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Food for caucasians?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 29, 2011 at 2:39 PM

This question might sound "racist".. but it's not. Since I am Caucasian guy, I was wondering what my ancestors ate. I have discovered that I cannot handle nuts. Every time I eat them... I explode the next day. Anyways my father is from Israel (his family moved from Europe when Israel become a nation). My mother is as white as can be from Texas. So Im going to take a wild guess and say I am essentially European. (I know it all started in Africa). So waht did white europeans eat? It can't be nuts... my body cannot handle it. Was it mostly meat? some vegies?

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on January 30, 2011
at 07:21 PM

@Elizabeth -- your initial comments suggesting that Bronson's question is veiled racism, while well-intentioned, have a chilling effect on conversation on PaleoHacks. Bronson is merely curious about what differences there might be in diet between different heritages.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on January 30, 2011
at 03:01 PM

Eva, it may be true that there are people with metabolic disturbances that dont' show any blood glucose problems. I don't know if starch is a problem for these people -- and I doubt it is. Glucose toxicity can contirbute to diabetes, but probably only after there is already beta cell damage. Regarding weight management, I would be sruprised if starch raised the "set point," thinking that more dependent on (i) pufa overconsupmtion and imbalance, (ii) fructose overconsupmtion, and (iii) micronutrient starvation.

296b837795beec2ea6bfe5598e773a7e

(354)

on January 30, 2011
at 02:01 PM

Haha thanks Paleo Mom.. these guys are getting a little too serious about the "race" thing. I think it makes perfect sense... some people adapted to certain environments and ate certain foods for a long time. Does that have an affect? How long does it take to adapt to a certain diet..?

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 30, 2011
at 06:43 AM

Starch is also a prob for most of those trying to lose weight, even if blood sugar control appears fine. ALthough I suspect that weight gain itself, if a lot, is already a sign of some kind of metabolic imbalance, even if it does not appear to show up specifically with blood sugar control issues.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 30, 2011
at 06:39 AM

Rock, yes I suspect for many less than ideal foods and practices, there exists somewhere a tipping point past which the side effects become more serious very rapidly. The prob is currently, we don't really know the tipping point until after we have already passed it.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on January 30, 2011
at 05:09 AM

Jay, first, you stole my screen name. Second, the word "race" means what most people think it means - black, white, asian. These are general groupings, not precise scientific terms. Do you own research if you want more precision. Or, ask for more detail.

252ed9194eb033228513ddea9ddab012

(75)

on January 30, 2011
at 03:34 AM

Elizabeth and Yoannah, so you think that there are no differences between how Africans, Caucasians and Ameri-Indians should eat?

A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

(4896)

on January 30, 2011
at 03:03 AM

I add to the discussion, "race" is a social construction, not biological. It's worth reading the statement on it published by American Anthropological Association.

E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on January 30, 2011
at 02:47 AM

I agree - the diet of my Lithuanian ancestors (cabbage, fish, root vegetables, mushrooms, blood, tongue and more offal in general) was very different than my German ancestors (more starch with noodles) or my Scotch-Irish ancestry (besides haggis and potatoes, I have no idea what they ate). I think this is more about evolutionary ethnicity/geographical availability of foods over "race" which is very general. Even Africa is a MASSIVE continent and the ethnicities across it must be vast.

E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on January 30, 2011
at 02:33 AM

One of the things I've been thinking about is that people with deeper roots to the Americas, where corn has been cultivated for a very, very long time, might be more tolerant of corn through genetic adaptation. That said, it's high in the glycemic index and we don't live the kinds of lives our ancestors did. It can also mean that while our ancestors tolerated something in their diets for a long time doesn't mean it was good for them.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on January 30, 2011
at 12:13 AM

Even though casein might be bad, there are good factors as well, especially in the fat and in raw dairy. Just becuase there's one bad compound doesn't mean it's entirely bad. For example, eggs have O6, but they also have a ton of nutrients.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on January 30, 2011
at 12:06 AM

@elizabeth, thats fine- im not arguing whether races are a scientific fact or fiction. its a moot point in terms of racism as a social issue, which certainly does exist. im just letting the original poster know that his question is not a racist one.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on January 29, 2011
at 11:53 PM

Using the word "race" to describe these predictive genetic differences is really dubious. I don't disagree with your basic premise, but being more precise about your groupings would help a lot - not because it's politically correct, but because it's factually correct.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on January 29, 2011
at 11:49 PM

I also don't agree about that dairy is necessarily suboptimal. There are just too many populations that provide exceptions to that rule, and in a spectacular fashion - often making dairy an inextricable staple.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on January 29, 2011
at 11:46 PM

Not to mention that individual and recent familial genetic variation overrides whatever racial similarities we might have by many times over.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on January 29, 2011
at 11:45 PM

I don't agree that it's totally genetically "meaningless" only because how we define race in America today has very very vague associations to populations that lived in the same geographic area for long periods of time - thus likely accumulating some genetic similarities. But there are much better genetic groupings, such as simple geographic origin for one. The correlation to race is weak, at best, and what a "race" is has changed dramatically with time, place, and circumstance. Take a look at what race means in Brazil, and you'll get a sense of how truly silly the whole concept is.

