Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
28 Feb

Did a Wrinkle in Human Evolution Predispose Us to Diabetes?

A new mice-with-an-engineered-human-genetic-deficiency study is out that promises to shed light on why humans are so darn diabetic and obese – and the cause is an evolutionary “mistake.” A deficiency that apparently slipped through the cracks without somehow leading to our species’ demise. You see, we’re missing a genetic component shared by pretty much all other mammals besides ourselves. While mammals generally produce two types of sialic acids, N-acetylneuraminic acid (Neu5Ac) and N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc), thanks to a mutation in a gene called CMAH, humans produce only the former. We don’t have the enzyme necessary to convert Neu5Ac to Neu5Gc. Why is this important? Sialic acids act as “contact points” for our cells to interact with the environment and other cells, and the latest research indicates that mice with the humanesque CMAH mutation are more prone to diabetes, especially when they’re overweight.

Both mice with the genetic mutation and without grew obese and insulin resistant on the high-fat lab diet (I only have access to the abstract, so no details are given on the composition of the high-fat diet, but if it’s anything like the 14.4% trans-fat ketogenic rat diet, I wouldn’t read much into it), but only the mice with the mutation experienced pancreatic beta cell failure. As you may know, a healthy pancreas with successful beta cells secretes insulin as needed. Unhealthy pancreases whose beta cells are abject failures tend to be owned by diabetics. These mice showed all the hallmarks of human diabetes – obesity, insulin resistance, and a failing pancreas – while possessing the same genetic “defect” that humans have. Diabetes is increasingly prevalent among modern humans, all of whom possess the CMAH defect. Coincidence?

I can buy it. It seems like a reasonable hypothesis, but I wonder how relevant it really is to the situation. I have to wonder, for example, why we and our hominid ancestors were able to stay relatively healthy and free of a serious diabetes epidemic for 2.8 million years. We’ve (and by “we,” I mean homo sapiens sapiens and our immediate ancestors) never had the ability to make Neu5Gc – same as the mice with pancreatic failure – and yet it’s only in the last few decades that diabetes has grown to epidemic proportions. Maybe there’s something more to the epidemic? Perhaps major changes to our food, our activity, and our lifestyles that have taken place in the last hundred years are altering the way our genes interact with the environment? Just throwing it out there.

Anyway, how come Neu5Gc production was deactivated in hominids? Where’s the advantage? Three million years ago, malarial parasites found hosts by latching exclusively onto Neu5Gc sialic acids, so the Neu5Ac—>Neu5Gc deactivation mutation probably gave hominids resistance against malaria. They no longer carried Neu5Gc and the parasites had no entry point. Obviously, malarial parasites have since adapted and now frequently use our bodies as hosts through different pathways, but that’s the evolutionary “justification” for the CMAH mutation. There’s also speculation that total removal of Neu5Gc from hominids allowed the expansion of their – of our – brains in concert with our switch to a denser diet rich in animal foods.

To me, this just goes to show that there’s no grand design at work here. There’s no steady progression onward; rather, evolution is a series of fits, starts, momentary setbacks, and shortsighted adaptations. It’s fascinating, fun stuff.

What do you think about all this? Does it make you more resolute to wrest control of your environmental inputs, like diet, exercise, and stress?

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. “To me, this just goes to show that there’s no grand design at work here. There’s no steady progression onward; rather, evolution is a series of fits, starts, momentary setbacks, and shortsighted adaptations. It’s fascinating, fun stuff.”

    I agree completely and could not have said it better myself.

    Paleohund wrote on February 28th, 2011
    • I agree, that is a very good summary of how evolution works.

      Tim wrote on February 28th, 2011
    • I personally do not believe in evolution. I think that God made us the way he chose to make us, and apparently that included making us different than animals in that we lack the ability to make Neu5Gc.

      But so what? Evolution of God’s grand design, the fact of the matter is we need to eat healthy, get some exercise, control stress, sleep at night, and so forth if we want to have healthy bodies.

      So while the Neu5Gc thing is interesting, I find myself agreeing with the statement: “It seems like a reasonable hypothesis, but I wonder how relevant it really is to the situation.” Indeed.

