8

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Do you take into account your ancestry when you try to be flexible with your paleo diet (e.g. dairy, rice consumption)?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created March 27, 2012 at 11:12 PM

I know that strict paleo doesn't include grains, dairy or legumes. However, I think the majority of people here are flexible with what they eat. Butter and cream seem to be sacred gods on this site.

I was wondering if I could do some sort of poll about whether you take into consideration your background in deciding whether or not your body can handle a food. I know just trying it out is the best way to do it, but sometimes it's just hard to read your body, you know? Or should I just shut up and stop being crazy?

For me, I'm Asian. I'm the first person in my "line" to be introduced to milk products as my parents grew up without any of that (grew up in rural poor areas), and my grandparents and so forth never had it as far as I know. I LOVE dairy. I want to marry yogurt and kefir but I don't know if this would be "okay" for me to include in my diet. I don't THINK it causes problems but there is so much going on at once that it is difficult to isolate. Other people from different backgrounds (e.g. European) may have had milk, from either cows or goats going back thousands of years before the Asians.

Just curious. Fire away.

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e

(6244)

on March 29, 2012
at 10:58 PM

Do you mean immediate ancestry or that 1000's of years ago as shown by ancestry.com or the Genographic Project (National Geographic)? My husband's family has been eating wheat for thousands of years and he turned out to be almost celiac so I'm not sure I buy this hypothesis. That's not to say ancestry doesn't matter, but I think it depends what genes you inherit and how they are affected by epigenetics.

1ce9661622ba354c61669ffe900a01ab

(552)

on March 29, 2012
at 01:20 AM

What's a good place to do genetic testing? Online places?

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on March 28, 2012
at 07:34 PM

Loved your response. Thanks!

F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on March 28, 2012
at 05:23 PM

Hey Jenny -I am bit of a mutt myself, but my genetic testing told me my predominant genes. I heavily swung one way. Maybe that is a future option for you to get tested if you are bored and have money to burn.

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on March 28, 2012
at 02:59 PM

I would introduce 1 thing and wait about a week or so, maybe a little more. I posted this a while ago about tweaking your diet: http://paleohacks.com/questions/102646/how-much-paleo-tweaking-did-it-take-to-figure-out-what-really-works-for-you/102714#102714

0e395acc856e3353f3f5892e6b09b0e7

(1227)

on March 28, 2012
at 02:26 PM

Hooray for rutabagas!

0e395acc856e3353f3f5892e6b09b0e7

(1227)

on March 28, 2012
at 01:58 PM

I'm a Swedgian myself, Mom Norwegian-Dad Swedish. After swallowing the low fat nonsense for years, I now embrace yoghurt made with cream and full fat cheeses and best of all BUTTER! I tolerate all well and have lost weight over the last two years of enjoying animal and dairy fat. My Scandinavian ancestory seems to underwrite this joyful experience. I stay away from milk--it makes me feel icky.

Medium avatar

(10663)

on March 28, 2012
at 04:40 AM

I never had a reaction towards rice but my mom doesn't eat rice either so I guess I get it from her :P Yes, lechon is roasted over charcoal and after the abdomen is cleaned out, it can be filled with herbs and as far as I know, salt is the only seasoning that's rubbed on the skin. I've seen recipes that use molasses, ginger, etc. Some don't use any seasoning at all. But you get nice juicy meat and yummy crispy skin.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on March 28, 2012
at 03:57 AM

Thanks for your response. Why sweet potato over rice? Is lechon similar to those pork roasts they have at the Asian markets? What sort of seasonings do they use?

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on March 28, 2012
at 03:53 AM

Did you introduce something one at a time? How long did you let the "trial period" run to see how it affected you? I love yogurt but I'm kind of scared of it because it makes me feel "impure".

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 28, 2012
at 03:24 AM

Thanks Nance, that makes sense. Rutabagas don't seem high on the select-for-certain-traits list..

35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on March 28, 2012
at 03:14 AM

I'm not entirely clear whether I can "do" wheat or not. I have other health concerns that keep bread out of my diet 98% of the time, so I don't try it much. When I have eaten it it doesn't seem to affect me as much as corn... but I don't feel like I have a definitive answer either way.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on March 28, 2012
at 03:11 AM

I know what you mean about the milk! I have it in the fridge for my grandson but, even though I relish my home-made yogurt, I leave the milk alone. Maybe some day I'll make a glass of chocolate milk.

D811808d3bfa5aebc7a1bd971fb6375b

on March 28, 2012
at 02:28 AM

Same with me, jj. My ancestry is completely Northern European (I did the 23andme.com DNA testing and it pooped out Nordic/Viking and Northern European ancestry). I find that I am just fine with wheat. I don't have negative reactions even if I eat a ton of it (except maybe a pimple). Do you find that you can do wheat but just don't? I do know Northern European and Nordic ancestry was heavy on the bread and meat consumption.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on March 28, 2012
at 01:04 AM

Hi, Jenny J--my hypothesis is that today's sweet potatoes are no closer to the ancestral versions than the much-criticized modern fruits. I suspect rutabagas are a little closer to what we were more likely to find long ago. I sure react that way.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 28, 2012
at 12:36 AM

Hey, I find the same thing with rutabagas! Do you know why? I never really looked into it, I just find I can eat a bunch of them and be fine, but feel weird after a whole sweet potato.

