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The Evolution of Diet

samzenpus posted about three weeks ago | from the eat-like-your-ancestors dept.

Science 281

An anonymous reader writes Here's a story from National Geographic that looks at the historical diets of people from around the world and what that diet might look like in the future. From the article: "So far studies of foragers like the Tsimane, Arctic Inuit, and Hadza have found that these peoples traditionally didn't develop high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, or cardiovascular disease. 'A lot of people believe there is a discordance between what we eat today and what our ancestors evolved to eat,' says paleoanthropologist Peter Ungar of the University of Arkansas. The notion that we're trapped in Stone Age bodies in a fast-food world is driving the current craze for Paleolithic diets. The popularity of these so-called caveman or Stone Age diets is based on the idea that modern humans evolved to eat the way hunter-gatherers did during the Paleolithic—the period from about 2.6 million years ago to the start of the agricultural revolution—and that our genes haven't had enough time to adapt to farmed foods."

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The best diet (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752217)

drinking lots and lots of nigger cum Propz to GNAA for helping me lead a healthier life!

Re:The best diet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752711)

How you choose to live your life is none of our business. We wish you'd keep it that way.

Re:The best diet (5, Interesting)

sillybilly (668960) | about three weeks ago | (#47753331)

I think the most important aspect of caveman diet was the periods of thin, unsaturated blood of high dissolving power, called periods of starvation, once in a while, as far as cardiovascular disease goes. So instead of hitting the gym and starving your blood supply from nutrients by exercising too much, and wearing your body down with it, exercise only until you build and tone muscle without dragging the body through the starved mode, and for the starved mode artery cleaning simply starve, like don't eat nothing for 2 days at a time, once every 2 months or so. It's not that difficult or complicated, and it's cheaper than all that cardiovascular medication. In fact it's better if you do it monthly, or weekly, or daily. For instance, for a long time I had a habit of eating once a day, eating a whole lot, then not eating again for a whole day, and that allows for periods of blood thinness, as opposed to the habits of potato chip snackers, where it's not really the trans fat that kills - as even mother's milk has trans fat - but the constant snacking and keeping the blood saturated, to where temporary amorphous fat deposits get a chance to crystallize and become tough biofilm with the bacteria in blood, so they can no longer be redissolved. In fact garlic or heavy antibiotics might, might be able to break up biofilms but then you still have the relatively toughly crystallized cholesterol soap + fat cargo deposits, for which a good chest pounding or muscle pounding boxing match could loosen up. The questions are as simple as solubility in blood, biofilms, and mechanical shaking. Maybe they'll invent an ultrasound catheter they can stick down the arteries into a beating heart, and shake loose the crud, without an open heart surgery. But the issues are large fragments getting loose in the fat aorta, and getting stuck in the hair thin blood vessels of the brain and leg muscles, where the blood plumbing conduits are not so large.
Also, getting yourself very drunk to near death alcohol levels might help solubilize some of the cholesterol fat deposits easier during periods of starvation, but that has downsides to it too.

craze? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752277)

What a handful of trust fund rebels indulge is a "craze?" NPR-bait — "urban foragers" and other assorted yippie nonsense.

Foodies are what emerge when a people suffer too much wealth and too much peace for too long.

ha! Inuit diet. Hazda diet. (4, Interesting)

iggymanz (596061) | about three weeks ago | (#47752279)

Inuit have lifespan 12 to 15 years shorter than average Canadians. Hazda mean life expectancy is 65 years. Let's cut the bullshit already, live like those people and flop over dead before your time

Re:ha! Inuit diet. Hazda diet. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752335)

Inuit in modern Canada eat less walrus and drink more beer than Inuit from three centuries ago.

Re:ha! Inuit diet. Hazda diet. (2)

iggymanz (596061) | about three weeks ago | (#47752445)

Yes, and you can see the gradual increase in their lifespan over the last 100 years from that change too. Over 20 years added. Beer and pork for the win, m'boy!

Re:ha! Inuit diet. Hazda diet. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752539)

You could as easily ascribe their early demise to too much damn cold and their longer spans now by having better clothing. It isn't as simple as they live longer now because they changed their diet.

Re:ha! Inuit diet. Hazda diet. (4, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about three weeks ago | (#47752519)

Inuit in modern Canada eat less walrus and drink more beer than Inuit from three centuries ago.

There lives were even shorter three centuries ago. Their low blood pressure and lack of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease may have had something to do with their diet of walrus blubber, but it just as likely was due to their lifestyle of long distance kayaking and aerobic snowshoe journeys across the ice pack. Chinese peasants also have low blood pressure and little cardiovascular disease, yet they eat a very high starch diet.

Re:ha! Inuit diet. Hazda diet. (4, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about three weeks ago | (#47752987)

Inuit in modern Canada eat less walrus and drink more beer than Inuit from three centuries ago.

Certainly. However, traditional Inuit culture was pretty hard on folks. Although some people did make it into their 70's, many died much earlier - often of starvation (and infectious disease whose morbidity and mortality can be strongly influenced by nutrition). Although they rarely got heart attacks (we suppose, there were rather few autopsies done on these folk) and diabetes was almost unheard of, it's hard to call a traditional Inuit elder as 'healthy'. We also really don't know how long traditional peoples typically lived - birth and death statistics were not typically kept in the hinterlands and people's recollection of events 50 years in the past tends to be hazy.

So it always amuses me that the paleo folks think that the hunter gatherer existence represented the pinnacle of human evolution.

Re:ha! Inuit diet. Hazda diet. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752341)

Racist.

Re:ha! Inuit diet. Hazda diet. (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about three weeks ago | (#47752417)

yes, those damn actuarial tables are so racist, and worse they are sexist too! Those Inuits with vaginas are living 2 to 3 years longer than those without.

