5

votes

Are we screwing future generations by shunning certain foods?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created November 05, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Hi all:

On the back of this question: http://paleohacks.com/questions/159317/why-cant-humans-evolve-to-eat-grains#axzz2BLKpOg3U

I was reminded of the topic of this thread. As with any question, I merely want to play Devil's advocate. I feel that I've clearly outlined my position as pro paleo in the past, so this question is simply posed to see if anyone has a solid rebuttal to the theory.

If it takes nth amount of generations before we're considered adapted/evolved to consume a food or fulfill an activity, doesn't this generations (paleo advocates) reversal of this trend by willingly opposing grains a disservice to their following generations?

It may very well be the case that as we continue to buck the trend in shunning grains, and the rest of the population continue to consume them - nth generations from now our offspring will be considered the under-evolved beings. Assume, that as now, starches & sugars contribute the majority of energy, but proteins & healthy fats continue into scarcity. At such a point our offspring will face more of a struggle than we currently do in consuming grains in that there biological make-up will likely have evolved to tolerate grains less than we do now, as they haven't required such facilities for generations (thanks to the gap that commenced with us).

I appreciate that I'm putting this forward in a doomsday context where meats & fats are no longer abundant, and the stand that people take in the coming decades by voting with their purchases (or lack thereof) at supermarkets will dictate such a reality. But go with it for this particular topic.

After all, our ancestors ate meats - but not the same meats we eat today. Fowl, fish, pork, beef - what we mainly now consume are domesticated versions of what used to be a wild, leaner species. Though we seem to be coping just fine with this transition, and our digestive tract & overall health seems to prefer this over copious carbohydrate consumption. It could simply be the case that these changes to our meats are not as vast a departure from our norm as introducing grains in copious amounts has been, but if we were to continue rooting them out of our diets could it very well be that we could effectively leave our children unequipped to deal with a world further depending on grains?

026dde5c5ed48e30d006ac075410871e

(288)

on November 09, 2012
at 06:38 PM

Evolution happens on a population level, not an individual level. The only way you personally can ensure future generations can thrive on grains is to not reproduce if you're celiac or gluten-intolerant. Eating wheat (even if it make you feel crappy) doesn't somehow imbue your children with the ability to better digest it...

00cd3b6f51530a6832fcda1712edbec3

(2411)

on November 06, 2012
at 06:28 PM

Angst about wheat is much more than a cerebral struggle. Read this post — http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/2012/11/what-do-you-have-that-chimps-dont-have/ — about the universal effect that wheat has on the gut.

7a6529ea25b655132fe58d793f95547a

(2040)

on November 06, 2012
at 03:26 AM

As far as O and A it makes a little bit of sense as A blood type goes along way back like 20 million years and O is speculated to have evolved independently in humans and other primates. So I can see how O's would perhaps fair better at first when eating a higher fat/meat diet. I'm an A and I function well on a high fat diet it just took me a bit of time to adapt. http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/345987/description/Human_blood_types_have_deep_evolutionary_roots

E253f8ac1d139bf4d0bfb44debd1db21

on November 06, 2012
at 12:10 AM

More of these!.

D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

(2029)

on November 05, 2012
at 09:57 PM

I'm in the camp that takes blood type diets with a grain of salt (knowing there is little science to back up the details of the diet), but also with an open mind, knowing we only actually know of a little of what there is to know about the world. My experience has been that I, as an O+, do fair better on the hunter-gatherer diet as my blood type suggests, and don't gain weight readily with fat consumption, but I'm not as sensitive to grains as it suggests. I lost 40 lbs eating a butt-ton of grain-based carbs.

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on November 05, 2012
at 09:11 PM

if all those grains didn't cause rampant obesity 1000 years ago then there's no reason to think its contributing much to the modern epidemic

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on November 05, 2012
at 09:09 PM

if rampant obesity didn't occur 1000 years ago with all those grains then there's no reason it's contributing much to the modern epidemic of obesity.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 05, 2012
at 08:55 PM

Hitler was after all a vegetarian....