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16 Answers

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96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on March 28, 2012
at 12:20 AM

I'd have to say many of my reactions to food would be compatible with a hunting/gathering ancestry. I hope you get lots of diverse responses.

Russian, Polish and Scottish are my dominant ancestries. Experimentation and use of probiotics has revealed that what I thought was lifelong lactose intolerance was incomplete/incompatible gut flora. I now consume butter, heavy cream and home-made Bulgarian yogurt without problems.

I'm one of those who had many chronic symptoms disappear when I stopped eating wheat, and I had severe negative reactions to eating wheat for a while. At present I don't have bad reactions but eating sprouted bread a few times generated mild GERD. No more sprouted bread, at least until I test again.

My preferred meats are definitely ruminants: beef, bison and lamb. I eat occasional poultry, preferring duck to chicken. I'm eating more fish than in the past but only because it's supposed to be healthy. I've always done well with shellfish.

I seem to be somewhat starch-intolerant. Rice doesn't work very well, nor do white potatoes. I can handle moderate amounts of sweet potato and I do well on rutabagas. I don't thrive on much coconut. A few pecans or pistacchios would be my favorite nuts but they'd be seasonal items only.

I thrive on citrus fruit and berries in moderate quantities. I also do well with melons. Plums, cherries and peaches are fine. I enjoy ripe pears more than apples but a barely-ripe Granny Smith or Macintosh is good. Leafy greens and generous helpings of non-starchy vegetables are great. Bananas are also fine but not as tasty to me as some of the others.

I don't like tea even with sweeteners, and coffee is only palatable with cream and honey added.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on March 28, 2012
at 01:04 AM

Hi, Jenny J--my hypothesis is that today's sweet potatoes are no closer to the ancestral versions than the much-criticized modern fruits. I suspect rutabagas are a little closer to what we were more likely to find long ago. I sure react that way.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 28, 2012
at 12:36 AM

Hey, I find the same thing with rutabagas! Do you know why? I never really looked into it, I just find I can eat a bunch of them and be fine, but feel weird after a whole sweet potato.

0e395acc856e3353f3f5892e6b09b0e7

(1227)

on March 28, 2012
at 02:26 PM

Hooray for rutabagas!

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 28, 2012
at 03:24 AM

Thanks Nance, that makes sense. Rutabagas don't seem high on the select-for-certain-traits list..

best answer

1
246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on March 28, 2012
at 05:50 PM

I am Northern European in Ancestry via Scotland and Wales (which in turn was more Southerly deeper European ancestry by way of the Celt, Scotti, Roman, Norman, and Angle conquests, frankly). There is a smattering here and there of Native American ancestry there, but I try not to use it to justify eating Corn when I know I shouldn't (besides, when I do eat corn, I blame alcohol and the deliciousness of late-night drunken taco binges, not genealogy ).

Considering genealogy comprises such a tiny window in Human evolution, I'm not sure what to make of it. If you really boil it down, most of the ethnic foods that are made famous as "indigenous foods" to certain ethnic groups, are steeped in agriculture for the most part. Yes, even corn to Native and Meso-Americans.

For the most part, I would take into account anything earlier than 10,000 years ago as being irrelevant in dogmatic Paleo eating. Even then, the very violent shifts in ecology over the prior 60,000 years of Sapiens development would make pinpointing a specific "Ancestral" food quite difficult... in warmer climes and climate-ages, you would probably see much more fruit, tubers, grubs, warm-water fish and shellfish eaten. In ice-ages, primary food sources would have been some vegetation and considerably more ruminant, marine mammal (in frozen coastal areas), and small-game meat. This is why, frankly, I think a better rule of thumb is to "avoid foods with ingredients labels", "eat whole foods", and "avoid foods that hurt you".

We succeeded as a species because of our communication (that enabled us to cook and share information about safe/not-safe foods), which allowed us to eat almost anything (provided it grew in the ground or had a face). And we were able to tell others about the foods that were not safe to eat.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on March 28, 2012
at 07:34 PM

Loved your response. Thanks!

3
518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 28, 2012
at 03:23 AM

I'm part Chinese, Irish, Scottish, and English. I don't even know where I would begin! But seriously, my family members are extremely varied in their diet and lifestyle and histories, so I feel like I'm just a mixed bag. Some things that work for my brother don't work for me, so it's a bit hard to spend too much time looking into my food heritage. I focus more on the food culture that I was raised in, which is a combo of farm-and-fishing culture: raising lambs and trapping prawns!