Re:ha! Inuit diet. Hazda diet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752605)

The point was that modern Inuit don't eat Paleo. Not sure why you thought that was a feminist statement to protest, I think that says more about you.

Re:ha! Inuit diet. Hazda diet. (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about three weeks ago | (#47752447)

live like those people and flop over dead before your time

Being that alcoholism and suicide are leading causes of death among Inuits . . . those diets must make you feel miserable, too.

Re:ha! Inuit diet. Hazda diet. (1)

Krishnoid (984597) | about three weeks ago | (#47752503)

Along those lines, were paleolithic human diets composed of foods that suited an organism with a paleolithic human life span?

Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | about three weeks ago | (#47752285)

So far studies of foragers like the Tsimane, Arctic Inuit, and Hadza have found that these peoples traditionally didn't develop high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, or cardiovascular disease.

What's the obesity rate in those populations vis-a-vis the Western World?

Anecdote time: My family has a history of heart disease and diabetes, largely self-inflicted via eating ourselves to death. My blood markers (fasting glucose and cholesterol) follow my weight, up and down. Weight loss brought them into the normal range; dietary changes made no discernible impact whatsoever. I eat all the things that are supposedly bad for you, refined carbs, alcohol, greasy foods, and so on. The difference between me and the rest of the family is I exercise self-control and keep my net calories to a reasonable level. Reasonable ranges from 2,000 on days of doing nothing to >5,000 on days with mega hikes or long runs.

People need to stop buying into fad diets and nonsense theories. Barring allergies, most humans are fully capable of assimilating anything they throw at their GI system. Exercise some bloody portion control and get off the couch once in awhile. The rest will take care of itself.

Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about three weeks ago | (#47752299)

my net calories to a reasonable level. Reasonable ranges from 2,000 on days of doing nothing to >5,000 on days with mega hikes or long runs.

(Those numbers would be totals, not net, obviously. My net intake averages around 2,500, which is about right for a high metabolism male....)

Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (5, Informative)

blue9steel (2758287) | about three weeks ago | (#47752439)

People need to stop buying into fad diets and nonsense theories. Barring allergies, most humans are fully capable of assimilating anything they throw at their GI system. Exercise some bloody portion control and get off the couch once in awhile. The rest will take care of itself.

As it turns out not all calories consumed are the same: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/ar... [jamanetwork.com] Diets that produce lower insulin response give a metabolic advantage and reduce hunger. In the study the advantage of a low-glycemic diet over a low fat one, at the same calorie level, was 125 calories per day. This has matched my own experience, additionally I've seen another 75 calorie per day advantage from hunger reduction when not controlling for total calories. (free feeding) Combined that's roughly equivalent to a 1.5 mile jog for a 200lb adult, nothing to sneeze at.

Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about three weeks ago | (#47752647)

Diets that produce lower insulin response give a metabolic advantage and reduce hunger.

That may be true but at the end of the day it's still going to come down to self control. We're one of the few (the only?) animals blessed with the ability to override our base instincts. I guess some people are too powerless to do that.

Combined that's roughly equivalent to a 1.5 mile jog for a 200lb adult, nothing to sneeze at.

Run 20 to 40 miles a week and you will sneeze at a 1.5 mile "jog" :)

Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (2)

blackiner (2787381) | about three weeks ago | (#47752723)

Run 20 to 40 miles a week and you will sneeze at a 1.5 mile "jog" :)

Yeah... and I have found something that works extraordinarily well at burning fat: sprinting. I do a 15 min jog and then 10 reps of 20s sprints/10s rest. Somehow, this basically just completely bypasses the normal laws of physics and starts telling your body to burn fat immediately. I had been working out for years and still had some stubborn bits of fat left, but after sprinting I am eating more and still losing weight. Gotta be in pretty good shape already to try this, though.

Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752963)

You discovered interval training? It's been used since the 1930s and it's one of the first things you would read about if you had done any research on running.

Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (1)

blackiner (2787381) | about three weeks ago | (#47753141)

I mostly had researched marathon running (I wanted to run one, but my joints just can't handle it), there was no real mention of interval training. A lot of fitness stuff nowadays does not even mention cardio, and just focuses on strength training.

Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47753165)

20 miles a week = about 3 miles a day. a 1.5 mile jog is 1/2 of 1 day's exercise.

Why would you sneeze at that?

Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about three weeks ago | (#47752453)

Most of my markers track my diet and weight, but not HDL, and it seems, less anecdotally, that while there are things you can do to improve your HDL (Niacin in medically significant quantities) those things aren't being shown to reduce your rate of heart disease.

I'm not going to argue that eating a healthy diet hurts, but it does not necessarily help if you're born under a bad sign. And this IS an anecdote, but people in my family tend to drop dead of heart attacks in their late 30s and early 40s and are physically fit (or else live into their late 90s, early 100s and not necessarily fit). I do not think the hard data exists to entirely be certain what effects diet is having on health issues, only correlations that may not be easily understood.

Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about three weeks ago | (#47752485)

Obesity not a concern, those groups have no problems with heart disease because they are keeling over dead in mid 60s from other causes.

Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (4, Interesting)

avgjoe62 (558860) | about three weeks ago | (#47752515)

Reminds me of the Amish Diet - eat whatever you want, but walk everywhere. One Amish farmer in a study I remember reading of around 15 years ago walked 28 miles per day on average. The average for all the Amish in the study was 16 miles per day.

Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752759)

Reminds me of the Amish Diet - eat whatever you want, but walk ... 16 miles per day.

Wow, that would be a great diet for losers who have nothing better to do with their time than putz about the countryside.

Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (3, Insightful)

avgjoe62 (558860) | about three weeks ago | (#47752903)

I'm willing to bet that those "...losers who have nothing better to do with their time than putz about the countryside" still lead a better life than some lardass troll that has nothing better to do than sit around in their Mom's basement and make asinine comments on /.

Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (4, Insightful)

dasunt (249686) | about three weeks ago | (#47752851)

Speaking of the idea that we haven't evolved for the modern diet, what about modern exercise, or lack thereof? It's only been in the past few generations that a large percentage of the population have had a mostly inactive lifestyle. We sure didn't evolve under these conditions.

Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about three weeks ago | (#47753047)

This. Move your ass so the rest of you keeps moving. You really don't need all that much exercise to keep in basic shape - an hour a day of moderate cardiovascular exercise like brisk walking.

What is amazing is the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Western World don't get anywhere near this.

Kill your television. You can even get Bonus Points for not worrying about how much your cable company is ripping you off.

Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (4, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | about three weeks ago | (#47752591)

So you're saying, eat less, exercise more, and do it for the rest of your life?

You'll never sell that. People want to know what magic food you can eat that will make the bulge from all the cheetos go away. Telling them to eat fewer cheetos only makes people hate you.

Re:Correlation Does Not Imply Causation (1)

vivek7006 (585218) | about three weeks ago | (#47752837)

So you're saying, eat less, exercise more, and do it for the rest of your life?

You'll never sell that. People want to know what magic food you can eat that will make the bulge from all the cheetos go away. Telling them to eat fewer cheetos only makes people hate you.

Nailed it!

"Paleolithic diets" now vs then (3, Interesting)

walterbyrd (182728) | about three weeks ago | (#47752289)

I doubt so-called "Paleolithic diets" are anything like people ate during that.

For example, people ate fruit then, but it was seasonal, and very different from the fruit we eat today. Same with veggies. The stuff we eat is nothing like the stuff that grew in the wild.

Also, people during that age were not especially healthy. They probably died in their 40s.

The Arctic Inuit may not have high blood pressure, but what about other diseases? Is there average life span any longer than ours?

Then there is the question of physical activity. During the stone age, getting too fat and/or being too inactive, were probably the least of your worries.

Are we really willing to give up coffee, or salt on our foods?

Re:"Paleolithic diets" now vs then (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752495)

Are we really willing to give up coffee, or salt on our foods? Yes and yes.

Next

Re:"Paleolithic diets" now vs then (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about three weeks ago | (#47753061)

Are we really willing to give up coffee, or salt on our foods? Yes and yes.

Next

Give up coffee? Now that's crazy talk.

Re:"Paleolithic diets" now vs then (1, Interesting)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about three weeks ago | (#47752633)

"I doubt" is not helpful here.

The article mentions "unrefined grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables" so your "for example" has holes in it.

"Probably died in their 40s" sounds like you don't have data, and it's a well known bias in life expectancy that infant deaths bring down the average "lived to be" date. I suspect you fell victim to bad statistics.

The popular embrace of a Paleo diet, Ungar and others point out, is based on a stew of misconceptions

Hmm, that sounds like something you would say, but it's right there in the article. H. Erectus ate meat and developed a complicated brain, the article says, and then the advent of agrarian society pushed people towards things they could grow.

Agriculture is widely seen as the start of civilization, as people had to band together and grow stuff together, and not migrate where gardens weren't being grown and tended. Consider that well, because it means that an agrarian diet is also part of the origin of civilization. Also, the article mentions domesticated cattle as being sources of parasites and disease.

At this point in time, you can compare farmers and hunter-gatherers and see how they fared.

Salt and coffee are pretty much irrelevant. If you have high sodium, it might damage you personally and you should not eat things that *will* hurt you, and that's an individual thing, not related to what our ancestors eat. Coffee likewise seems to be irrelevant, since it does not seem to have much effect on our health. Significantly high intake of each are probably bad, but high anything is usually bad.

So what is left from your post? Just a bunch of ignorance.

Re:"Paleolithic diets" now vs then (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752843)

Actually those 40 years can be pretty in the mark, but we need to consider that most adult people during that age didn't die of age. During those times the most dangerous time for minors was until the children reached puberty, after that mortality rate decreased and the cause changed. Also the are know specimens of that time where people reached the 60s, and most of the specimens found died due to injuries and is complications. Basically in that time only a little percent of adult died due to the age.

Re:"Paleolithic diets" now vs then (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752975)

They also had better teeth than us. Cavities weren't common until agriculture. We know that through the skulls we've dug up.

Re:"Paleolithic diets" now vs then (4, Interesting)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about three weeks ago | (#47753123)

The article mentions "unrefined grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables" so your "for example" has holes in it.

What does that have to do with anything? The context of that quote is:

The foods we choose to eat in the coming decades will have dramatic ramifications for the planet. Simply put, a diet that revolves around meat and dairy, a way of eating thatâ(TM)s on the rise throughout the developing world, will take a greater toll on the worldâ(TM)s resources than one that revolves around unrefined grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.

The article here does NOT imply that paleo diets revolved around MODERN "unrefined grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables." It instead merely hints that the environmental consequences of trying to raise more meat for billions of people requires a lot more resources than those MODERN foods.

The fact is that agriculture has selectively bred many of these things over the millennia to make them tastier, more nutrient dense, higher in sugar, etc. The kind of "unrefined grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables" that were actually around hundreds of thousands of years ago were vastly different (in most cases) from what we pick off plants in our gardens and fields today -- even the "unrefined" ones.

So, GP's absolutely correct on this point. Human selective breeding has significantly changed both plant and animal sources of nutrients. Thus, no matter how "unrefined" our food is, very few things at a modern supermarket would have been available to a hunter-gatherer hundreds of thousands of years ago... hence, the "paleo" diet is mostly wishful thinking.

Re:"Paleolithic diets" now vs then (1)

excelsior_gr (969383) | about three weeks ago | (#47752833)

People in the Minoan civilization (which is still more modern than paleolithic) had a life expectancy of only 30 years. However, you have to factor in that they were completely vulnerable to disease and even trivial accidents could be fatal. I would therefore not call them unhealthy, as those individuals died probably at infancy.