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 05, 2012
at 08:54 PM

And nada, be very careful with arguments about "surplus population".

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 05, 2012
at 08:49 PM

I've traveled a lot and have yet to see someone struggling with a bowl of rice, a plate of pasta, couscous, pizza or baguettes. Most of these people will never struggle with obesity and will outlive me. Angst about wheat is a cerebral struggle not a matter of survival.

00cd3b6f51530a6832fcda1712edbec3

(2411)

on November 05, 2012
at 08:10 PM

Your last statement, "This does not mean that grains are optimal, only that they are a cheap means of survival for most of the world's population." is very different from your earlier statement "Very few people in the world struggle with consuming grains." I completely agree with the former.

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on November 05, 2012
at 07:56 PM

a large population isn't exactly a good thing.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 05, 2012
at 07:44 PM

It's way beyond a given. Without grains there would be 6 billion less of us. Population is not increased by wars, dysentery, malaria, and famine. It is increased by eating cheap foods like grain. Example: the sustainable population of eastern Washington State was probably 10,000 for nomads, but farmed in wheat/cattle/corn/fruit/potatoes/sugar beets it nourishes millions. This does not mean that grains are optimal, only that they are a cheap means of survival for most of the world's population.

00cd3b6f51530a6832fcda1712edbec3

(2411)

on November 05, 2012
at 07:22 PM

Given what we know about the insulinogenic properties of grains, the role of insulin in diabetes and fat accumulation, and the role of gluten/zonulin in gut permeability, and the fact that 2/3 of the adult U.S. population is overweight/obese, the rampant diabetes problem here, the U.K., and in India, I think that your assertion, with a common factor being grain-heavy diets that "Very few people in the world struggle with consuming grains" is far from a given.

Bd271299b2d4d9b2e3da9c252fef058c

(2854)

on November 05, 2012
at 04:43 PM

cool, mscott, thanks for your input- I've read so much contradictory information regarding blood type and diet, it's hard to form any solid conclusions!

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on November 05, 2012
at 04:14 PM

Blood type polymorphisms are pretty much not correlated or regulatory at all to any of the genes which are actually suspected of or known to play a role in the variations of health response to different foods. And blood type itself has not been shown to influence food tolerance except perhaps for a few legumes. This is speaking as a type A who does not do well on grains.

Bd271299b2d4d9b2e3da9c252fef058c

(2854)

on November 05, 2012
at 03:47 PM

I'll do some more research and see what I can do... so happy to hear you think it's interesting, too!

7fb4e9fb1162999cdd5099fee49dd0a7

on November 05, 2012
at 03:26 PM

All these responses are fantastic, but this really intrigues me. This is the kind of response I was hoping to garner. I would love to know whether or not this has been studied further. Perhaps consider hashing this response out into its own thread?

F694fc245d03b64d6936ddb29f4c9306

(2613)

on November 05, 2012
at 03:04 PM

Three engineers were discussing what style of engineering best fits human evolution. "It's gotta be mechanical engineering. Just look at the movement of the joints," the first engineer offered. The second engineer responded, "No, it's electrical engineering. Think of how the brain controls the body via electrical impulses." The third engineer thought for a moment and then said, "No, no, no. It HAS to be civil engineering. Who else would run a sewer line through a major recreational area?!"

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 05, 2012
at 02:53 PM

Veganism, which is WAY more popular than paleo, hasn't made a dent in reducing meat eating. I doubt paleo will have much of an impact on grain consumption ever. Even in hundreds of years. Probably 500 years from now, doctors will still be putting people on statins and advocating a low fat diet.

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on November 05, 2012
at 02:24 PM

until it happens to me...

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 05, 2012
at 02:11 PM

Maybe a wry sense of humor. From the standpoint of the populations famine and epidemics aren't laughing matters.

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6 Answers

5
3bc294cb7745a5e99612ff886ca00101

(1186)

on November 05, 2012
at 02:29 PM

As someone with kids, I think we are doing them a huge favour by providing them with nutritious food, and the the knowledge to make good dietary choices for their whole lives.