0bcefaa82dc94f93ce705f86e235f335

(1591)

on January 29, 2011
at 11:34 PM

Akd - There in fact are no "races" as defined by genetics. Culturally and socially we may choose to define people racially (or people my choose to identify as a particular race), but there is no scientific basis for it.

0bcefaa82dc94f93ce705f86e235f335

(1591)

on January 29, 2011
at 11:32 PM

Travis - You may choose to call it "queer" - but it's scientifically accurate. Here's another link: http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/minorities.shtml

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on January 29, 2011
at 09:40 PM

your question is not racist. pointing out the fact that different races exist is not racist.

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on January 29, 2011
at 07:48 PM

Each one knows what is best for him/her but still casein is not a good thing for anybody. I do have cream though because it basically has no casein.

Fe9564da32d84d7213ef2a203f97de48

(279)

on January 29, 2011
at 07:32 PM

I agree about better adjustment to dairy but not suboptimal part. It looks to me that for some people dairy is part of optimal diet.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on January 29, 2011
at 07:03 PM

"Race is genetically meaningless" is a queer statement indeed.

Medium avatar

(39831)

on January 29, 2011
at 07:03 PM

"Race is genetically meaningless" is queer statement indeed.

0bcefaa82dc94f93ce705f86e235f335

(1591)

on January 29, 2011
at 05:52 PM

There are two links there; they look like they run together. Sorry.

0bcefaa82dc94f93ce705f86e235f335

(1591)

on January 29, 2011
at 05:51 PM

If you ever have to say "This might sound racist" - just stop there. Please educate yourself: Race is genetically meaningless. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_genetics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancestry_and_health#Race_and_genetic_biomedical_research

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8 Answers

4
E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on January 30, 2011
at 02:42 AM

While we're all of the same species and can interbreed, there is genetic variation based on genetic ancestral pools. This is why celiac disease is more prominent in those descending from N. European climes (although exists everywhere else), a certain type of breast cancer is more prominent among ethnic Jews, sickle cell anemia is more prominent among blacks, etc. So, in that sense, it's not "racist" to ask "What did my ethnic ancestors eat, and were they doing so for long enough that it may affect my tolerance to certain things?" but nut allergies are very common among any culture, ethnicity or race. In fact, any of us can become allergic to anything, and genetics appears to play little role (as just one example, only 65% of identical twins in this study: http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/biology/b103/f03/web3/m1teicher.html both shared the reaction, but not necessarily the same reaction). More: http://www.usariseup.com/focus-health/allergies-have-no-respect-racial-or-ethnic-origin

Tree nuts are found all over the world. This would suggest that they're found in all cultures. So while the nature of the question isn't racist, it's not relevant to dietary restrictions or what may or may not be good for you. many of us believe that allergies that are becoming more and more common these days is because we're exposed to and full of so many synthetic chemicals that our bodies are very confused.

4
Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

on January 29, 2011
at 06:10 PM

For ANY ethnic background, our ancestors had fruits and vegetables for about four or five million years. Then meat and fish were introduced about one million years ago, and at about the same time, tubers entered the human diet. Only in the last twenty or thirty thousand years different groups of humans started to inhabit the colder areas, as in Northern Europe. One of the few relevant differences is that overall, Europeans and their descendants are better adjusted to dairy (which is still suboptimal for everybody). Short of that there are very few differences connected to ethnic background, since human DNA is extremely similar from one ethnic group to the other, in terms of digestion.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on January 29, 2011
at 11:49 PM

I also don't agree about that dairy is necessarily suboptimal. There are just too many populations that provide exceptions to that rule, and in a spectacular fashion - often making dairy an inextricable staple.

Ac1e55cf06c2180f4008ff01953d10dd

(3524)

on January 29, 2011
at 07:48 PM

Each one knows what is best for him/her but still casein is not a good thing for anybody. I do have cream though because it basically has no casein.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on January 30, 2011
at 12:13 AM

Even though casein might be bad, there are good factors as well, especially in the fat and in raw dairy. Just becuase there's one bad compound doesn't mean it's entirely bad. For example, eggs have O6, but they also have a ton of nutrients.

Fe9564da32d84d7213ef2a203f97de48

(279)

on January 29, 2011
at 07:32 PM

I agree about better adjustment to dairy but not suboptimal part. It looks to me that for some people dairy is part of optimal diet.

4
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 29, 2011
at 04:01 PM

I think people of each race tend to do better on the foods their ancestors ate because their ancestors had to survive on that food or die. However, there will be a lot of epigenetic variation even within any single geographical group. Also, seems unlikely that if your mother is white, she is actually FROM Texas genetically, unless she has a lot of native american hidden in her. The problem is that Europe is a big place with greatly varying weather and traditional cuisines. If you don't have more specific information than 'Europe' than it might not help you so much. However, I have definitely seen that some groups like native americans respond differently and often worse on average to western diets in general than do Europeans.