Back then food was hard to come by and demanded a great deal of physical activity. So I would go on a limp and say that, having survived your childhood, you would be rather healthy. Until you cut your hand trying to skin that rabbit.

Re:"Paleolithic diets" now vs then (4, Informative)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about three weeks ago | (#47752981)

I doubt so-called "Paleolithic diets" are anything like people ate during that.

Yes. The classic debunking, from someone who is actually an expert on early human diets, is here [youtube.com] .

Now, before all you Paleo fanatics get worked up, yes -- this speaker overemphasizes the carnivore aspect of many so-called "Paleo" diets. And there are some other details she gets wrong, but mostly in stereotyping modern "paleo diets," not in her knowledge of actual ancient diets.

For example, people ate fruit then, but it was seasonal, and very different from the fruit we eat today. Same with veggies. The stuff we eat is nothing like the stuff that grew in the wild.

Yes, and this is the critical thing from that video. Even if you dismiss all the stuff she says about overemphasizing meat, the reality is that our plant-based foods are completely different from the plants that would have been eaten before the dawn of agriculture. We've selectively bred fruits and vegetables for millennia to make them tastier to us, and more concentrated in sugars and other nutrients. (And we've likewise selectively bred our meat sources so that they are very different in composition from wild game.)

So, yeah, it's basically IMPOSSIBLE to eat "like a caveman did" with normal foods from the supermarket. The "paleo" diet might be a few steps closer to some sort of early hominid diet, but it's still significantly closer to the modern diet than it is to anything eaten hundreds of thousands of years ago.

You can buy all the "unrefined" and "natural" and "raw" crap you want, but unless you're seeking out the wild forms of ancient plants (and probably eating many times the amount of fiber even vegetarians eat today) and hunting wild game, chances are your "paleo diet" is as far from the "caveman" as the diet of a rich nobleman 200 years ago would be.

Re:"Paleolithic diets" now vs then (1)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about three weeks ago | (#47753175)

(Just to be clear, "paleo diets" may have some benefits for some people. I'm NOT saying the "paleo diet" ideas are necessarily bad. I'm just saying that in most cases they're NOT actually very much like true hunter-gatherer diets before the dawn of agriculture.)

Re:"Paleolithic diets" now vs then (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47753111)

For example, people ate fruit then, but it was seasonal

Which is why most paleo diets stress that fruit should be eaten "selectively."

Also, people during that age were not especially healthy. They probably died in their 40s.

*IF* you survived to age 15 - infant mortality was high - your life expectancy was in the mid-high 50's. (). [wikipedia.org]

Stop with the caveman nonsense... (3, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about three weeks ago | (#47752297)

It's like calling modern man "manhattanman" because a fraction of the world's population lives in Manhattan.

Re:Stop with the caveman nonsense... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752381)

Crazy Manhattanmen! I see them all day here on the west coast and I just wish they would go back to the apartment dwellings.

Re:Stop with the caveman nonsense... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752463)

Stop with the space colonization nonsense. It's like dreaming that the species will colonize the Galaxy because twelve people walked on the Moon for 45 minutes.

What? (2)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about three weeks ago | (#47752363)

So you mean a 300 gram bag of Doritos, a container of chipotle humus, two beers and a Lindt chocolate bar *isn't* what my ancestors ate?

Re:What? (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about three weeks ago | (#47753073)

Obviously not. They didn't have the metric system in the Paleolithic era.

Erh... do not want! (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about three weeks ago | (#47752371)

The main reason "caveman" didn't die from high blood pressure is probably that something else got him first.

Human, like every animal, is built to guarantee the raise of another generation. Not more. For that, reaching the ripe age of 40 is plenty. More than plenty actually, considering that our species gets fertile around the age of 12-14 years of age (that we don't accept that 'cause we want our kids to be kids longer isn't natures fault). So actually reaching 30 should do. 40 is already a bit of a luxury and would almost enable us to get another generation raised. Some may even reach 50, or even 60 and serve as teachers to propagate learned wisdom.

Huh? Yeah, we can write now. We're talking "caveman" here, don't we?

So don't worry about high blood pressure or living unhealthy lives. You'll still get to be 30 or even 40. What more could you expect, caveman? Anything more is a luxury!

Re:Erh... do not want! (4, Insightful)

rmdingler (1955220) | about three weeks ago | (#47752505)

Absolutely.

It's funny, funny strange not funny ha-ha, but increased longevity enables us to die of more cancers and organ failures than our generational predecessors were allowed.

That's correct kids... dying slowly at eight-five is a luxury.

Re:Erh... do not want! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752527)

12-14 years of age (that we don't accept that 'cause we want our kids to be kids longer isn't natures fault)

Not entirely true - girls bodies are still growing and that means that most girls would have severe complications if they attempted to carry a child at age 12. The sort that without instruments and c-sections would have resulted in the death of mother and baby centuries ago. If you look at the middle ages the documented evidence is that although girls were frequently married at 12 the consummation was delayed until they were more like 15/16, and although a few men took their 'marital rights' earlier than that it was very much frowned upon by the rest of society.

Being able to get pregnant at that age probably springs from an earlier evolution where head size + pelvis size meant it wasn't such an issue, but then became an issue as we became modern humans. Plus the first few cycles are associated with various ongoing changes in the body so you could consider them 'practice' ones.

Re:Erh... do not want! (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about three weeks ago | (#47753113)

Actually, that's not quite true. Having an extended family (ie, grandparents) has been noted in many cultures to afford a survival advantage. It allows for more education time, more time for other family members to get food and shelter and allows for skills to be honed and passed on. So humans may well be different in this respect although extended social groups are found in many animal genera.

