Every week there is a new announcement from the science world about whether this or that is good or bad for us. No wonder we are confused. Dr Lindeberg is different in that he:
- Operates from the highest context possible – that we are shaped by evolution
- Has done critical research in the field himself
- Has read EVERYTHING and on diet that there is
- Has put all of this together in one book that while being a science book, and expensive, is very accessible to the interested reader
I think that there are 2 key books in the Diet Evolutionary arena – this is the foundation and Gary Taubes’s Good Calories Bad Calories is the floor. Both deal head on with the Conventional Wisdom that fat makes us fat and that grains are good for us.
Here is part of a review that will give you a sense of what to expect:
Why study our evolutionary diet? Author Staffan Lindeberg, MD, PhD, explains that (from the perspective of evolutionary biology) there are four causes of disease or symptoms: attack (as with bacteria and viruses); defense (as with a fever, in which your body is heating itself up to limit the cell division of the bacteria and virus); design error (as with choking on food–airway and gastrointestinal system are crossed); and lack of adaptability to new environment (as with insulin resistance, since we are eating more high glycemic carbs than our ancestors did). The drug companies would have you believe that every disease is a design error and needs to be fixed by a new chemical concoction. In reality, modern diseases began with agriculture. We have clearly not adapted to a diet rich in carbs and especially grains and legumes filled with anti-nutrients such as lectins and phytates.
Lindeberg points out the limitations and contradictions found in scientific nutritional studies. Epidemiological research (which involves observing factors affecting the health and illness of populations) is unreliable because we cannot control all factors. Molecular biology is hard because lab animals are not biologically the same as humans. Furthermore, there are many as yet undiscovered nutrients and molecules that can impact the studies. An intervention study with a controlled trial has the flaw that people often simultaneously improve their lifestyle in other respects, such as giving up smoking or exercising more. Then there is publication bias, as studies with a positive outcome get published more often. There is funding bias, since scientists want to please those who finance their studies so they can get more work. Citation bias also occurs: drug studies get quoted much more than nutritional ones do. Then there is the influence of preconceived ideas: of course, every researcher hopes that his or her hypothesis will be confirmed.
Evolutionary medicine provides an important complement to traditional scientific methods. The new study of nutigenomics looks at the effects of foods and food constituents on gene expression. It considers the diet that people evolved eating. Traditional people on their traditional diets have been observed to be free of modern day illnesses. Those that were best suited to the food that was available were the ones that had the greatest chance of surviving. Adaptation is very slow, often taking about 40,000 years. Tale the last 365 million years and convert them to a calendar year, making each million years one day. On January 1, we have our amphibian ancestor. Early mammal is born on June 10. Our first primate ancestor arrives on October 28. Homo Sapiens is born December 31 at 7:30 PM. Agriculture develops at 11:45 PM. At 11:59:50, just 15 minutes after agriculture and 10 seconds before the end of the year, cardiovascular disease begins.
This book not only discusses our ancestral diet, but also includes a chapter with a section on every disease of civilization: heart and cardiovascular issues, diabetes, cancer, dementia, autoimmune diseases, obesity and more.
The bottom line from all the studies is: eat a diet based on fish, lean meat, fruits, vegetables, and some eggs and nuts. (Eat seeds sparingly as they are too high in omega-6 fats.) Grains and dairy are not our original foods, although some people can eat them when they are prepared properly. (For example, dairy should be fermented.)