The fact that people can eat what barely passes as 'food' long enough to have children and then feed that to them, does not mean we have 'evolved' or adapted to it. Most can survive it, with a host of associated health issues. I think the goal here is not mere survival nor survival of the fittest, and the best kind of evolution, in my opinion, is the passing down of knowledge.

5
Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 05, 2012
at 01:15 PM

Very few people in the world struggle with consuming grains. Any paleo dietary attempts to perform heavy macro shifting will not reverse this adaptation in 100+ years. Further, grain-shunning would have to be practiced by society at large, not just by a handful of idealogues.

The reason that there are 7 billion of us is because we thrive on grains, which are cheap and easy to grow. The current problem is obesity, which hardly suggests any maladaptation to digesting them.

I'm afraid you just have to settle for the personal benefits of paleo life.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 05, 2012
at 08:55 PM

Hitler was after all a vegetarian....

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 05, 2012
at 07:44 PM

It's way beyond a given. Without grains there would be 6 billion less of us. Population is not increased by wars, dysentery, malaria, and famine. It is increased by eating cheap foods like grain. Example: the sustainable population of eastern Washington State was probably 10,000 for nomads, but farmed in wheat/cattle/corn/fruit/potatoes/sugar beets it nourishes millions. This does not mean that grains are optimal, only that they are a cheap means of survival for most of the world's population.

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on November 05, 2012
at 09:11 PM

if all those grains didn't cause rampant obesity 1000 years ago then there's no reason to think its contributing much to the modern epidemic

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on November 05, 2012
at 07:56 PM

a large population isn't exactly a good thing.

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on November 05, 2012
at 09:09 PM

if rampant obesity didn't occur 1000 years ago with all those grains then there's no reason it's contributing much to the modern epidemic of obesity.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 05, 2012
at 08:54 PM

And nada, be very careful with arguments about "surplus population".

00cd3b6f51530a6832fcda1712edbec3

(2411)

on November 05, 2012
at 07:22 PM

Given what we know about the insulinogenic properties of grains, the role of insulin in diabetes and fat accumulation, and the role of gluten/zonulin in gut permeability, and the fact that 2/3 of the adult U.S. population is overweight/obese, the rampant diabetes problem here, the U.K., and in India, I think that your assertion, with a common factor being grain-heavy diets that "Very few people in the world struggle with consuming grains" is far from a given.

00cd3b6f51530a6832fcda1712edbec3

(2411)

on November 06, 2012
at 06:28 PM

Angst about wheat is much more than a cerebral struggle. Read this post — http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/2012/11/what-do-you-have-that-chimps-dont-have/ — about the universal effect that wheat has on the gut.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 05, 2012
at 02:53 PM

Veganism, which is WAY more popular than paleo, hasn't made a dent in reducing meat eating. I doubt paleo will have much of an impact on grain consumption ever. Even in hundreds of years. Probably 500 years from now, doctors will still be putting people on statins and advocating a low fat diet.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 05, 2012
at 08:49 PM

I've traveled a lot and have yet to see someone struggling with a bowl of rice, a plate of pasta, couscous, pizza or baguettes. Most of these people will never struggle with obesity and will outlive me. Angst about wheat is a cerebral struggle not a matter of survival.

00cd3b6f51530a6832fcda1712edbec3

(2411)

on November 05, 2012
at 08:10 PM

Your last statement, "This does not mean that grains are optimal, only that they are a cheap means of survival for most of the world's population." is very different from your earlier statement "Very few people in the world struggle with consuming grains." I completely agree with the former.

3
F694fc245d03b64d6936ddb29f4c9306

(2613)

on November 05, 2012
at 02:05 PM

Medicine causes so much genetic drift that it probably doesn't matter anyway. People with horrific dietary habits and life-threatening diseases can live well past the point of parenthood and even grandparenthood.

Also, if there's one thing you shouldn't overthink, it's evolution. It's bigger and smarter than we think we are, and it has a better sense of humor.

Medium avatar

(10611)

on November 05, 2012
at 02:11 PM

Maybe a wry sense of humor. From the standpoint of the populations famine and epidemics aren't laughing matters.