      Jon wrote on February 28th, 2011
      • I meant to say “Evolution *or* God’s grand design…” Meaning either way… Kind of doesn’t make sense with an OF instead of the OR that should have been there. :)

        Jon wrote on February 28th, 2011
        • Your not alone here. Whether evolution or divine design we can still come to the same conclusions about living healthy.

          glenn wrote on February 28th, 2011
      • Evolution is not something you BELIEVE in. You either understand it or you don’t.

        It’s NOT a religion, which does require some sense of belief.

        Asturian wrote on February 28th, 2011
        • Very well said and I agree. People believe in God or they don’t. There are tons of different religions and everyone has their own perception of it all.

          Evolution is a fact. Their is physical evidence. Their are studies to back it up. You can’t say that about God.

          I don’t want to insult anyone who believes in God. These are simply my feelings.

          I believe praying works and I believe going to Church can also have a strong effect on ones soul. But it is your inner self answering those prayers, not God. You are God. I am God. We are all God.

          Primal Toad wrote on February 28th, 2011
        • You can have a thorough understanding of a religion and not believe in it. You can understand the Theory of Evolution or Eugenics and not believe in them as well.

          T13 wrote on March 1st, 2011
        • Again.

          Trying to make “science” into a religious belief system only shows your ignorance of science.

          But not worry too much about it. You are obviously not alone in your lack of understanding this concept.

          Asturian wrote on March 2nd, 2011
        • great answer

          pjnoir wrote on March 3rd, 2011
    • To me, this just goes to show that there’s no grand design at work here. There’s no steady progression onward; rather, evolution is a series of fits, starts, momentary setbacks, and shortsighted adaptations. It’s fascinating, fun stuff.

      VERY DAWKINS MARK!

      Joseph Michael wrote on February 28th, 2011
  2. I’d say that it didn’t slip through so much as wasn’t all that important. It’s only in recent history that we’ve eaten so much sugar, refined carbs and processed foods. Every one of us carries innumerable mutations which are irrelevant until environmental pressures either select for or against those of us carrying/not carrying these mutations. Evolution is a many splendored thing.

    Sandy wrote on February 28th, 2011
    • Precisely! Well put :-)

      Kelda wrote on March 1st, 2011
  3. Okay, this is not something we usually say around here. But I’m really wondering about the high fat thing: wouldn’t most hunter-gatherer diets be relatively low fat, thanks to the leanness of most game meat? Are we going overboard eating large amounts of fats our ancestors would only rarely have had in abundance?

    I am not trying to start a war, I swear. I know high fat/low carb diets work especially well for diabetics, I know the right fats make a difference, I know some northern tribes thrive on a 60% blubber diet. I’m more . . . curious about whether a very high fat diet is actually primal and actually best practice, over the long term.

    Weatherwax wrote on February 28th, 2011
    • Our ancestors ate the whole animal, especially the organ meats which tend to be incredibly high fat. Hominid’s first foray into eating animals is believed to be marrow that they could scavenge, also very high fat. As most westerners either don’t eat or can’t get offal all that regularly regular fat from pastured animals is perfectly healthy.

      Sandy wrote on February 28th, 2011
      • “Can’t get” is definitely not the problem. If you can still find a real butcher in your area, they’ll have it. If you go to an ethnic grocery, most of them will have it too.

        I’m blessed to have an actual meat market in my town, and while we’ve only been there once (I’m not the one with the grocery purse strings in this household), I did find heart and liver in the freezer case while we were there. I think they might have had kidney and oxtail as well.

        A Korean grocery that is walking distance from my house frequently carries fish heads and chicken feet. Both are supposed to be amazing when added to their respective broths.

        I’m like you, I can’t stand offal… it lives up to its (homophonic) name. *grin* But I wish I liked it. I look up ways to hide liver in ground beef and think about taking the plunge.

        Lesson to parents: If you want your kids to eat this stuff, learn how to cook it before you serve it to them. I really think my aversion to liver came from parents preparing it badly. I understand that’s pretty common in my generation (Gen X) and earlier.