Re: Erh... do not want! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47753161)

True.

The driving force is the survival of the our genes and they shared (at least in part) with our extended family including grand kids.

Citation Needed (4, Informative)

Flyskippy1 (625890) | about three weeks ago | (#47752401)

The assertion that foraging people "traditionally didn't develop high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, or cardiovascular disease" needs a big 'Citation Needed' mark.

This Slate article does a great job of explaining how decades of peer reviewed papers on the Inuit all make the mistake of assuming lower cardiovascular disease based on a flawed assumption in a single paper in the 1970s:
http://www.slate.com/articles/... [slate.com]

Re:Citation Needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752493)

Interesting. Thanks for linking that article.

Re:Citation Needed (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752773)

I think we need a new rule in science. Nobody should be allowed to cite an experimental research paper unless the experiment was independently duplicated, or the paper is directly relevant to duplication of that experiment.

I know it would be a huuuuugeeeeeee burden, but I imagine that in a few years time science would become more efficient and faster at churning out useful research.

I know this will never happen. It would result in significantly fewer papers being published, which would undermine career trajectories.

But the current state of affairs is hardly any better than citing to Wikipedia.

Not that I dislike Wikipedia. I think it's one of mankind's most amazing creations. People who criticize Wikipedia tend to overestimate the rigor behind "real" scientific literature. That fact that somebody bothered to cobble together a nice looking P-value does not magically make the research better. In fact the obsession with P-value, as opposed to actual, independent duplication, has been a serious detriment.

That I'm not lactose intolerant... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752459)

That my ancestors and I are not lactose intolerant proves that most of the premise for Paleo is bullshit. My ancestors have adapted to consuming dairy more recently than the paleolithic era. As early as it could have happened would be in the neolithic era when people started domesticating goats and such. Go back to 7000 years from today and my ancestors were collecting milk, without modern refridgeration they were either making cheese or cooking it (fresh cheese, without live cultures).

I will admit that it is possible that high gluten wheat might be harmful in the continous doses we find in our modern diet. But I think more of our problems are due to the massive amounts of sugar we consume in forms that are readily processed by our bodies. Injecting sugar into your veins is probably the only way to raise your blood sugar faster than chugging a carbonated corn syrup beverage.

Be careful with those assumptions. (0)

crmarvin42 (652893) | about three weeks ago | (#47752481)

The idea that we have not had time to evolve to farmed food is just stupid. We've managed to completely revamp the modern pig phenotype from a slow growing lard producing machine, with back fat measuring as much as 9-12 inches to a pig where the standard backfat thickness is measured in millimeters in less than half a century. Humans have been farming for roughly 100 times longer than that.

We've seen human populations with distinct difference in their ability to handle different components of foodstuffs (lactose, gluten, fat, etc). Explain to me how that ISN'T evidence of evolution! The whole "paleo" fad is based on two false assumptions. 1) that we are no longer evolving, and 2) that evolution is directed at some idealized collection phenotypes.

Re:Be careful with those assumptions. (1)

hondo77 (324058) | about three weeks ago | (#47752649)

The idea that we have not had time to evolve to farmed food is just stupid.

No, it's an interesting hypothesis. The thing is, nobody has bothered testing it (in any meaningful way) so it's just that: a hypothesis. Unfortunately, an unsupported hypothesis has never stopped a fad diet before.

Re:Be careful with those assumptions. (1)

crmarvin42 (652893) | about three weeks ago | (#47753253)

Researchers have been studying human evolution by tracking changes in our DNA and using advanced modeling techniques to gauge the rate of our evolution, including projecting various changes backward in time. That's how we know that Neanderthals and modern humans bred with each other. We've found the Neanderthal genes in the modern human population. Most genes contribute to more than one trait, so even small changes in our DNA can lead to large changes in our phenotype. To assume that somehow those changes have magically skipped over affecting any of the numerous genes involved in ingestion, digestion, and metabolizing our food is asinine.

Our ability to support the energy sink that is the human brains is dependent upon our ability to get enough nutrients, and more importantly energy, to support its development and high maintenance requirements as an adult. That it self is evidence of our diet and bodies evolving together. Also, the reduction in the size of our jaws, leading to chronic problems with impacted 3rd molars, is another instance where we have evolved as a result of our diet. The larger jaws of earlier hominids are not necessary because we cook our food. That cooking makes the nutrients more available, meaning we need to eat less. It also makes the food softer, meaning we don't need massive jaws to constantly grind seeds and roots and raw meat.

There is plenty of other evidence that our bodies have evolved in large part BECAUSE of changes in what we eat and how we prepare it. The problem is that fad dieters have never been very big on reading peer-reviewed literature. They prefer to read the book-of-the-month endorsed by some celebrity or health guru.

Re:Be careful with those assumptions. (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about three weeks ago | (#47753137)

The idea that we have not had time to evolve to farmed food is just stupid. We've managed to completely revamp the modern pig phenotype from a slow growing lard producing machine,

By active gene manipulation through selective breeding. We do the same to our crops and produce. I think the term when applied to humans is "eugenics". We could create a super race of humans IF we kept the inferior humans from producing and encouraged the superior, just as we do with pigs. Maybe some day when the aliens with the book "To Serve Humans" show up and cart a bunch of us off to their planet we'll see a demonstration of that.

What we HAVE been able to do by avoiding eugenics with humans while applying modern medicine is to make less robust humans. In the "good old days", if you couldn't see the sabre tooth tiger coming to eat you, your bad eye genes didn't propagate into the rest of the population. Now that eye glasses are common, weak eyes are not selected against on a regular basis, and the genes that lead to them are spread.

The same goes for many medical conditions where our compassion has kept people with bad genes alive long enough to procreate. That's the basis for genetics and evolution, so you can't really say that it isn't happening.

