Skip to comments.Caveman Diet to Stay Healthy
Posted on 03/02/2005 9:44:56 PM PST by Coleus
Diet-related chronic diseases represent the single largest cause of death and sickness in the United States and most Western countries. Yet while these diseases are epidemic in contemporary Westernized populations and typically afflict two-thirds of the adult population, they are rare or nonexistent in hunter-gatherers and other less Westernized cultures.
Why? There is an increasing awareness that the profound environmental changes, such as diet and other lifestyle conditions that began with the introduction of agriculture and animal husbandry (the care and breeding of domestic animals), occurred too recently for the human genome to adapt to.
Thus, universal characteristics of preagricultural human diets are helpful in understanding how the recent Western diet may subject modern populations to chronic disease: Before the development of farming and the domestication of livestock practices, dietary choices would have been necessarily limited to minimally processed wild plant and animal foods.
It is important to understand that over 70 percent of the American diet now consists of foods that were unavailable to preagricultrual humans, such as:
Although these foods dominate the typical American diet, they would have contributed little or none of the energy in the typical preagricultural human diet. And while scientists and lay people alike typically target a single dietary element as the cause of chronic disease, evidence has indicated that virtually all so-called diseases of civilization have many contributing dietary elements, as well as other environmental agents and genetic susceptibility that underlie the cause of the disease.
Consequently, these foods negatively affect proximate nutritional factors, which collectively underlie or worsen virtually all chronic diseases of civilization, including: glycemic load, fatty acid consumption, macronutrient composition, micronutrient density, acid-base balance and sodium-potassium ratio. Yet the ultimate factor underlying diseases of civilization is the collision of our ancient genome with new conditions of life in prosperous nations.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition February 2005;81(2): 341-354
Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century1,2
1 From the Department of Health and Exercise Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins (LC); the Departments of Radiology and Anthropology, Emory University, Atlanta (SBE); the Department of Medicine and UCSF/Moffitt General Clinical Research Center, University of California, San Francisco (AS); the Department of Food Science, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia (NM); the Department of Medicine, Lund University, Sweden (SL); the Department of Food Science, Lipid Chemistry and Molecular Biology Laboratory, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN (BAW); the Mid America Heart Institute, Cardiovascular Consultants, Kansas City, MO (JHO); and the Human Nutrition Unit, Department of Biochemistry, University of Sydney, Australia (JB-M)
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There is growing awareness that the profound changes in the environment (eg, in diet and other lifestyle conditions) that began with the introduction of agriculture and animal husbandry 10000 y ago occurred too recently on an evolutionary time scale for the human genome to adjust. In conjunction with this discordance between our ancient, genetically determined biology and the nutritional, cultural, and activity patterns of contemporary Western populations, many of the so-called diseases of civilization have emerged. In particular, food staples and food-processing procedures introduced during the Neolithic and Industrial Periods have fundamentally altered 7 crucial nutritional characteristics of ancestral hominin diets: 1) glycemic load, 2) fatty acid composition, 3) macronutrient composition, 4) micronutrient density, 5) acid-base balance, 6) sodium-potassium ratio, and 7) fiber content. The evolutionary collision of our ancient genome with the nutritional qualities of recently introduced foods may underlie many of the chronic diseases of Western civilization.
A Rumination on the Invention of Soup
(e-SoupSong 23: March 1, 2002)
"Soup! It's an unbelievable achievement--a matter of thought overreaching what was technologically possible at the time. I think of anthropologist Sally McBrearty's recent remark: 'The earliest Homo sapiens probably had the cognitive capability to invent Sputnik...but didn't yet have the history of invention or a need for those things.' But soup? Yes, he needed soup. He needed soup, so he imagined soup. He imagined soup, so he brought it into being, despite his lack of pots to cook it in. Soup is surely the ENIAC of early man--a transforming concept that changed his relationship to nature, increased his life choices, and created completely new needs and desires. One aeon he's a frugivore in the garden of eden...the next he's scavenging or hunting raw flesh and sucking bone marrow...then, almost suddenly, he's figured out an unbelievably complex process with tools to produce a hot meal. It's a gastronomic miracle, and it's art: multiple colors, multiple textures, multiple flavors--something created by man that had never existed before in the history of the world."