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Why cant Humans Evolve to eat Grains?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created November 03, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Some people do just fine with grains and their genes are more evolved to them. Just like some people's ancestors consumed a lot of dairy and can thrive on it.

Also evolution happens A LOT quicker then people on here would have you believe.

I think most of you are wrong.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on November 06, 2012
at 01:53 AM

Don't leave us hanging matt! Is the first one a potato and the second one wheat?

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on November 05, 2012
at 07:39 PM

Doritos was the hardest thing to break. I still crave them.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 05, 2012
at 07:36 PM

Paleo has more than one point....it's complicated and sort of prickly....

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 05, 2012
at 06:25 PM

I can eat starches in moderate quantities but I'm not adapted to eating them far in excess of my daily metabolic needs. Stuffing myself with steamed rice and dry breakfast cereal was a ticket to high A1C.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 05, 2012
at 06:20 PM

Whether guts leak or not, stuffing them with Doritos, pizza and beer on a regular basis isn't good for them.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 05, 2012
at 06:09 PM

That's the thing, non-paleo foods aren't always so terrible in terms of nutritional profile.

Medium avatar

(379)

on November 05, 2012
at 05:31 PM

I don't know @Matt, which one is which?

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on November 05, 2012
at 03:04 PM

indeed, what is the point of paleo?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 04, 2012
at 11:38 PM

Agreed. Overeating grains (i.e. grains as dietary staples) is not the same as consuming a small to moderate amount.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 04, 2012
at 11:37 PM

Yay, reopened!!

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 04, 2012
at 02:49 PM

Hastily closed question. Boo.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 04, 2012
at 02:47 PM

Bah, nutrition profile BS… You tell me which of these is paleo and which isn't? http://bayimg.com/PafpjAaEI vs http://bayimg.com/PaFpkaaEi

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on November 04, 2012
at 02:27 PM

are you asking me why i'm on this website?

1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

(10904)

on November 04, 2012
at 11:38 AM

What's the point of Paleo if you don't think grains are a NAD?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 04, 2012
at 01:50 AM

Must every paleo-sceptical question have to be instantaneously closed? Surely you can invest a bit more effort than clicking on vote to close. Is it intellectual ineptitude or fear? This is precisely what gives the paleo movement the taint of zealotry and inhibits more newcomers from experiencing its health benefits.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 04, 2012
at 01:47 AM

Must every *paleo-sceptical* question have to be instantaneously closed? Surely you can invest a bit more effort than clicking on vote to close. Is it intellectual ineptitude or fear? This is precisely what gives paleo the paleo movement the taint of zealotry.

A08b210e4da7e69cd792bddc1f4aae4b

(1031)

on November 03, 2012
at 09:55 PM

Humans can evolve to eat grains; there is nothing to stop the mutate, select, propagate cycle. I just choose not to be part of evolution's ongoing experiment, I can't spare the time and besides it gives me gas!

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on November 03, 2012
at 08:51 PM

I agree with basic gist of Robin's answer. Better adaptation to wheat doesn't mean full adaptation. Though I think some evolutionary traits have brought specific individuals pretty close.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on November 03, 2012
at 08:43 PM

thhq, I believe people do adapt to overeating starch, e.g. by acquiring adaptations favoring storing it as fat or increasing metabolic rate to prevent the cellular energy toxicity it can otherwise cause. See the studies on high salivary amylase occurring in higher starch populations, or how this allows for better glycemic control (leading to attenuated elevations in blood sugar). I think this is one good example of why some populations may be better adapted to starch, which would apply to wheat.

Medium avatar

(379)

on November 03, 2012
at 08:00 PM

OP, Are you anti-paleo? Seems like it.

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on November 03, 2012
at 06:02 PM

Yeah, gut health is huge.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 03, 2012
at 03:04 PM

Starch is starch without regard to genetics. No one ever adapts to overeating it, whether it comes from wheat, rice or sweet potatoes.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 03, 2012
at 03:00 PM

We have not adapted to resist mass marketing. They tell us to overeat and we overeat.

F694fc245d03b64d6936ddb29f4c9306

(2613)

on November 03, 2012
at 02:30 PM

And do you think that evolution optimizes for all variables simultaneously? Isn't it possible that agrarians sacrificed some personal health for the sake of larger communities? Wouldn't this make agrarian societies more powerful than hunter-gatherers? Could this cause genetic drift that doesn't optimize for the health of the individual? Do I know how to make statements instead of questions?

