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Thread: Ethnicity and Primal Eating page

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    saturnfan's Avatar
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    Ethnicity and Primal Eating

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    I have an amateur interest in genetics and evolution and I have always disagreed with the notion that humans have undergone little to no evolutionary change over the past 10,000 years. As we know, this is one of the primary points of Paleolithic nutrition; since our genetic makeup is relatively unchanged, we should focus our attention and research on how our pre-agricultural ancestors ate. But have we truly undergone such little change? As a percentage of our genome I’d say yes, but we must remember that tiny genetic changes can actually have significant real world outcomes. How do you think the ability to digest lactose became a common factor in modern day Europeans?

    Which leads me to my point, I largely agree with the principles of primal eating, but feel it’s not specific enough to the needs of different ethnic types. When introduced to a Western SAD diet, I seem to observe a trend. Those who have practiced agriculture the longest collectively suffer the least from “Western diseases” (in comparison to other ethnic groups). In the USA, European heritage people suffer less than African-Americans, who in turn suffer less than Indigenous peoples. Do blacks and Native Americans eat more crap than Whites? I doubt it.

    Around the world we see similar trends. Australia is a good example. The Aboriginals suffer greatly from the introduction of refrained grains and alcohol, more so than the Europeans. Aboriginals have been living a Western lifestyle for only 200 years, if that. Europeans have 10,000+ years under their belt. Seems to me evolutionary selective pressures have at least begun a transition towards adapting to our new style of eating, and those who have less history with agriculture are more prone to the consequences of eating this way.

    I feel that non-whites (not including Asians) would actually benefit the most from a Paleolithic diet. Thoughts?
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    There are many factors influencing that trend you have observed, not least of which is standard of living. I believe Gary Taubes has touched on this in some of his lectures.

    Epigenetic changes can occur within a lifetime based on environmental influences such as diet. A lack of food during pregnancy can make for a baby who will be more prone to obesity.

    That 10,000 year distinction gets emphasized too much in the discussion of the Paleo concept. Even in the Fertile Crescent, 8,000 BC wasn't likely a time of booming agriculture. Most people in the region were still probably hunter gatherers or perhaps herders, perhaps adopting a limited amount of settled agriculture.

    Up until the last few present day generations the vast majority of humans did not live in cities. Cities only exist when there is an agricultural surplus, historically only possible with crops like grains. However, if you can imagine the diet of the average agrarian farmer living more than say 50 generations ago, they would have probably been surrounded by goats, chickens, cattle, pigs, etc as well as some rather low-yield cereal crops. I speculate that those living in cities perhaps subsisted on a more grain-based diet, but this group would have been a very small fraction of the total human population.

    What I'm getting at is that selective pressure for genes able to survive off of cereal crops would have been quite low, up until the industrial age.
    Last edited by goneprimal; 01-29-2013 at 12:37 AM.

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    I'm not sure if there's enough evidence that non-whites can benefit more from a paleo-based diet. I know that current native Americans, blacks in poor areas, and aboriginals in Australia do suffer very poor health, obesity and diabetes, etc, due to very poor nutrition. These people have little money and have relied on government subsidies and food which have been mostly provided to give the most empty calories for the buck (the Navajos and fry bread, for instance), therefore they've been most hard hit by poor health, but isn't that true of all very poor people? Rural whites in Mississippi and poor southern states experience much of the same problems.
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    It's a good thought process. The problem with your argument is that the majority of genetic variability isn't correlated with race/ethnicity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichMahogany View Post
    It's a good thought process. The problem with your argument is that the majority of genetic variability isn't correlated with race/ethnicity.
    This....other than melatonin to accommodate differences in sun exposure for making vitamin D and such there is very little difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichMahogany View Post
    It's a good thought process. The problem with your argument is that the majority of genetic variability isn't correlated with race/ethnicity.
    Again, small genetic differences can have significant real world outcomes. The fact that we share most of our genetic data with everybody else doesn’t mean that differences do not exist. I have never heard of a European getting sickle cell disease, unless his great-great grandfather was African and no one told him. While it’s politically correct to believe that humans have little to no differences, it’s extremely naive and makes no evolutionary sense.

    I wonder how a forensic scientist can identify the race/ethnicity of a human with 99% accuracy from a bone fragment? Odd right?
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    Quote Originally Posted by saturnfan View Post
    Again, small genetic differences can have significant real world outcomes. The fact that we share most of our genetic data with everybody else doesn’t mean that differences do not exist.
    Differences sure do exist. I never argued otherwise. I argued that they exist MOSTLY across ethnicities/races rather than between ethnicities/races.

    Quote Originally Posted by saturnfan View Post
    I have never heard of a European getting sickle cell disease, unless his great-great grandfather was African and no one told him.
    Add enough "greats" and everybody's great (great, great, etc) grandfather was African.

    Quote Originally Posted by saturnfan View Post
    While it’s politically correct to believe that humans have little to no differences, it’s extremely naive and makes no evolutionary sense.
    Did I say "Most genetic variability must exist across races rather than between because it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside?" Not sure where political correctness enters the discussion. I was talking about actual, scientifically measured variability of genetic data and nothing else.

    Quote Originally Posted by saturnfan View Post
    I wonder how a forensic scientist can identify the race/ethnicity of a human with 99% accuracy from a bone fragment? Odd right?
    How's that straw man coming along? Ready for hanging? For posterity's sake, here's a mediocre, but quote-heavy summary of Richard Dawkins's view on the subject.

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    I have dealt with some of these issues before, but I feel it’s my fault for bringing up a racial issue since it was bound to cause a stir. The link you sent me doesn’t refute anything, it just paraphrases some statements out of the Ancestor’s Tale (which I have read) and uses the word racism a few times. That still doesn’t answer how a forensic scientist can identify the race and sex of an individual from a small amount of data. But it really isn’t that difficult to understand why.

    As for the Out of Africa theory, it is the most popular but has nothing to do with what I said about sickle cell. Sickle cell is an evolutionary adaption to ward off malaria. Europeans can’t get the disease unless they have a recent African ancestor.
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    But before this spirals out of control, why don’t we stay on topic. If you want to refute my theory on primal nutrition for non-whites, link to me articles or something for a discussion. But I suppose if you fundamentally disagree with the point that nutritional differences could exist at all, then I guess we won’t get far.
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    Quote Originally Posted by saturnfan View Post
    But before this spirals out of control, why don’t we stay on topic. If you want to refute my theory on primal nutrition for non-whites, link to me articles or something for a discussion. But I suppose if you fundamentally disagree with the point that nutritional differences could exist at all, then I guess we won’t get far.
    Why is the onus on the refuter when you're the one making an exceptional claim? I accept that nutritional differences could exist, and in the case of lactose tolerance, we even have an example (most Asians = not lactose tolerant, most northern euro whites = lactose tolerant).

    But if you want to claim, despite the widely accepted fact that the vast majority of genetic diversity is not correlated to race, that there are genetic reasons for different dietary needs among different races or ethnic groups, present some actual evidence to that effect.

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