        Dana wrote on February 28th, 2011
        • True, true, the vast majority can get it if you look for it. I actually have liked most of the offal that I’ve tried. Except pig brains. My ex asked for a sample in a restaurant in Romania and it was served in a type of croquette, breaded but mushy on the inside. GROSS! Perhaps if it was seasoned and fried crispy in lard I would have liked it.

          As a kid my mother always cooked the chicken innards and we kids fought over them. Mom usually kept the heart for herself but occasionally let one of us have it, so chicken hearts were a treat. And I love pate and liverwurst. I’ve had pretty good German blood pudding a couple of times as well.

          I LOVE sweetbreads but I’m scared to prepare them myself and I’ve only encountered them in very expensive French restaurants and I haven’t gone to any of those in many years.

          The farmer I buy most of my meat from had a calf’s tongue in the fridge this weekend, and some Puerto Rican friends loved it on sandwiches, but that’s another one I’d have to figure out how to cook.

          And ox-tail is something that I cook regularly in the winter. Makes a great stock for cooking leeks.

          Sandy wrote on February 28th, 2011
      • Correct. Weatherwax is thinking only of what a lean steak in plastic at the store looks like, it’s lean. You’re right that these healthy fats are only found in abundance in animals, not in vegetables, and that’s why they hunted & drew pictures animals in his cave paintings. Ever notice there are NO cave paintings of broccoli, asparagus, mangoes, papayas& bananas?

        Paleo man (Grok) did not just whack a leg off an animal for cutting into thin steaks & leave the rest, he took the bones for the fatty marrow, the brains for the same reason, all the other organs & all the visceral fats too, remember pemmican is made from fat.

        Pound for pound fat is a more compact efficient energy store, that’s why it has twice the calorie density of proteins & carbs, it’s the fuel the body is designed to run on, not carbs.

        andyinla wrote on February 28th, 2011
    • I believe the brains, innards, etc., are very high fat. The muscle/”meat” may be lean, but not these other parts. So I think its a question of which parts of the animal humans are reaching for.

      We are probably a lot more offal-phobic than Grok. Self-included.

      Catt wrote on February 28th, 2011
    • Our brains looooove fat. Thrive on it. And a diet low in fat will have to either be high in protein or high in carb. High protein means high glucose because you can’t use all that protein in your muscles if you go over the amount required for your lean tissue. High carb means high glucose because, look! Sugar! Ask Dr. Kurt Harris over at PaNu how lean game really is. Think about the carnivore’s habit of going for the old and the slow in the herd. That’s also usually the *fat.* We did the same thing. This obsession with lean meat is a recent innovation in our species history, so now we don’t hold out for the older and the fatter when we hunt–we shoot anything that’s legal, regardless of age.

      Dana wrote on February 28th, 2011
      • Our brain love glucose, not fat.

        We love glucose so much that a pregnant woman will get her energy from fat and leave glucose to the foetus.

        We do need lots of fat though.

        JP wrote on February 28th, 2011
        • Our brains love Ketone bodies.
          Every cell in your body utilizes glucose ***ONLY if you feed it glucose***, the body prefers fat. Fats are pretty tricky, not as straightforward as cholesterol. That is because sometimes fats can be used to make cholesterol, too. But this only happens when carbs are present. If one is following a diet with more fat and cholesterol (notice I did not use the term, high) and low carbs (notice I did not say no carbs), the body will use fat for fuel, cholesterol will be converted to very useful substances and there will be no extra carbs around to make any more fat or cholesterol.
          There is this myth which has been propagated that the body prefers to use sugar for energy. This is not true. Guyton’s Textbook of Medical Physiology states, “Almost all the normal energy requirements of the body can be provided by oxidation of the transported free fatty acid without using any carbohydrate or protein.” What this statement means is that the body can use free fatty acids, that is, a single triglyceride, for fuel. It is also widely claimed that our brain cells prefer carbs for fuel. Again, this is wrong. Our brains prefer to use molecules called ketone bodies for its energy source. Interestingly enough, the byproduct of free fatty acid breakdown is ketone bodies.
          So let us put this all together. When we eat fat it is transformed, pretty quickly I might add, to another fat, which finds its way into our cells. It will be stored or used for fuel, all depending on the presence of carbs. Have a high carb presence and not only will the fat be stored, but we will make cholesterol out of it as well. Low carb presence means the fat will be used for fuel, thus leaving very little for storage or cholesterol production. So again, low fat, low cholesterol dieting is NOT the way to go. Unless, of course, you want to gain weight and make more cholesterol and get fat, have a heart attack, or develop type 2 diabetes. Yeah, I didn’t think so. http://www.drjamescarlson.com/content.aspx

