Taubes addresses the history of meat eating,
and discusses the argument of eating
what we evolved to eat.
“The idea is that the longer a particular type of food
has been part of the human diet,
the more beneficial and less harmful it probably is
- the better adapted we become to that food.
And if some food is new to human diets,
or new in large quantities,
it’s likely that we haven’t yet had time to adapt,
and so it’s doing us harm.”
Taubes says the diets of the hunter-gatherers
were very high in protein, high in fat,
and low in carbohydrates “by normal standards”.
All the most fattening:
…are very new additions to human diets.
Many of these foods have been available
for only the past few hundred years.
Corn and potatoes originated as New World
vegetables, and spread to Europe and Asia
only after Columbus.
the machine refining of flour and sugar
dates only back to the late nineteenth century.
Just two hundred years ago, we ate less
than a fifth of the sugar we eat today.”
Taubes goes on
“Even the fruits we eat today are vastly different,
and now they’re available year-round,
rather than for only a few months of the year.
the kinds of fruit we eat today –
Fuji apples, Bartlett pears, navel oranges –
have been bred to be far juicier
and sweeter than the wild varieties,
and so, in effect to be far more fattening.”
“the modern foods that today constitute more than 60%
of all the calories in the typical Western diet
– including cereal grains, dairy products, beverages,
vegetable oils and dressings, and sugar and candy –
would have contributed none of the energy
in the typical hunter-gatherer diet.
If we believe that our genetic makeup
has a say in what constitutes a healthy diet,
then the likely reason that easily digestible
starches, refined carbohydrates (flour and white rice),
and sugars are fattening
is that we didn’t evolve to eat them,
and certainly not in the quantities
in which we eat them today.”
Next Taubes talks about the association
of chronic diseases with modern diets and lifestyle
and specifically with eating sugar and flour.
He says this concept was rejected because
“it clashed with the idea that dietary fat
causes heart disease, which had become the
preferred hypothesis of nutritionists in the United States.
And those nutritionists were simply unaware
of the historical and geographical depth
of the evidence implicating sugar and flour.”
Evolution has always been a difficult concept for me,
because I came from a family of strict “Creationists”,
and as a result, I never formed a personal interest
in Paleo Theories.
I confess that my mind is totally messed up in that area,
and therefore, truthfully, Hunter/gatherer statements
are fairly meaningless to me, and do little to convince
me that meat is more common to humans than plants.
However, I do understand and agree
that fruit is now bred to be sweeter,
and its year round availability
became the case only in recent history.
Also I don’t see how anyone can disagree
with the fact that the ready availability of
refined flour and sugar is also relatively recent.
I am impressed by the fact that
so many societies free of the “diseases of civilization”
began suffering from them,
only after incorporating sugar and flour into their diets.
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