F694fc245d03b64d6936ddb29f4c9306

(2613)

on November 05, 2012
at 03:04 PM

Three engineers were discussing what style of engineering best fits human evolution. "It's gotta be mechanical engineering. Just look at the movement of the joints," the first engineer offered. The second engineer responded, "No, it's electrical engineering. Think of how the brain controls the body via electrical impulses." The third engineer thought for a moment and then said, "No, no, no. It HAS to be civil engineering. Who else would run a sewer line through a major recreational area?!"

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on November 05, 2012
at 02:24 PM

until it happens to me...

E253f8ac1d139bf4d0bfb44debd1db21

on November 06, 2012
at 12:10 AM

More of these!.

2
Bd271299b2d4d9b2e3da9c252fef058c

on November 05, 2012
at 03:16 PM

I've had this (totally unscientific) idea floating around for a while:

I've generally found the blood type diet to be accurate as far as who can thrive on grains and who cannot (ie. in my experience, blood type As seem to eat grains without fat gain or illness, blood type Os cannot). supposedly, blood type A evolved much later than O (around the agricultural revolution). BUT what i find super interesting is that A is dominant over O-- if an A and an O have a child (and both of A's parents were also As), then their kid will be an A. so... if my totally unscientific ideas are right, couldn't that mean we're evolving to be grain-eaters?

but, as long as I'm an O, I'll continue to go paleo without effecting evolution or compromising my health.

Bd271299b2d4d9b2e3da9c252fef058c

(2854)

on November 05, 2012
at 04:43 PM

cool, mscott, thanks for your input- I've read so much contradictory information regarding blood type and diet, it's hard to form any solid conclusions!

Bd271299b2d4d9b2e3da9c252fef058c

(2854)

on November 05, 2012
at 03:47 PM

I'll do some more research and see what I can do... so happy to hear you think it's interesting, too!

7fb4e9fb1162999cdd5099fee49dd0a7

on November 05, 2012
at 03:26 PM

All these responses are fantastic, but this really intrigues me. This is the kind of response I was hoping to garner. I would love to know whether or not this has been studied further. Perhaps consider hashing this response out into its own thread?

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on November 05, 2012
at 04:14 PM

Blood type polymorphisms are pretty much not correlated or regulatory at all to any of the genes which are actually suspected of or known to play a role in the variations of health response to different foods. And blood type itself has not been shown to influence food tolerance except perhaps for a few legumes. This is speaking as a type A who does not do well on grains.

D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

(2029)

on November 05, 2012
at 09:57 PM

I'm in the camp that takes blood type diets with a grain of salt (knowing there is little science to back up the details of the diet), but also with an open mind, knowing we only actually know of a little of what there is to know about the world. My experience has been that I, as an O+, do fair better on the hunter-gatherer diet as my blood type suggests, and don't gain weight readily with fat consumption, but I'm not as sensitive to grains as it suggests. I lost 40 lbs eating a butt-ton of grain-based carbs.

7a6529ea25b655132fe58d793f95547a

(2040)

on November 06, 2012
at 03:26 AM

As far as O and A it makes a little bit of sense as A blood type goes along way back like 20 million years and O is speculated to have evolved independently in humans and other primates. So I can see how O's would perhaps fair better at first when eating a higher fat/meat diet. I'm an A and I function well on a high fat diet it just took me a bit of time to adapt. http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/345987/description/Human_blood_types_have_deep_evolutionary_roots

2
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on November 05, 2012
at 11:43 AM

Given the population explosion that occurred after the advent of agriculture and increased grain consumption, seems to me that humans do thrive on grains, at least through their reproductive years. That could indicate that some degree of adaption as already occurred.

Billions of human-years of consuming grains, that says something about humans and their tolerance/adaptation to grain consumption.

-2
1b47e0a6d7984e33e59581d8364cc3dd

(716)

on November 05, 2012
at 08:33 PM

The better way in my opinion is to evolve animals to eat grains, so then we can eat the animals instead of the grains.

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