E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on January 30, 2011
at 02:47 AM

I agree - the diet of my Lithuanian ancestors (cabbage, fish, root vegetables, mushrooms, blood, tongue and more offal in general) was very different than my German ancestors (more starch with noodles) or my Scotch-Irish ancestry (besides haggis and potatoes, I have no idea what they ate). I think this is more about evolutionary ethnicity/geographical availability of foods over "race" which is very general. Even Africa is a MASSIVE continent and the ethnicities across it must be vast.

4
246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on January 29, 2011
at 03:04 PM

You may just personally have a problem with nuts... I really don't believe your race/genetics will have that much bearing (considering plenty of Caucasians eat nuts without issue). Also consider that Paleolithic Man is most likely, pre-race (i.e. man had not spread far enough to begin to macro-evolve racial characteristics)

And if you do have a problem with nuts, simply don't eat them. You won't be "not paleo" if you don't eat them.

To answer your question, northern european paleolithic man probably had limited root veggies (wild taproots, bulbs, rhizomes), fertilized eggs, and berries, but over 90% of calories from meat and meat sources.

1
A68f24168bc0de414a038037e287b581

on January 30, 2011
at 03:10 AM

there is much more genetic variation within "race" groups than between them. Dividing people into three (four? five?) races is simply silly if we talk about biology and diet and not sociology and culture. Our species is extremely complex, with shades of color (as that's the typical indicator) with no clear division. Using someone else's simile (can't remember the author though) - it's like trying to divide soup with a knife - no matter how we try to cut through it, it's pointless.

Migration through Europe took thousand of years. The small differences between let's say Polish, Spanish or Bulgarian cuisines are irrelevant. If someone knew for sure that he or she is coming from an isolated place, or a place of a very unusual resources (only fish and coconuts for example) that might be useful. But otherwise? I think it's not relevant enough to try and reenact anything. Figure out what works for you, that's all.

1
0adda19045a3641edac0008364b91110

(1146)

on January 29, 2011
at 03:52 PM

Does your race or genetics matter when choosing what foods are best tolerated. If I am Mexican, my descendants were a mix of Spanish and or Aztec. Does that make me better adapted to handle carbohydrate since the Aztec's main source of food was grain.

E7be2ce38158357f5dacae07b43d1b29

on January 30, 2011
at 02:33 AM

One of the things I've been thinking about is that people with deeper roots to the Americas, where corn has been cultivated for a very, very long time, might be more tolerant of corn through genetic adaptation. That said, it's high in the glycemic index and we don't live the kinds of lives our ancestors did. It can also mean that while our ancestors tolerated something in their diets for a long time doesn't mean it was good for them.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 30, 2011
at 06:39 AM

Rock, yes I suspect for many less than ideal foods and practices, there exists somewhere a tipping point past which the side effects become more serious very rapidly. The prob is currently, we don't really know the tipping point until after we have already passed it.

1
4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on January 29, 2011
at 03:01 PM

There are important differences in races in regard to a few important nutrients. For example, the ability to manufacture and maybe even the need and usage of vitamin D differs between races. Another example is choline and folic acid. Europeans have genetic polymorphisms that suggest they eat more liver, eggs, heart, and brain... (e.g., foods with more choline). Asians may be better able to use folic acid than europeans.

That said, I doubt your nut problem is related to your race. More likely, if you are detecting something real, it is an allergy.

Whites, like all races, also ate lots of Fish and starchy tubers. Starchy tubers, in fact, have been a principal part of all human diets, especially in the distant past -- e.g., for millions of years. (Use caution with starch only if you are already diabetic or prediabetic). So, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc. These approximate the types of starches available in your past but, to be clear, were not actually a part of your past.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on January 30, 2011
at 06:43 AM

Starch is also a prob for most of those trying to lose weight, even if blood sugar control appears fine. ALthough I suspect that weight gain itself, if a lot, is already a sign of some kind of metabolic imbalance, even if it does not appear to show up specifically with blood sugar control issues.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on January 30, 2011
at 03:01 PM

Eva, it may be true that there are people with metabolic disturbances that dont' show any blood glucose problems. I don't know if starch is a problem for these people -- and I doubt it is. Glucose toxicity can contirbute to diabetes, but probably only after there is already beta cell damage. Regarding weight management, I would be sruprised if starch raised the "set point," thinking that more dependent on (i) pufa overconsupmtion and imbalance, (ii) fructose overconsupmtion, and (iii) micronutrient starvation.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on January 30, 2011
at 05:09 AM

Jay, first, you stole my screen name. Second, the word "race" means what most people think it means - black, white, asian. These are general groupings, not precise scientific terms. Do you own research if you want more precision. Or, ask for more detail.

902a7cd8f96bbc917a04e92b1f49dbd7

(787)

on January 29, 2011
at 11:53 PM

Using the word "race" to describe these predictive genetic differences is really dubious. I don't disagree with your basic premise, but being more precise about your groupings would help a lot - not because it's politically correct, but because it's factually correct.

0
1acc4ee9381d9a8d998b59915b3f997e

(2099)

on January 30, 2011
at 02:47 AM

Perhaps good way to estimate what your way-back ancestors might have eaten...besides meat, that is...would be to get a couple or three good field guides to edible wild plants and mushrooms and see what grew in the areas that your ancestors are from?

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