          andyinla wrote on February 28th, 2011
    • No, just the opposite, the lean muscle tissues are lean, but because they are early man placed a premium on the animal’s fats & would take ALL of those also. Because of the scarcity of fats in vegetation, animal fats were HIGHLY prized, it’s one of the main reasons they hunted. Why hunt if you can get all you need from plants?

      So just where do you & people that believe this low fat paleo diet myth come up with the idea that animals are “lean”, or that our ancestors would only take the lean meats & ignore & discard the fats? Have you people never hunted or gutted & dressed out a deer or any other animal in your entire life??
      The fat on an animal depends on the time of year, if you take an animal in the early spring when they’ve been partially living off their stored body fats they will be leaner than if you kill one just BEFORE winter. That’s one of the reasons hunting season is in the fall, and for disease protection.

      Have you also never heard of rabbit starvation caused by an all protein, no fat diet? Look it up, and go hunting once in your life. Since death is the outcome of a low & NO fat diet, a high fat diet is actually primal and actually the best practice over the long term for peak health, fitness & survival.

      andyinla wrote on February 28th, 2011
    • If you eat both a reduced carb and a reduced fat diet, that leaves you with a whole mess of protein. Guess you could eat fiber till you crap like a hippopotamus ….

      Really if you are only going to eat 100g-150g of carbs a day you are necessarily going to have to eat more fat than the conventional wisdom would have you eat.

      I eat 200g of protein a day cause I weight train a lot but for most people that’s too much.

      rob wrote on February 28th, 2011
  4. Hi Mark — check out this related article entitled “How the diabetes-linked ‘thrifty gene’ triumphed with prejudice over proof” from the Sat edition of our national daily newspaper.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/how-the-diabetes-linked-thrifty-gene-triumphed-with-prejudice-over-proof/article1921859/?utm_medium=Feeds%3A%20RSS%2FAtom&utm_source=Health%20&%20Fitness&utm_content=1921859

    Greg Basky wrote on February 28th, 2011
  5. I’ve been overweight my entire adult life and I can say that the one “eating style” that consistently allows me to lose weight and keep it off is low-fat. I can eat more refined and processed carbohydrates than you can imagine and I feel great and maintain my weight. Once I start eating fat again the weight goes up.

    I’m also baffled by all the reports I see of people following so-called “conventional wisdom” who are fat and out of shape. I’ve known MANY people who followed “CW” who were in great shape!

    Having said all that, I’ve read enough to be convinced that so many carbs probably are harmful and with diabetes running in bothy sides of my family, that’s another factor to consider.

    Sometimes I’m not sure where this leaves me since I’m convinced that the only food choices that allow me to lose weight are bad for me. Then I look at Mark’s food pyramid and realize that the forums are giving me a distorted notion of the Primal Blueprint. The whole botton layer is vegetables and fruits and if you look at Mark and his familiy’s diets, they aren’t eating bacon, butter and ribeyes numerous times per day. I ag

    Chris Lampe wrote on February 28th, 2011
    • If you really are losing body fat by eating low-fat, you’re still eating high-fat because all those fatty acids that got let out of your cells had to go somewhere.

      Have you checked your body composition, though?

      Have you also tried eating the fat without the refined and processed carbs?

      Dana wrote on February 28th, 2011
      • I’m working on transitioning to this style of eating right now.

        I’m convinced that eating along Paleo/Primal lines is the best diet but making the transition long enough to see if it works for me is tough. Low fat was very easy for me to adjust to….low carbs….not so much so. But, I’m giving it a go.

