Spices Of Life From Your Kitchen Shelf

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Food Rules Simplified

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Okay, so let's simplify nutrition a bit here... everyone out there seems confused about what is the best "diet" to be on.  People seem to love to always jump from fad diet to fad diet such as low-fat diets, atkins diets, south beach diets, grapefruit diets, detox diets, vegetarian diets, and other sometimes ridiculous diets that most times are based on one person's opinion or marketing scheme (or personal agenda) rather than based on actual science.
The only "diet" that's actually based on real science is the study of paleolithic nutrition (aka - paleo diet).  But I hate to call it "paleo diet", because it's not like any other fad diet, since it's based on real archaeological nutritional science about what our ancestors ate before the agricultural revolution came around.  The idea is simply that for the first 99.5% of our existence (ancestors back as far as 2 Million years ago, homo erectus), we only ate wild plants and animals, while for the last 0.5% of our existence (since the agricultural revolution in the last 5,000-10,000 years), humans now almost entirely eat farmed plants and animals.  The biggest change this represents is the massive inclusion of grains in our current diet (and what our animals are fed) now compared to our Paleolithic ancestors.
Many people think that we don't know exactly what ancient humans ate... but this is false.  
Nutritional archaeologists know pretty convincingly what ancient humans ate as they study a lot of evidence such as ancient feces remains as well as studying isotope ratios in human bone samples from all over the world through every time period in history to determine ratios of animals vs plants that ancient humans ate --which by the way, was always an omnivorous mixture of plants and animals, and a fairly high protein intake...there was no such thing as ancient paleolithic vegetarians...any Nutritional Archaelogist can confirm that they simply didn't exist.  We were all omnivores that ate different ratios of plants and animals based on what part of the world, what latitude we lived, and the time of the year. 
So what exactly did our Paleolithic ancestors eat for the first 99.5% of our existence, representing what we are still programmed to eat?  Simple:
  • Wild meat, fish, and seafood  (animals that ate the right foods, unlike our current farmed meats and farmed fish)
  • fruits
  • veggies
  • eggs
  • nuts
  • seeds
Grains were only a very TINY fraction of the ancient Paleolithic diet as there was no way to process large amounts of grain back in that day into flour, so amounts of wild grain would have been small such as a few grains in an occasional soup or stew.  As you can see, it's quite a far cry from the junk we are being fed today