We've seen human populations with distinct difference in their ability to handle different components of foodstuffs (lactose, gluten, fat, etc). Explain to me how that ISN'T evidence of evolution!

Because we've not allowed the driving mechanism for evolution to act when it comes to humans. What you are seeing is the survival of detrimental mutations or maladaptations, not natural selection against them. For example, an inability to handle HFCS in part of the population has not driven evolution to make humans more able to handle them in our processed foods, because we don't let the people who are maladapted die, we give them medicines to keep them alive and having children.

We fight to the death to keep evolution from adapting us, while using it on a regular basis to make our animals and foods better.

I guess this means.... (0, Redundant)

OutOnARock (935713) | about three weeks ago | (#47752483)


We have to go back to eating unshaven pussy......

Pandora's Seed (1)

whatteaux (112343) | about three weeks ago | (#47752489)

There's an interesting book on this subject called "Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization" by Spencer Wells. Basically says that agriculture and its trappings (towns, etc) is a bad idea.

Re:Pandora's Seed (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about three weeks ago | (#47753201)

Ah yes, the 'noble savage' approach. While it can hardly be argued that our current civilization doesn't have profound problems the only way we could return to anything resembling a dispersed hunter-gatherer / small tribal society would for human population to drop by a couple of billion. That might be in store for us no matter what we're planning on happening but it isn't a practical road map (you first).

Also, he does a poor job of showing that the various human ills he ascribes to agricultural civilization were indeed caused by or worsened by grains and concentrated cities. There is rather a lack of data in prehistoric times about important parts of history.

farmed foods? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752565)

Farmed Foods? Is that what we're calling mcdonnalds, doritos, french fries, yogurt and junk food?

Seriously, if we just removed the processed crap that surrounds us everywhere, we'd all be healthy

1. Sugar (white sugar particularly which includes candy and soda, and anything else that has white sugar in it) it's refined like cocaine, not something we're supposed to eat.
2. White Flour
3. Dairy products (milk, cheese, etc)
4. White Rice (Eat brown rice people!! It's not much different! So white rice is easier to chew!!! What are we children???)

Cut out those things, and you can eat anything else you can think of. You will be your "normal weight" without even needing to work out. Your body will just work right. Do it for 3 days straight, and you'll drop weight.. do it for a few weeks and you'll be blown away.

Re:farmed foods? (1)

master_kaos (1027308) | about three weeks ago | (#47753183)

Ok, I agree with most of those, but how is dairy products processed? People been drinking milk and making cheese for centuries

Based on "deeply flawed" studies (3, Interesting)

Holdstrong (647528) | about three weeks ago | (#47752571)

This claim: "So far studies of foragers like the Tsimane, Arctic Inuit, and Hadza have found that these peoples traditionally didn't develop high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, or cardiovascular disease."

Is based on studies that have been called into question recently. One researcher went so far as to call them "deeply flawed" and wondered if anyone had actually read the original studies.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/... [www.cbc.ca]

"The 2014 study has found that Inuit do have similar rates of heart disease compared to non-Inuit populations, and that death rates due to stroke are "very high." "Most of the researchers never read [the original 1970s] papers. They just took it at face value that what they said is so,"

3R soup (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752573)

roots, rats, rocks

There's something to it (5, Interesting)

steveha (103154) | about three weeks ago | (#47752577)

I think there is something to the "Paleolithic Diet" idea, but many people are Doing It Wrong.

The prehistoric people exercised all the time, every day. They ate meat when they could get it, which wasn't 100% of the time, and the meat they got was lean. They ate fruit when they could get it, which was almost never (e.g. berries in late summer, a few dried berries other parts of the year). They ate a variety of high-fiber roots, leaves, and other gatherable food. They didn't eat any processed carbs (white flour, white sugar, etc.).

If we lived more like that, we really would be healthier.

But some people take the idea to places I don't think are good. For example, making a "paleo cake" with no processed sugar sounds good, but if it has large amounts of ground nuts and cooked fruit, and is sweetened with maple syrup... it's really not something that the prehistoric people would have eaten and I'm dubious about the benefit.

Also, it is possible for people to adapt to changing conditions in a few generations; it's not necessarily true that evolution works so slowly that the diet from 10,000 years ago is still perfect for us. TFA talked about lactose tolerance in adults. In the cave-man days there was no evolutionary advantage to being able to consume dairy as an adult, but once people started keeping livestock and harvesting dairy, that changed. Now many people can digest lactose as adults.

TL;DR Eat lean protein, complex carbs rather than simple carbs, and get lots of exercise, and you will be healthy.

Re:There's something to it (4, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | about three weeks ago | (#47752731)

That's why I only eat the meat I catch using nothing but a club. Chasing those damn deer through the parking lot does really help keep off the fat, and keeps the neighbors talking.

Re:There's something to it (2, Informative)

Oligonicella (659917) | about three weeks ago | (#47753009)

They ate fruit when they could get it, which was almost never (e.g. berries in late summer, a few dried berries other parts of the year).

Nope. May apples, mulberries, currents, chokecherries, rose hips, elderberries, cherries, apples, pears, persimmons, hawthorn apples; I just took you from spring into late fall after frost and didn't even cover all the available fruits.

I've picked and made jams, pies and such out of all of the above. (You haven't truly lived until you've had chokecherry or elderberry brandy.)

Re:There's something to it (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about three weeks ago | (#47753071)

My understanding was that the current theory is that it was the move to an agrarian diet that brought about a more active lifestyle and that hunter gatherers would have led a more bursty lifestyle with short periods of food gathering followed by periods of rest (you don't exercise just for the sake of it when you're trying to survive). More active than your average cube dweller for sure but certainly not "all the time"

Re:There's something to it (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about three weeks ago | (#47753085)

Well, we're at least half in agreement. Our brains are programmed to favor dietary items which are high in fat and high in saccarides, Which isn't surprising as we evolved to survive, and high caloric intake was valuable in survival. We've just gotten smart enough not to need such a large volume of input to produce the energy we need to survive. All the processed sugars and fat which are bad for us (well, most of them) exist in exactly the same form in paleolithic era foods - they're just not surrounded by indigestible fibers.

tl;dr If people would stop eating so fucking much and get out and exercise this probably wouldn't be an issue.