        Chris wrote on March 1st, 2011
    • To be clear, my diet is at LEAST 55% fat per day. Sometimes much more. And I have chosen to limit my fruit intake to no more than two servings per day (and sometimes none). You can go pretty crazy with veggies and still fall way below 100 grams carbs a day. Certainly below 150.

      Mark Sisson wrote on February 28th, 2011
  6. This is from the study, “The study was initiated when mice were 3 mo of age. Mice were assigned to either a normal chow diet (NCD) containing 16% kcal from fat, or an HFD containing 60% kcal from fat (Research Diets, Inc., New Brunswick, NJ, USA). Body weight measurements were obtained weekly.”

    I can send the entire paper (PDF, 7 page) to Mark if he wants it; I assume he has my email address via this comment.

    Steve wrote on February 28th, 2011
    • I’ve already sent him a copy.

      Tim wrote on February 28th, 2011
  7. I’m suspicious that our genetic “defect” that lets us go diabetic also wound up serving at least one positive purpose. It may be one reason that we adapt to cold climates so readily even though we’re an equatorial species.

    I’ve heard it said that having more sugar in one’s bloodstream makes one more impervious to the cold. Until we got real clever and figured out how to make warm clothes and how to make a cave comfy, we got cold a lot when we ventured north.

    That, and type 2 diabetes is *weird.* They can’t seem to get a handle on how to diagnose it, and the disease itself does no damage–only the sugar if you eat too much carb. And insulin resistance seems to happen for good biological reasons as well as in response to eating junk. For example, pregnant women become more insulin-resistant, and it’s thought that’s for the purpose of shunting more nutrients to the baby. I think that we go through varying degrees of IR throughout our lives and that it does not always mean we suffer from disease.

    Dana wrote on February 28th, 2011
  8. Haven’t read the article but are we certain humans are the only animal lacking this gene? I’m thinking of dolphins in particular since they show a natural prevalence of insulin resistance.

    SLS wrote on February 28th, 2011
  9. Does anybody know whether or not our canine friends have this same issue? That would be in interesting bit of knowledge which may make the case of the cause of this mutation and it’s consequences.

    Gdub wrote on February 28th, 2011
  10. “Perhaps major changes to our food, our activity, and our lifestyles that have taken place in the last hundred years are altering the way our genes interact with the environment? Just throwing it out there.”

    Heh, heh — there’s a familiar premise! Good one.

    Jenny wrote on February 28th, 2011
  11. Solution:

    Eat healthy (i.e. Primal :p) and exercise!

    Drama wrote on February 28th, 2011
  12. I just read some good news, in MHO.
    In Nevada, doctors are writing “nature prescriptions” in an effort to get families out into nature – hiking and communing with our environment. I say that is a wonderful idea vs. pills.

    Pam wrote on February 28th, 2011
    • Walking is the best thing for everyone.It reduces stress,anxiety,blood pressure,glucose levels,amounts of fat in our bodies,less aches and pains in joints and alot more.If I set around too much in the winter,my joints start to ache when working.Less computer time = good for us all.

      Tim wrote on March 4th, 2011
  13. I am sure the results of this will only get modern medicine to find some sort of drug that can mimic what we are missing genetically, rather than just telling people to quit eating shit that screws up their pancreas. This is sort of like cleaning out the gene pool, except it will take an extraordinary amount of time.

    Edward wrote on February 28th, 2011
  14. “Anyway, how come Neu5Gc production was deactivated in hominids? Where’s the advantage?”

    There doesn’t have to be any advantage at all and I would guess that there probley wasn’t. As long as the lack of Neu5Gc wasn’t determental for humans at the reproductive age, it could easily be nothing more than a random mutation that, because of our past diet and environment, didn’t harm us.

    Remember, evolution works purely on the basis of “good enough.” Any organism that survives long enough to reproduce is an evolutionary sucess, regardless of how flawed its genes may be when it comes to a long life. So as long as a trait does not confer a significant disadvantage to the organism, it will be passed along just as often as sucessful traits.

    Metamorphose wrote on February 28th, 2011
    • This is exactly what i was gonna write, good thing i read all the comments.

