edwin M. Lerner II Professor of Biological Science at Harvard University. He has written more than a hundred articles, many of which have appeared in the journals Nature and Science. His new book is called The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease [Indie bookstores|Amazon|Audible].

Here's what producer Benjamin Bombard has to say about the episode:

Like a lot of people, I struggle with body image issues, and I have for a long time. It can be so difficult to know how we should eat, how we should exercise, how we should use our bodies. So, I was excited when Doug told us a few years ago that he wanted to do a series about new ideas on health and fitness. A number of shows I've produced for that series have literally changed my life. It kind of all began with Daniel Lieberman. He's an evolutionary biologist at Harvard, and he studies what the human body is adapted for and why that matters. They're complicated ideas, but Dr. Lieberman talks about them with enthusiasm and clarity, two qualities that we're always looking for in a guest.