Re:There's something to it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47753153)

I agree with most of what you wrote but you're wrong about a couple things. You don't need exercise, you only need to eat properly. There was some study in Australia that put people on a prehistoric-like diet. One group did a lot of work and exercise while the other group sat around doing nothing. They both ended up healthy. Exercising has other benefits like increasing endurance and self-control (and the con of stressing your body), but it's not required to be healthy. Even if you don't believe the study, people exercise to burn off excess energy they got from eating. Eat less and there's nothing excess to burn off so no need to exercise. It makes common sense.

Your Tl;DR is missing the most important point: Lots of veggies. Veggies should be your largest food group. They even fill you up better than carbs, so you'll be less likely to over eat and won't feel hungry when cutting back to only the food you need.

Back then people ate the whole animal. Most people today only eat one of the least nutrient parts: muscle meat

The people without lactose tolerance died during the famine leaving those left to spread the mutation around. Most people have kids before heart disease kicks in so there's much less evolutionary pressure to adapt. The things that kill us slowly stick around.

Re:There's something to it (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about three weeks ago | (#47753239)

I'm very sorry but your approach does not lend itself to a book (or better yet, a series of books), supplements, a prime time guest appearance on Oprah, glossy magazine advertisements, special (and expensive) foods or really any other aspect of modern merchandising.

Please re work your proposal and come back to us when you've figured out how to make money off of it.

Evolution... (5, Funny)

msauve (701917) | about three weeks ago | (#47752611)

How is the human race ever going to develop the genes needed for a modern diet unless we let fatty burgers, salty fries, and sugary drinks kill off the weak ones before they breed so the gene pool can improve?

If you're eating a "stone age diet," you're part of the problem.

Re:Evolution... (1)

Flyskippy1 (625890) | about three weeks ago | (#47752801)

How? Genetic Engineering. Much faster than waiting around for Natural Selection. And much more ethical than Artificial Selection (Eugenics).

Re:Evolution... (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about three weeks ago | (#47753041)

It's the new slogan: "McDonalds, just think of it as evolution in action".

(With apologies to Niven and, (my lawyers tell me), McDonalds)

Re:Evolution... (1)

istartedi (132515) | about three weeks ago | (#47753185)

The trouble with this is that after fatty food their attractiveness as mates declines. That's where beer comes in. Don't forget the beer.

Lets be consistent (0)

argStyopa (232550) | about three weeks ago | (#47752613)

For all the people who believe that this is true, I think we should encourage them.

- Humans haven't evolved to travel faster than walking/riding speed, so they should eschew all forms of mechanical transport >30 mph.
- Humans haven't evolved to emotionally cope with communication without being in-person, so they need to give up cell phones
- Humans' eyes haven't evolved to cope with electronic text or really any text, so they should never read or go on the internet.

Personally, I agree, this would be a better world if they all did that. I know I'd be happier.

(in short, this is stupid; natural selection works as a RESULT of environmental and species' behavioral changes, not that we have to wait until we evolved to be able to cope with X before we can do it.)

Life is 100 % fatal (1)

Moof123 (1292134) | about three weeks ago | (#47752629)

Nuff said.

Re:Life is 100 % fatal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47753167)

So far I'm an exception to that rule.

CAPTCHA: anomaly

You're going the wrong way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752643)

We shouldn't go paleo. We should go modern. Remove people from "the wild" and put them in zoos. Animals in zoos often outlive animals in the wild. The diet is part of it, but they are also not competing with other animals or fighting. So. Put people in zoos. Feed them well, and separate them if there appears to be any hostility or tension. Competition is stressful. Heart disease comes from stress. Put everybody in a zoo and let the keeper guarantee a sufficient lifestyle.

"Paleo Diet" haters (2)

dltaylor (7510) | about three weeks ago | (#47752671)

Folks, please remember that this is a "fad". There's nothing of intelligence involved in choosing the diet (might make more sense, based on some of the research I've seen, to infect themselves with parasites, as our ancestors were, to retrain their immune systems and reduce inflammation). Providing logical arguments against the "Paleo diet" to a population that has self-selected against intelligence, is, itself, not logical.

Re:"Paleo Diet" haters (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about three weeks ago | (#47753017)

Not completely out of line as there is some evidence weight gain may be influenced by gut fauna. I await more evidence but my hunch is that such will be forthcoming.

Re:"Paleo Diet" haters (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about three weeks ago | (#47753343)

I'm not fat, I've just got giant gut fauna.

I think there was a band at Lollapalooza this year called, "Gut Fauna". They're a Finnish folk-metal band, so there are umlaut's over the "u"s.

Keyword: Believe (3, Insightful)

roninchurchill (2991659) | about three weeks ago | (#47752745)

"A lot of people believe there is a discordance between what we eat today and what our ancestors evolved to eat"

"The popularity of these so-called caveman or Stone Age diets is based on the idea that modern humans evolved to eat the way hunter-gatherers did during the Paleolithic..."

The emphasized words sum up the evidence backing up a "Paleo Diet"--it's a belief system, not science. We have a bevy of research to support the health benefits of foods such as legumes and whole grains and barely a scrap which suggests they cause harm. Is there a chance some future research will demonstrate that whole grains and legumes cause health problems that more than offset any potential benefits? Sure, but there's also people holding out for proof that homeopathy works.