F694fc245d03b64d6936ddb29f4c9306

(2613)

on November 03, 2012
at 02:25 PM

And how fast does evolution happen, exactly?

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10 Answers

8
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 03, 2012
at 01:30 PM

I don't necessarily think it's better genes that enable some folks to consume wheat/grains with no issue. I think it's more likely better gut health. A non-leaky gut is not going to have the same response to wheat as a leaky gut will.

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on November 03, 2012
at 06:02 PM

Yeah, gut health is huge.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 05, 2012
at 06:20 PM

Whether guts leak or not, stuffing them with Doritos, pizza and beer on a regular basis isn't good for them.

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on November 05, 2012
at 07:39 PM

Doritos was the hardest thing to break. I still crave them.

7
2e777bbcd49262eb31a24f821abec6bc

(1974)

on November 03, 2012
at 03:58 PM

I don't really think most people today have a major problem with grains. I think the problem is that most people today eat grains as 75% of their diet.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 04, 2012
at 11:38 PM

Agreed. Overeating grains (i.e. grains as dietary staples) is not the same as consuming a small to moderate amount.

7
0b7c3e7fd96005f0b2dfd781e512fc2e

(1237)

on November 03, 2012
at 02:17 PM

Humans have adapted to eat grains and tolerate gluten. But just because we are able to eat them, doesn't mean they are or will be optimal for good health. The nutrient profiles speak for themselves.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 04, 2012
at 02:47 PM

Bah, nutrition profile BS… You tell me which of these is paleo and which isn't? http://bayimg.com/PafpjAaEI vs http://bayimg.com/PaFpkaaEi

Medium avatar

(379)

on November 05, 2012
at 05:31 PM

I don't know @Matt, which one is which?

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on November 06, 2012
at 01:53 AM

Don't leave us hanging matt! Is the first one a potato and the second one wheat?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 05, 2012
at 06:09 PM

That's the thing, non-paleo foods aren't always so terrible in terms of nutritional profile.

4
Medium avatar

on November 03, 2012
at 07:53 PM

A great article to read which explains our slow adaptation to grains:
http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/07/why-arent-humans-adapted-to-grains.html

Quote from article:

It???s not that humans haven???t adapted to eating grains; it???s that humans haven???t fully adapted to eating grains. Evolutionary pressure is relatively low because the health effects of grain consumption doesn???t change reproduction rates dramatically.

Your question has been asked before here:
http://paleohacks.com/questions/156411/evolving-past-the-paleo-diet

4
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on November 03, 2012
at 01:20 PM

I think it has to do with how natural selection works. If I start to get fat in my 30s and 40s that is way past my typical procreation age. So how would adaptation occur? A second order effect is that we are now in a world where the sick and obese can contribute to society at the same rate as anyone else so what is the purpose of removing those genes?

Genetic mutations, another form of evolution, have occurred, and will likely continue to occur to the point where most people can consume a moderate amount of wheat with very little negative effects (certainly not optimal).

But eating half a pound of pasta plus garlic bread plus meatballs with bread crumbs and then following it up with apple pie is probably a bit too much for evolution to take care of....

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 03, 2012
at 03:00 PM

We have not adapted to resist mass marketing. They tell us to overeat and we overeat.

2
366c23d69eadce094a2b22299c58a424

(2988)

on November 03, 2012
at 01:11 PM

It is not just a matter of whether or not we evolved to eat grains, it is also that modern (post 1970) wheat is not the same thing as ancestral wheat, nor is it prepared the same way -- and wheat, obviously, is the grain most people eat so it's the one I'm emphasizing here. Personally, I think wheat could be part of a healthy diet, and I'd eat small amounts of wheat every day if I had the time to buy and properly prepare (ferment) ancestral wheats (kamut, einkorn, spelt, emmer, etc). Ditto for oatmeal: if I had time to soak oatmeal for 24 hours before I ate it, I might eat oatmeal (although I can't say I really miss it). But I don't think the emphasis on grains in the SAD as a major source of calories is wise, and the wheat as grown and prepared here is almost certainly problematic.

