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Relevance of Evolution to Our Modern Diet

Modern Diet vs. Stone Age Eating Habits

Paleolithic Hunter Gatherer Diet Not a Realistic Option

The Stone Age or Hunter Gatherer type of eating plan might well be used as a starting point for designing a diet for optimum nutrition and health. After all, basic human genetics have changed relatively little in the past 40,000 years, which means (say the experts) that our nutritional requirements remain remarkably similar to those which applied to stone age humans living before the introduction of agriculture. That said, there is little point in trying to copy a small part of an extinct lifestyle, especially as it is neither feasible nor economically desirable for everyone to eat wild game, fruits and vegetables.

It’s worth remembering that we are now utterly dependent upon cereal grains for survival, as they provide 55 percent of the food energy and 50 percent of the dietary protein consumed by humans

Lessons of the Hunter Gatherer Diet

For a brief account of how our modern Western diet stacks up, here is what some experts say about how we can learn from our ancestors dietary habits.

1. Animal based diets can be healthy. Judging by the typical Paleolithic diet, humans can benefit from high protein animal-based diets in many respects, including vitamin, minerals, and fatty acid profiles. The view that animal-based foods are rather unhealthy needs to be changed.

2. The extent of our modern day consumption of carbohydrates is mistaken. Modern dietary guidelines fail to point out the importance of choosing low-GI carbs in preference to high GI carbohydrate.

3. Our current dietary guidelines lack advice about which types of fats should be consumed. They fail to distinguish adequately between saturated and non-saturated fats, and fail to highlight the differences between essential and non-essential fatty acids and stipulate appropriate intakes. For example, we eat too many Omega-6 fats and not enough Omega-3 fats. The Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio in typical western diets is about 12:1, whereas research suggests a much lower ratio in the order of 3-4:1. High Omega-6/Omega-3 ratios are associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and tend to worsen many inflammatory disease responses.

4. It is not possible to assess the nutritional or health benefits of a diet, and (eg) its effects on the human body, without examining the physical lifestyle of the people concerned. Thus, when comparing the benefits of a hunter gatherer or Stone Age diet with our modern diet, the comparison should also include reference to levels of physical exercise.

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