Biological laws limit the kinds of organisms that can survive, but don't determine what those organisms are. At one time the earth had megalodons in the sea and dinosaurs roaming the terrain. Now the planet has us to deal with. Laws of nuclear physics determine how subatomic particles interact, but don't tell what particles will in fact interact where. Laws of gravitation tell how astronomic bodies are constrained to move with respect to each other, but don't tell which bodies are to be found in which movement patterns where.
The point is that starting with any situation of complexity, lots of different things can happen in ways that conform with known scientific laws. So what Paleolithic man originally faced 100,000 years ago clearly is different than what currently do. So does it makes complete sense to do just as they did and expect the same result? I think the blogosphere and everyone can virtually agree on the point that what paleo man faced is radically different than what we face today. Most point to our biology being the same now as it was 100,000 years ago. I completely do not accept this "paleo" concept because to do so completely ignores the reality that is epigenetics. And it has been going on for the last 100000 I am scientifically sure. So, is it possible that what was then has been altered even just slightly so that maybe would throw off what the paleoblogosphere really believes? What say you paleo Hacks? If we really are what we eat, and we don't know what we are eating, then do we still know who we are?
asked byThe_Quilt (25482)
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on April 24, 2011
at 03:43 PM
Epigenetic studies are going to teach us a lot of things that we'll find surprising. The current paradigm in evolution is that change is gradual, and it's the organism that survives the environment only, not that the environment changes the organism, but epigenetic studies are showing otherwise. This was the first study I read about which blew my mind on this topic, and to me, was a missing piece in the discussion of evolution: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090412081315.htm that clearly, the environment could alter a population.
I also agree that we have continued to evolve over the last 100,000 years, but I still think that mimicking the perceived diet is probably a good thing. I summed it up in another post, but basically, to me, that means minimally processed and my carbs come from veggies and occasional fruit. I've seen people at the grocery store with a cart full of bread, pop, Little Debbie cakes, highly processed low quality meats, stuff fried in seed oils and coated with fake stuff and dyes, and they actually believe this is food. Then they wonder why they are overweight, irritable, depressed, etc.
For me, whether or not it's paleo, optimal diet is minimally processed meats, fish and veggies. It's what makes me feel good and energetic and clear-headed, and that's what matters most to me.
on April 24, 2011
at 03:33 PM
When I first heard about Dmitry Belaev's fox experiment it was such an eye opener. The implications were that given a predominating influence, significant evolution (measurable and even visible physical changes) can happen in just a few generations as opposed to thousands or tens of thousands of years.
I certainly think we may be in such a moment in human evolution. The amount of foreign chemicals omnipresent today and other factors such as increased exposure to radioactivity and genetically modified/selectively bred food have never been a factor for humans as much as they are now. The world has changed very rapidly in the last 200 years and I imagine it's definitely affecting us.
on June 29, 2012
at 03:28 AM
There is a variety of information encoded in our biology, each with its own mode of transmission (inheritance) and plasticity (ability to adapt), for example:
- Genetic - eg single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), copy number variations (CNVs), etc
- Epigenetic - eg cytosine methylation, histone modification, etc
- Bacterial - the bacteria in our gut that influence our interaction with food
Genetic changes can take thousands of years to manifest but epigenetic changes can occur within a lifetime in the same individual and be transmitted parentally and grand-parentally. Gut bacterial enterotypes are largely determined during birth as a result of delivery type and weaning. Bacterial genetics are also subject to extremely rapid mutation.
Our current implementation of paleo only takes into account the dissonance between genetics and environment but does not account for epigenetics and bacterial genetics.
An ideal diet would take into account genetics, epigenetics and bacterial genetics.
on April 24, 2011
at 03:29 PM
Yes, this is a good point. We do not know all of the variables. I think we should eat as widely as possible to increase our chances of getting what we need. Obviously that range of food does not include processed foods, however, it is much larger than what strict Paleo offers. We can always find something negative about any food and if one factor determines that we should not eat it, then we would all starve. Paleo is too strict in my opinion.