Sunday, September 7, 2008
Here is an excerpt from the Paleo Diet folks: They advocate a really healthy, common sense diet, that resembles what our ancient ancestors subsisted on:
Exceptional Health of our Hunter-Gatherer Ancestors Loren Cordain
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate diets focused on meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, maybe nuts. And they were consistently described as displaying exceptional health, fitness, strength, and vitality.
If you are like most people, you probably know very little about hunter-gatherers. In fact, many people assume that Stone Age people and contemporary hunter-gatherers would have been in "continual fear and danger of violent death" and their lives would have been "poor, nasty, brutish, and short", as suggested in The Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes in 1651.
In reality, the historical and anthropological record simply does not support this line of reasoning. Almost without exception, descriptions of hunter-gatherers by early European explorers and adventurers showed these people to be healthy, fit, strong, and vivacious. These are the same characteristics that can be yours when you follow the dietary exercise principles that we lay out in The Paleo Diet, this newsletter, and our other programs and services.
Historical Descriptions of Hunter-gatherers
George Catlin, the famous chronicler of American Indians, circa 1832-39, glowingly used these words to describe the Crow tribe: "They are really a handsome and well-formed set of men as can be seen in any part of the world. There is a sort of ease and grace added to their dignity of manners, which give them the air of gentlemen at once. I observed the other day, that most of them were over six feet high . . ." "It is but to paint a vast country of green field, where the men are all red - where meat is the staff of life . . . ." .
Cabeza de Vaca, the Spanish Explorer, saw native Florida Indians in 1527 and called them, "wonderfully well built, spare, very strong and very swift. Similar observations of the indigenous inhabitants of Florida were made in 1564 by the French explorer Rene Laudonniere, who noted that, "The agility of the women is so great that they can swim over great rivers, bearing their children upon one of their arms. They climb up, also, very nimbly upon the highest trees in the country. . . . even the most ancient women of the country dance with the others". In his account of California Indians in 1869, Begert notes, "the Californians are seldom sick. They are in general strong, hardy, and much healthier than the many thousands who live daily in abundance and on the choicest fare that the skill of Parisian cooks can prepare".
Captain Cook who visited New Zealand in 1772 was particularly impressed by the good health of the native Maori, "It cannot be thought strange that these people enjoy perfect and uninterrupted health. In all our visits to their towns, where young and old, men and women, crowded about us, prompted by the same curiosity that carried us to look at them, we never saw a single person who appeared to have any bodily complaint, nor among the numbers that we have seen naked did we perceive the slightest eruption upon the skin, or any marks that an eruption had been left behind . . . . A further proof that human nature is here untainted with disease is the great number of old men that we saw. . . . appeared to be very ancient , yet none of them were decrepit; and though not equal to the young in muscular strength, were not a whit behind them in cheerfulness and v ivacity."
So, now that we know how the historical descriptions of early European explorers read. But to more deeply understand why our genome hasn't kept up with our dietary changes, it is helpful to conceptualize how much time has our ancestors ate a Paleolithic type diet, compared to how long the modern diet has been around. That's what we'll take a look at next time.
This Week's Food Tip - Paleo on the Go Nell Stephenson
Are you finding it challenging to stick with your Paleo Diet when you're always on the go? With a little bit of preparation, this can become an absolute non-issue.
* Keep hard-boiled eggs in the fridge for a source of quick protein. Have the egg whites and save the yolks for your dog to keep his coat shiny!
* Chop up enough carrots, bell peppers, celery, broccoli or whatever other veggies you enjoy to last a few days and snack on those with a handful of raw walnuts (non- perishable, so keep 'em handy!) in the car, or at your desk between meetings.
* Make it a priority to go grocery shopping two or three times per week. Don't let yourself run out of fresh fruits & veg. Turn grabbing a piece (or a few) of fruit before you leave home into a daily habit.
* Keep it simple. If you've been keeping on top of your 'hour in the kitchen', you'll not be in short supply of fresh, healthy food that you've prepared yourself. Don't feel as though you have to spend tons of time cooking gourmet meals in order to keep on top of things.
* Finally, don't be afraid to think outside of the standard foods for each meal. Who ever said that eggs are the only protein option for breakfast or that you can't combine something sweet (like an apple) with something savory (like a fresh piece of wild salmon). It may sound like an odd couple, but the point is that if you continue to try new foods and combinations, you're not going to get bored!
News and Upcoming Events
In Search of the Perfect Human Diet, a documentary being produced by CJ Hunt, has recently found new distribution support. San Francisco's PBS station group led by KQED has come on board with a letter of official interest in both the project and in presenting it nationally to the 353 other stations in the PBS system. Check it out, and send them a donation!
On September 8, Dr. Cordain will be giving a brand new talk entitled Malaria and Rickets Represent Selective Forces for the Convergent Evolution of Adult Lactase Persistence. This will be held at Harlan ll, An International Symposium. Biodiversity in Agriculture: Domestication, Evolution, & S