I'm not saying you can't eat a Paleo Diet and be perfectly healthy, I'm just saying that it's pseudoscience based on an appeal to wisdom and an appeal to nature. We might also argue that humans haven't had time to evolve for wearing clothing (based off low circulating vitamin D levels) and that therefore we should definitely stop wearing them, and there is a similar paucity of research. Suffice to say: it's not science, it's a pure-and-simple belief system.

Re:Keyword: Believe (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about three weeks ago | (#47752999)

time to evolve for wearing clothing (based off low circulating vitamin D levels) and that therefore we should definitely stop wearing them,

Newsletter, etc.

Re:Keyword: Believe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47753197)

People aren't complaining much about legumes and whole grains, it's all the refined and artificially created stuff. Their belief is correct. Do you really believe caveman ate pringles and salt water taffy?

Re:Keyword: Believe (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about three weeks ago | (#47753329)

People are all excited about the Paleo diet because they lose weight on it.

But the fact is, if you eat a highly restricted diet of any kind, you're probably going to lose weight. People get on the Paleo diet and become zealots, making sure that nary an iota of grain goes into their mouths. If you're paying that much attention to the food you're eating, you're probably not throwing garbage down your throat like most fat people do. So yes, you'll lose weight.

You'll also lose weight if you restrict your diet to brown rice, seaweed and overcooked lentils. Of course, you'll also lose your will to live, but that's a different discussion.

I've noticed a high correlation between people on the Paleo diet and the anti-vaccination crowd. I guess crazy is a wasting disease.

Now, you'll hear people say, "Look at all the professional athletes on the Paleo diet! They must know what they're doing." But that ignores the fact that these phony "nutritionists" hang around these athletes, trying to convince them to buy into or endorse their product/book, and if you actually look at what's on a professional team's table in training camp, you'll see a well-balanced selection from all the food groups and even a few tasty things just because they're tasty. All the Paleo stuff comes from the athletes hanging around these fraudulent "health experts" in the off-season (who also tend to be the ones to get them to use performance enhancing drugs like deer antlers and human growth hormone). The guy in Florida who is facing serious federal time for running a PED-ring got started in the business with a product called (I'm not making this up) "Zap Your Zits With Zinc" where people paid outlandish sums for less than a penny's worth of zinc (which also happened to be a near-toxic dose, if I understand correctly). It didn't clear up anybody's skin, but it got the "nutritionist" started on the road to making big money giving guys in the gym stuff to make them all swole up like mesomorphic bratwursts.

Now, there are certain aspects of the Paleo diet that appeal to me, like the fact that you can eat all the spare ribs you want, the fattier the better. However, I don't see how any diet that rules out italian bread with fresh mozzarella and olive oil washed down by cold beer could possibly be good for you.

Its not about diet - its about exercise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47752923)

Anyone living on a foraging diet is by necessity going to require more exercise, and probably suffers from a poor diet. The exercise will lead to lower rates of high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease - not the diet.

Already disproven. (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about three weeks ago | (#47752937)

Its largely a result of some bad statistics on Inuit peoples in north america.

That is almost the entire basis of the diet which is insufficient to back up a thesis of this scope. And the stats in question were shown to be wrong/flawed... thus rendering the basis of the diet nonexistent.

Nonsense. (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about three weeks ago | (#47752983)

I was only reading the other day about some "Sonic" gene.

A most misleading summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47753109)

The article does a good job of calling into question many of the Paleo claims. Yet, the slashdot summary would have you believe the claims are in fact vindicated in the article. tsk tsk

Diet Evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47753139)

All diets evolve to include more bacon. That's progress!

" that our genes haven't had enough time to adapt" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47753145)

this misses the fundamental concepts of evolution. Why would we ever evolve to adapt? Evolving to adapt to something that kills a species slowly is ridiculous. If a contributing evolutionary factor doesn't impact a species greatly until after child bearing years, why would it matter? Being 'kind of bad for you over 30 years' is completely irrelevant, as long as you continue as a species to have children before it affects your health in a meaningful way. As long as we eat, breed, and procreate, what it does to our general health and long term longevity is not an evolutionary topic.

TL; DR
People will never evolve past any issues that don't slow down or stop procreation. There is no need to adapt if it is not affecting a species procreation.

Ketosis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47753193)

The main advantage of these low carb, paleo style diets give the human body a chance to switch over to long periods of ketosis which the average carb infested westerner rarely ventures into. Having your body release chemicals which scour your body looking for fat to burn must do wonders for removing plague from your arteries.
It's common knowledge that calorie restricted diets extend life expectancy. Fasting results in ketosis too. I believe long periods of ketosis is the main thing missing from most westerners lives.
Anyway, I've been doing the ketogenic diet and the cyclic ketogenic diet (carb free Monday to Friday) for nearly 12 months and it's been amazing for me. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to shed any excess pounds.

Aside from all the other reasons stated... (1)

TheRealSteveDallas (2505582) | about three weeks ago | (#47753203)

Exactly what percentage of people who die before the age of 25 have developed high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, or cardiovascular disease even today? That is a middle-aged problem set even in a world where we eat shit sitting in front of the TV every damn day for 35 years.

put a label on it. (5, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about three weeks ago | (#47753233)

I'm pretty sure our ancestors didn't evolve to eat corn that was licensed by Monsanto. Just a thought.

But I understand GMO foods are going to totally fix world hunger, which is why they're primarily sold in the US, where judging from the girth of people I see on the street, everybody's hungry as hell.

Re:put a label on it. (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about three weeks ago | (#47753317)

I'm pretty sure our ancestors didn't evolve to eat corn that was licensed by Monsanto. Just a thought.

But I understand GMO foods are going to totally fix world hunger, which is why they're primarily sold in the US, where judging from the girth of people I see on the street, everybody's hungry as hell.

We are guinea pigs for the rest of the world. Looks like it's working.

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