      Ill add to it though, that it could also be that this particular gene does not express itself until a particular age sets in…not necessarily in years, but actual biological age. Where your systems dont quite run optimally due to any number of reasons. Then this gene kicks and does what it does. Maybe its a Homo Sapien “Thinning the Herd” gene. As we get older and more banged up our systems start to fail, and this little bugger just speeds up the inevitable for us.

      So then perhaps we are only noticing it in the masses now is because of the drastic and more or less recent rise in average lifespan. More of us are around for this gene to act on now.

      Just brainstorming a bit….

      Shawn wrote on February 28th, 2011
    • This is the same reason that humans (and other primates) are some of the few animals whose bodies do not synthesize Vitamin C. We have the gene, but it is mutated and non-functional.

      While this can potentially be detrimental now, the surplus of vitamin C in the primate diet resulted in this mutation being neutral at the time. Just “good enough” is correct.

      Ryan wrote on March 1st, 2011
  15. My five penneth…what you do (site and lifestyle propogation) kinda disproves your hypothesis above does it not ?

    Sure we’re getting fatter and as sure as eggs is eggs we’re addicted(in the truest sense of the word ) to carbs but it seems many can jump off that wagon and try and live a contemp. paleo-type existance albeit getting on the carriage fairly often as well we’re addicts and we miss the sensation.

    Simon Fellows wrote on February 28th, 2011
  16. Just for the record, one can understand that complex life forms evolve from less-complex lifeforms via natural selection and accept that such a process explains us biologically, without subscribing to “philosophical naturalism,” which is the belief (not fact, not provable) that absolutely everything has a natural cause. That is more in the area of philosophy instead of science. There are evolutionary biologists who are Christians or at least theists. The former head of the Human Genome Project is a Christian.

    Brad wrote on February 28th, 2011
    • If something has no known cause, the idea that it might have a natural cause is the simplest and thus most likely hypothesis.

      For example, I’d guess that it was squirrels that raided my bird feeder, rather than imaging that it could have been miniature nut-eating unicorns.

      Tim wrote on March 1st, 2011
      • Occham’s Razor says the simplest answer is likely the best, without reference to how natural that answer is.
        Besides, how can we be sure unicorns of any size are unnatural?

        Lauren wrote on June 6th, 2011
  17. Interesting…. I (as are most humans I think) am more of an instant gratification person – eating good food that doesn’t make me feel shaky and weak, exercise, fresh air, lower stress levels – all these things make me feel great and love life so that’s why I live that way, not necessarily because I want to avoid disease (although that is a great side effect).

    Dawn wrote on February 28th, 2011
  18. I just finished reading “Why We Get Fat” (Taubes’ new book). Insulin causes food to be stored as fat; eating carbs results in insulin production. Some carbs are worse than others, of course. People produce varying amounts of insulin after eating carbs due to genetic differences. Those who produce more insulin tend to suffer increasing problems from this as time goes on and the effects of carb consumption become compounded. The reason we evolved to not have the whatchamacallits Mark writes of, maybe it’s because we didn’t need to have them because we weren’t supposed to eat that crap anyhow? So, evolutionary wise, it was irrelevant?

    DThalman wrote on February 28th, 2011
    • The human body is very complex … who knows what else is affected by this mutation. Mark mentioned malaria and diabetes, but there may be many other areas where not having this sialic acid leads to changes which may be beneficial or not, depending on many other factors (including our diet).

      I agree with Mark in that it may not be that important after all. Even today there are many people(s) who don’t get diabetic on a high-carb diet – but that doesn’t mean that high-carb is “off the hook” as a cause for problems in other people(s).

      MikeEnRegalia wrote on February 28th, 2011
      • Certainly, high carb will still lead to fat storage, as it’s supposed to do. Prehistorically carbs were only really available in the summer allowing our ancestors to fatten up for the winter. They were also getting plenty of vitamin D by spending large amounts of time outside and eating fatty fish. Vitamin D reduces inflammation and inflammation is a major cause of disease, including diabetes. So beyond diabetes and fat storage, there are still plenty of reasons to avoid a high carb diet. There are enough diseases and disorders to go around.