There is a nice summary of the difference between ancestral and modern wheat here:

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-problems-with-modern-wheat/#axzz2B6QOByMa

I think we can all agree that we haven't had time since 1970 to "evolve" to eat this product.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on November 03, 2012
at 08:43 PM

thhq, I believe people do adapt to overeating starch, e.g. by acquiring adaptations favoring storing it as fat or increasing metabolic rate to prevent the cellular energy toxicity it can otherwise cause. See the studies on high salivary amylase occurring in higher starch populations, or how this allows for better glycemic control (leading to attenuated elevations in blood sugar). I think this is one good example of why some populations may be better adapted to starch, which would apply to wheat.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 03, 2012
at 03:04 PM

Starch is starch without regard to genetics. No one ever adapts to overeating it, whether it comes from wheat, rice or sweet potatoes.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on November 03, 2012
at 08:51 PM

I agree with basic gist of Robin's answer. Better adaptation to wheat doesn't mean full adaptation. Though I think some evolutionary traits have brought specific individuals pretty close.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 05, 2012
at 06:25 PM

I can eat starches in moderate quantities but I'm not adapted to eating them far in excess of my daily metabolic needs. Stuffing myself with steamed rice and dry breakfast cereal was a ticket to high A1C.

2
8af1e83ec3ea5a39f050baf362708a78

(253)

on November 03, 2012
at 01:09 PM

There is no doubt that there is a small group of people who have very serious and immediate problems when they eat any amount of wheat. Celiac disease is real, and wheat is very clearly the cause.

There is no doubt that there is a much larger population who have real, but less severe symptoms, when they eat large amounts of processed wheat.

And there is no doubt that there is a large part of the population who is insulin resistant, who have significant problems metabolizing large amounts of carbohydrates of any form.

Whether wheat or other grains are problematic, or will eventually be problematic, for the people who are not currently showing any symptoms, I consider unproven. It may be that their continuing wheat consumption will eventually cause them problems, or it may be that they have an ability to tolerate it that others lack. I have no way of knowing which.

But I know that I, like at least 25% of the population, don't metabolize carbohydrates well, and am a lot healthier when I restrict grains and other starchy foods.

0
Medium avatar

(2338)

on November 05, 2012
at 05:20 PM

i'm not so sure that you understand how evolution works. it takes A LOT of pressure over a very very long time. it's quite simply, really. i think that we haven't evolved to become optimal grain consumers because there hasn't really been a time where we faced any pressure to adapt to a higher grain diet. by the time we started consuming grains we were already pretty comfortable getting to reproductive age effortlessly so consuming grains didn't give you a better chance to survive to reproduce. you could argue that we are in the middle of evolving to grains which i would agree with. real food is getting phased out of humans diets rapidly and eventually when we rape the earth of everything good and are left with high fructose corn syrup and wheat we will face the pressure and we will evolve to be able to optimally consume grains. don't worry though we won't be around to see that though it's going to take a long time.

0
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 05, 2012
at 03:06 AM

Evolution occurs much slower than the OP believes. Most people have not evolved to do well on grains and their genes are not evolved to them. I think the OP is wrong.

Wow....statements without any sort of supporting evidence is AWESOME! I wish I woulda learned this trick earlier. THANKS OP!

But seriously.....Obviously the problem is a.) individual b.) overconsumption and c.) which grains? Even grains fall on a continuum of least offensive to most likely to cause issue.

Bottom lines are they are sub optimal and easily replaced. Testing to determine those who are effected is not yet readily available nor completely reliable. Removing grains causes no detriment, so in terms of risk/reward I see no reason to include them given their potential to harm.

0
2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on November 03, 2012
at 01:00 PM

indeed grains are not a Neolithic agent of disease. but afaik most grain products prepared and sold in the US are not adequately sprouted and fermented. not sure about other countries

and if some individuals don't respond well to gluten there isn't really anything else they can do.

1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

(10904)

on November 04, 2012
at 11:38 AM

What's the point of Paleo if you don't think grains are a NAD?

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 05, 2012
at 07:36 PM

Paleo has more than one point....it's complicated and sort of prickly....

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on November 05, 2012
at 03:04 PM

indeed, what is the point of paleo?

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on November 04, 2012
at 02:27 PM

are you asking me why i'm on this website?

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