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Thread: Are we really genetically similar to the paleo men and women?

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    Are we really genetically similar to the paleo men and women?

    10,000 years ago agriculture was invented and we started ingesting grains that we had never had before. From 10,000 years to now we have ingested a lot of novel foods in comparison to 120,000 years ago.

    Surely in that time the body has produced proteins and enzymes (which means altered genes as they are responsible for producing the proteins) to deal with the new foods.

    Therefore we are not identical to the paleo people. This seems obvious but mark sisson and other paleo advocates gloss over this point and tell us we are absolutely identical to paleo men and women when we really are not.

    Thoughts?

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    Sure, there is some adaptations.

    1) Small amounts of unprocessed grains do not cause negative reaction in most people. However, processed grains, aka bread and pastas have an immediate and profound impact on the appetite because of the components added to it in the last 100 years (a far cry from 100,000 years ago). We are absolutely not adapted to deal with that.

    2) Consuming unprocessed starch from grains and/or tubers leads to fast and significant weight gain when it is combined with fat

    3) Grains contribute little to the palate and nutritional profile.

    --> If you are trying to gain weight, consuming unprocessed grains is your choice. If that's not the case, dropping grains is a single easiest thing to do to control the weight and reduce it to the average weight range.
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul900 View Post
    Surely in that time the body has produced proteins and enzymes (which means altered genes as they are responsible for producing the proteins) to deal with the new foods.
    Surely you need to provide researched based evidence to back these claims up, why don't you read through all the references in the Primal Blueprint, do your own reseach to see if there is any evidence we have mutated to be able to digest grains better (note: that the presence of an emzyne that digest starch is not evidence that we should be eating half a pound of bread and pasta a day) then present a decent case.

    I mean surely the ability to use a keyboard and log on to a forum dosn't mean you have to be an idiot
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    Whether I am the same as a paleo person is really not affecting the dietary choices I make. How I feel is. In other words, not eating grains, not eating beans, not eating overly processed foods, avoiding most dairy (yogurt, butter and some cheeses don't bother me), all have done wonders for my IBS, arthritis, and bursitis.
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    I have been a fan of the site for a while, but have never joined in the forum. This topic left me unable to resist replying. I have a PhD in cell biology, so this is right up my alley.

    Natural selection will only select changes that increase reproductive success (more children). The likely reason that humans have not evolved any mechanism to deal with the harmful effects of grains is that these effects take their greatest toll on people's health later in life. If all of the downsides of eating grains happen after reproductive age (which most paleolithic people did not even make it past due to infectious disease and violent death), there would be no reason (selection pressure) to favor genes/alleles that alleviate the problems grains pose. They are high in calories, and in the short term, people would have experienced a huge benefit (reproductively) from eating grains just to get more calories and not starve. This is the same reason that humans have not evolved defenses against most cancers of neurodegenerative diseases – natural selection does not care if you die after you are too old to reproduce.

    Changes that have made their way into our genome in the last 10,000 years are a different story. For example, the lactose dehydrogenase (LDH) gene, which processes lactose in milk, was selected for expression into adulthood because people in their reproductive years clearly benefited from being able to get more calories from milk they collected from domesticated animals.

    So, we are not identical to paleolithic people, but the changes that have taken place in our genome are due to the need to compete with other people for reproductive success in the short term, and have nothing to do with health and longevity past normal reproductive age. I hope this helps to answer your question.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Scientist View Post
    I have been a fan of the site for a while, but have never joined in the forum. This topic left me unable to resist replying. I have a PhD in cell biology, so this is right up my alley.

    Natural selection will only select changes that increase reproductive success (more children). The likely reason that humans have not evolved any mechanism to deal with the harmful effects of grains is that these effects take their greatest toll on people's health later in life. If all of the downsides of eating grains happen after reproductive age (which most paleolithic people did not even make it past due to infectious disease and violent death), there would be no reason (selection pressure) to favor genes/alleles that alleviate the problems grains pose. They are high in calories, and in the short term, people would have experienced a huge benefit (reproductively) from eating grains just to get more calories and not starve. This is the same reason that humans have not evolved defenses against most cancers of neurodegenerative diseases – natural selection does not care if you die after you are too old to reproduce.

    Changes that have made their way into our genome in the last 10,000 years are a different story. For example, the lactose dehydrogenase (LDH) gene, which processes lactose in milk, was selected for expression into adulthood because people in their reproductive years clearly benefited from being able to get more calories from milk they collected from domesticated animals.

    So, we are not identical to paleolithic people, but the changes that have taken place in our genome are due to the need to compete with other people for reproductive success in the short term, and have nothing to do with health and longevity past normal reproductive age. I hope this helps to answer your question.

    This makes sense. The negative effect of grains is not seen until later in life, as disease takes hold. And you rightly make the comparison with cancer, which is the same thing. Humans obviously developed mechanisms to prevent cancer taking place (by and large) until we have aged quite a bit.