        Sandy wrote on March 1st, 2011
        • “Prehistorically carbs were only really available in the summer allowing our ancestors to fatten up for the winter.”

          Our ancestors were hibernating through those harsh African winters?

          John wrote on March 1st, 2011
        • Indeed I was being rather Euro-centric. Ancestors still in Europe would have been getting much more vitamin D which would have counteracted the inflammation and would still have gotten a considerable amount of exercise. Regardless, meat was still highly prized. Sociologically it played an important part in community formation, as men hunted in parties and had to be able to rely on other members, and since fresh meat spoils without refrigeration there needed to be ‘rules’ governing the distribution of it. The high nutrient content would have also fueled our ‘expensive’ brains which gave us more time to do other things, like develop better tools, invent religion and art. The amount of work necessary to gather enough food to provide the nutrients needed is enormous.

          Sandy wrote on March 1st, 2011
        • I think it’s been a very long time since fruit played more than a very minor component of the ancestral human diet prior to cultivation, even (especially) in Africa. My major contention with the previous comment rather was with the idea that getting “fat” is part of the human activity/dietary cycle. :-)

          John wrote on March 1st, 2011
        • I don’t think many of our ancestors got fat. Certainly not fat in the way we see today. But just a little bit of extra padding. In colder climates a few extra pounds in the winter might have meant the difference between life and death.

          Sandy wrote on March 1st, 2011
  19. Wrinkles, I have them on my face. But not in my genes. I have to wonder, if a high-carb diet is pursued over the next few thousand generations, if we push through the diseases, the afflictions, will humans adapt to it and make it their own? It seems we’re only at the start of high-carb eating and those we sacrifice to the diseases of civilization are the martyrs in the crusade for a high-carb adapted humanity.

    Rufus wrote on March 1st, 2011
    • The way this would have to work is if those genetically predisposed to disease triggered by high carb diets died before leaving any, or enough offspring to affect the gene pool or if their offspring were too unhealthy to reproduce, making them a genetic dead end. Those who can afford medical treatment that keeps them alive long enough to reproduce will be able to beat that genetic pressure. I don’t really see it as being possible, being able to adapt as a species, because too much of human evolution is based on a healthy lifestyle. There are too many variables. It would take what’s known as catastrophic evolution, a huge and rapid reduction in the population which creates a new niche that is filled by those who just so happen to carry genetic adaptations which allow them to thrive, or at least out-compete others. We would need total nuclear devastation or a disease which those who thrive on a high carb diet are impervious to.

      Sandy wrote on March 1st, 2011
      • Can the genes one day say “hey man, we wont’ get sick off carbs anymore” and eventually those that were predisposed to high-carb triggered diseases will cease to be so?

        Rufus wrote on March 1st, 2011
        • Not without a huge toll on something else, I’m afraid. Those genes would have to stop being expressed in favor of something else, whether or not that something else is beneficial or not.

          I just recently read about a small group of people in Ecuador who are unaffected by diabetes or cancer, no matter their diet. They also had higher levels of insulin sensitivity, even though they also had a higher level of obesity. Sounds great, right? Only one problem, they all suffered from a form of dwarfism called Laron syndrome which causes a deficiency of growth hormones.

          The human body is basically an ecosystem. When you remove or change one thing in an ecosystem, say natural predators of deer, it causes a chain reaction of events. We may see these as good or bad but nature is indifferent. A new equilibrium will be sought, in the case of the missing predators, the deer will then overpopulate subsequently starve. There are innumerable relationships in the human body which developed gradually over billions of years. If you radically alter the environment (SAD diet anyone) you throw the whole ecosystem off. We’d have to become a different species, in other words.

          Sandy wrote on March 1st, 2011
  20. is there a way to heal the pancreas to enable it to replace the damaged beta cells..?

    richard wrote on March 1st, 2011
  21. Sounds simple enough to me, with out having arguments of evolution and creation!

    Take care of the body you have, eat right, live well cause you only get to live it once!

    Ditch the carbs, grains and sugar and GROK ON!

