Dietary Culture & DNA

The advent of agriculture was the greatest contributor to the alteration of the “standard” way of life. I’ll explain…

Pre-Agriculture: ¬†Predominantly nomadic lifestyles, exposed to elements and dangers, with significant physical investment to obtain, grow, and harvest food. They hunted animals whose meat was both lean and fatty, and foraged for nuts, seeds, berries, leaves and greens, and the occasional “fruit”. This was a daily search for enough food to share with the small community to stave off starvation. Safety was lacking, but physical exertion – whether finding food or running from the proverbial tiger – was abundant. Any food supply they kept with them was likely a goat or other small animal providing milk (continuous source of nourishment without consuming the animal itself), and possibly a small supply of plants for a garden, but only enough to carry to the next site once the local environment became short of resources or the season changed. This led to a diet of mostly protein and fat, with very few sources of starch or sugar. Any nourishment they could find and divide among the members of the group would be quickly utilized in the body to fuel the requirements of daily living. [Less, but higher quality food, more exercise vs. greater danger from predators and elements.]

Post-Agriculture:  Abundant sources of food in one, stable, site changed the way of life from mobile and nomadic to stationary, allowing for larger communities since belongings no longer needed to be portable and the food supply was much larger, there was enough to feed more people. Once communities became larger, safety from the elements and predator increased. Food was now being produced by a few individuals for the whole community and traded as commodity. Meats and grains became the new norm, since the community was now stable enough to allow crops to grow for months at a time, then harvest and replant new crops. Fruits and vegetables became de-emphasized, obtaining food relied on bartering or financial resources, and very little work was required by the average person to obtain the food. Of course some chose to grow their own food, but the pressure to survive from it had been removed since the large scale agriculture was there in case their own small production failed or was found insufficient. [Safer, more food, more storable fuel vs. Less work required to obtain food, and lower quality food.]

Our DNA and resulting biochemistry are still wired for the Pre-agricultural lifestyle – storing any extra fuel we can in case of famine. Combining that with the over-abundance of readily available food, without work, we end up choosing foods for flavor and instant gratification rather than nutritional value, and we over eat. So we store and we store and we store, readying our bodies for famine that – almost guaranteed – won’t come in our lifetime. The only thing our body can store is glucose (or sugar) which comes from grains (wheat, rice, corn, etc), starches (potatoes mostly), and fruit (fructose, actually, but still sugar, just processed differently). And it stores it as fat.

Stress (life, illness, physical or environmental) releases Cortisol from the Adrenal glands. This raises blood sugar so that you have more resources available if you need the fuel to run away from that tiger, and is meant to help you get away from the stressor – maybe 5-10 minutes. However, life in our current society is much less life-threatening, in-the-moment stress, and more big picture stresses – job, money, family, relationship, etc., that persist constantly. Constantly increased, cortisol-induced blood sugar rises lead to a more insulin-resistant variety of fat deposited around the abdomen, leading to the familiar “apple-shaped” body, which has higher risk of developing Diabetes (DM type 2) (if the deposition isn’t the result of diabetes already).

Summary: Eat as if we still had to work for our food (pre-agricultural style), with some good quality meat, lots of veggies, nuts and seeds (I prefer almonds, walnuts and brazil nuts), and some berries. This will keep blood sugar stable, nourish your brain, prevent belly fat, encourage burning present excess fats for energy, reduce inflammation, improve mood and mental clarity, optimize immune system function, etc. Finding stress management techniques that work for you, that you enjoy, and that you can do often, will also improve overall health and sleep quality.

admin posted at 2014-11-24 Category: Health Information

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