    However, the difference is that these grains have been introduced and the body has had to deal with them for 10,000 years. As such, you would expect the body to have developed novel proteins in order to be able to deal with them, (so that they don't cause harm until we reach reproductive age and beyond). So lets take a case study of a child born today. The child will eat grains from Day 1 and probably live to the age of 70 when he or she will die of health related issues (we can't say for sure these are grain related health issues but I would concede that dietary choices most likely lead to the death of the person). So essentially the body has coped with daily consumption of grains for 70 years. Could paleolithic people have done that? WELL THEY ACTUALLY DID! Neanderthals ate grains. But we are very different to the paleolithic man.

    As an aside, the paleolithic man was all over the world so his diet depended on the environment. Paleo asians ate differently to paleo africans and paleo europeans and paleo americans etc. So do we look at our genetic heritage to look at what our particular paleo ancestors ate and then replicate that?

    And another thing about dairy, do you really think paleo people didn't drink milk? I mean seriously, of course they drank milk. This is another con that the paleo gurus try to pull.

    The fact of the matter is, NEANDERTHALS ATE GRAINS, THIS IS A FACT

    So people should think for themselves about paleo and have some common sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by paul900 View Post
    NEANDERTHALS ATE GRAINS, THIS IS A FACT
    Font size 5. Well, now we know you are another wacko with an agenda. Thanks for stopping by.
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul900 View Post
    This makes sense. The negative effect of grains is not seen until later in life, as disease takes hold. And you rightly make the comparison with cancer, which is the same thing. Humans obviously developed mechanisms to prevent cancer taking place (by and large) until we have aged quite a bit.

    However, the difference is that these grains have been introduced and the body has had to deal with them for 10,000 years. As such, you would expect the body to have developed novel proteins in order to be able to deal with them, (so that they don't cause harm until we reach reproductive age and beyond). So lets take a case study of a child born today. The child will eat grains from Day 1 and probably live to the age of 70 when he or she will die of health related issues (we can't say for sure these are grain related health issues but I would concede that dietary choices most likely lead to the death of the person). So essentially the body has coped with daily consumption of grains for 70 years. Could paleolithic people have done that? WELL THEY ACTUALLY DID! Neanderthals ate grains. But we are very different to the paleolithic man.

    As an aside, the paleolithic man was all over the world so his diet depended on the environment. Paleo asians ate differently to paleo africans and paleo europeans and paleo americans etc. So do we look at our genetic heritage to look at what our particular paleo ancestors ate and then replicate that?

    And another thing about dairy, do you really think paleo people didn't drink milk? I mean seriously, of course they drank milk. This is another con that the paleo gurus try to pull.

    The fact of the matter is, NEANDERTHALS ATE GRAINS, THIS IS A FACT

    So people should think for themselves about paleo and have some common sense.
    deja vu. I think I argued with you on the Huff

    Life expectancy variation over time Life expectancy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    On the Huff someone posted a pdf about paleolithic people eating grains. The pdf was calling cattail a grain. Cattail is a grass but it wasn't the seeds (which are tinny) they were processing. It was the tubers which have to be pounded to get at the starch. It's a lot of work (I know because I've actually done it) gathering the tubers and processing them for the net calorie return. We questioned if it was worth the effort. I think the best and most efficient source of calories from cattail is the pollen.
    Cattail Pollen used as a Cake Flour - YouTube

    You can actually buy cattail flour online

    Cavemen Ground Flour, Prepped Veggies : Discovery News
    The food preparation tools were found to contain the remains of starch grains from various wild plants, including cattail rhizomes, cattail leaves, moonworts, the ternate grapefern, lady's mantle, burdock, lettuce roots, rye, burr chervil root, parts of edible grasses, edible seeds and more.

    Flour made from cattails -- which tastes a bit like the plant's distant cousin, corn -- seems to have been particularly popular.

    "Our experiments suggest that it is possible to mix this flour with water to obtain a sort of flat bread cooked on hot stones," Revedin said. "It is also possible that the flour was used in a mixed soup."
    Would I be putting a grain-feed cow on a fad diet if I took it out of the feedlot and put it on pasture eating the grass nature intended?

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    For LDH expression, the answer is obvious. It allows you to drink milk as an adult, giving you a caloric advantage over those who can't. This doesn't mean that dairy is healthy or unhealthy in the way we think about it. It just means that having access to extra calories in a time when calories were scarce gave people a big advantage.

    Grains are similar in that people who ate them had a huge advantage at the time (big pile of calories). The difference is that we didn't evolve a biological mechanism to digest grains, we developed technology to process and cook grains so that the biology we already had could digest them.
    I understand now. I found that argument confusing because of the similar advantage: access to calories & proteins. That's said we did develop technology to consume dairy by fermenting it and eliminating most lactose (and almost all if you consider cheese). However, we did consume fresh milk from an early age, and that is likely why we continued to consume fresh milk even when fermented products became available?
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    That makes sense. Why we insisted on consuming fresh milk is all speculation. My vote is on competition. If you slurp the milk down before anyone else gets it, you are guaranteed to get some. Waiting around for it to ferment or get processed takes time and cooperation. Humans are capable of this, but not consistently good at it.

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