    The Real Food Mama wrote on March 1st, 2011
  22. I’ve never really understood this concept in science that you examine something as complicated as a human body, take a narrow and limited set of known variables, ignore the ones you can’t use or know, then draw absolute conclusions about the subject on this incomplete understanding? Then when you discover additional variables, change your conclusion once more, swear on your mother’s grave it’s absolutely irrefutable based on the ‘evidence’, until of course you discover another unknown and your conclusion changes once more. *smacks forehead*.

    Don’t get my wrong, I have full faith in the physical sciences, like landing a man on the moon, building a functional bridge. These things are relatively simple and understood. Based on mathematical reasoning (IMO “primal knowledge”) But applying that same simple reasoning to a biological system and expecting the same results seems incredibly foolish to me. My guess is that as long as we study the human body, nutrition, and biochemistry in this reductionist mindset, we will learn nothing new. Just more drugs, more sub disciplines of sciences and more publications in journals on obscure proteins and receptors no one cares about.

    It’s like, come on it’s a human body. If you even want to try to assess it mathematically then… it’s an incredibly complicated system of emergent properties, synergy and complexity way beyond the full comprehension of the human mind. It’s not a car with a broken engine. Why not just roll with the common sense mother nature gave us. Eat the right food, put the right fuel in your “car”.

    Brandon wrote on March 1st, 2011
  23. We all develop antibodies to Neu5Gc. However immune response may vary for different people. Like for some people immune response to incorporated Neu5Gc may exacerbate a chronic inflammation process.

    botox wrote on March 1st, 2011
  24. What it is that I am really wondering is whether or not our bodies really need a high level of fat intake as when we were in the cave man days we most likely ate a lot of lean meat (I’m hypothesizing here).

    Wanna Lose Weight? wrote on March 2nd, 2011
  25. On this Neu5Gc thing.

    People ask me all the time about it, and I don’t know what to say conclusively about it. However I see major flaws in the research on “red meat causes cancer.”

    First off, the subjects studied are generally eating CAFO-created red meat, and just the muscle tissue primarily.

    This red meat/muscle tissue has been fabricated by the animal out of primarily corn and other grain foods, not grass.

    The feedlot animals are not getting exercise to properly shed toxins from their muscles, and do not live a natural annual cycle on grass. They are fattened on grain whenever it suits the giant corporation, then slaughtered under extreme stress.

    The dairy animals are treated like walking catalyzer tanks. The Total Mixed Ration approach would make you vomit up your spleen; for a long time, the land grant colleges of agriculture and their funding Big Ag corporations were basically trying to feed cattle like pigs. And even less extreme feeding routines include things like shredded newspaper, pressed husks of oilseeds, and even cottonseed residue. Cotton is the single most sprayed and toxic crop in the food and fiber system, the seeds are not food (though are pressed and solvent heated for their oils, then those oils hydrogenated for frying).

    Immune response to Neu5Gc is going to vary by your genome. One certainly must keep an ear to the tracks on this.

    But I know one thing: when I stopped eating more than 70-100 grams of carbohydrate per day, every last health problem I had–all related to inflammation–went away. This was concomitant with eating only grain-fed meat and dairy, raised totally on pasture, and slaughtered or milked humanely. The last time my husband had a conventional steak (at a steakhouse for a professional meeting), he bloated up, got terrible gas, had a flare up of his arthritis, and got a bad headache and sinus inflammation. For him these are all signs of inflammatory syndrome.

    I didn’t have that response. We have different genomes (mine is Finno-Ugrian; his is Teutonic).

    Farmer Pat wrote on January 25th, 2012
  26. Re: TMR feeding of dairy cattle, some of you might find this interesting, in a vomit-inducing kind of way:

    http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id141a/id141a.htm

    Page 2 here should make you run screaming:
    http://www.uky.edu/Ag/AnimalSciences/dairy/extension/nut00158.pdf

    So if anything in red meat or dairy causes inflammation, cancer, diabetes, etc., I’d look first at feeding dairy cattle urea, feather meal, cotton seed with all its pesticides, and “thin slop.”

    Rather than the grass they evolved to eat.

    Farmer Pat wrote on January 25th, 2012

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