F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on March 28, 2012
at 05:23 PM

Hey Jenny -I am bit of a mutt myself, but my genetic testing told me my predominant genes. I heavily swung one way. Maybe that is a future option for you to get tested if you are bored and have money to burn.

1ce9661622ba354c61669ffe900a01ab

(552)

on March 29, 2012
at 01:20 AM

What's a good place to do genetic testing? Online places?

3
Medium avatar

(10663)

on March 28, 2012
at 02:45 AM

I'm Filipino and I know that my grandparents and all of my relatives eat a lot of white rice and coconuts and mangoes. We have a type of noodles called pancit that is a staple at get-togethers. So I'm trying not to be too aversive towards carbs and so I eat a lot of sweet potatoes (but have not eaten rice).
Filipinos also tend to eat a lot of pork (ever heard of lechon?) and fish and my mom told me that my grandfather cooked a lot of things in pork fat (and my grandfather was very fit/healthy and lived to be 92--died of old age). So hopefully I got some of his genes and am confident that if I eat somewhat similarly to him, I'll be good.

This is lechon by the way:
do-you-take-into-account-your-ancestry-when-you-try-to-be-flexible-with-your-paleo-diet-(e.g.-dairy,-rice-consumption)?

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on March 28, 2012
at 03:57 AM

Thanks for your response. Why sweet potato over rice? Is lechon similar to those pork roasts they have at the Asian markets? What sort of seasonings do they use?

Medium avatar

(10663)

on March 28, 2012
at 04:40 AM

I never had a reaction towards rice but my mom doesn't eat rice either so I guess I get it from her :P Yes, lechon is roasted over charcoal and after the abdomen is cleaned out, it can be filled with herbs and as far as I know, salt is the only seasoning that's rubbed on the skin. I've seen recipes that use molasses, ginger, etc. Some don't use any seasoning at all. But you get nice juicy meat and yummy crispy skin.

3
35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on March 28, 2012
at 01:40 AM

I consider it when sorting through the margins of my diet. You know the things that are not going to be your everyday but are going to be occasional deviations with little consequence. Two examples, beans & corn. My northern european genes (or north american gut bacteria) seem to handle a little bit of soaked beans just fine. But corn just doesn't work for my gut, no way no how... which makes sense because it's about as novel to me as wheat is to native american peoples.

D811808d3bfa5aebc7a1bd971fb6375b

on March 28, 2012
at 02:28 AM

Same with me, jj. My ancestry is completely Northern European (I did the 23andme.com DNA testing and it pooped out Nordic/Viking and Northern European ancestry). I find that I am just fine with wheat. I don't have negative reactions even if I eat a ton of it (except maybe a pimple). Do you find that you can do wheat but just don't? I do know Northern European and Nordic ancestry was heavy on the bread and meat consumption.

35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on March 28, 2012
at 03:14 AM

I'm not entirely clear whether I can "do" wheat or not. I have other health concerns that keep bread out of my diet 98% of the time, so I don't try it much. When I have eaten it it doesn't seem to affect me as much as corn... but I don't feel like I have a definitive answer either way.

2
0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on March 28, 2012
at 04:01 AM

Eat what you like, it seems that if you think there are rules that you a too dogmatic, so screw the guidelines, eat anything as long a you can see a cavemen eating it. Paleo on this site means eat anything. The more popular Paleo gets, the less structure it has so EVERYONE feels good about their style.

2
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on March 28, 2012
at 03:45 AM

No, I don't work on "well in theory I should/shouldn't be able to handle this because of my ancestry"

I started (a long time ago) on a super clean diet like Robb Wolf's autoimmune protocol and then I slowly reintroduced things and see if they have a negative effect. Because of that I do heavy cream, butter, and after a glycolyticly demanding day I'll have a potato. That's only based on how I look, feel, and perform. And after all, isn't that what counts?

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on March 28, 2012
at 02:59 PM

I would introduce 1 thing and wait about a week or so, maybe a little more. I posted this a while ago about tweaking your diet: http://paleohacks.com/questions/102646/how-much-paleo-tweaking-did-it-take-to-figure-out-what-really-works-for-you/102714#102714

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on March 28, 2012
at 03:53 AM

Did you introduce something one at a time? How long did you let the "trial period" run to see how it affected you? I love yogurt but I'm kind of scared of it because it makes me feel "impure".

2
D7cc4049bef85d1979efbd853dc07c8e

(4029)

on March 28, 2012
at 03:06 AM

I do. I'm 100% scandinavian by ancestry (dad full-norwegian and mom half-norwegian half-dane). I confidently added some amount of dairy back in in the form of cheeses and kefir.

Zero observed problems, and it could be said that I the "better" feeling I got was particularly from the kefir. I can't bring myself to drink normal milk again though.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on March 28, 2012
at 03:11 AM

I know what you mean about the milk! I have it in the fridge for my grandson but, even though I relish my home-made yogurt, I leave the milk alone. Maybe some day I'll make a glass of chocolate milk.

0e395acc856e3353f3f5892e6b09b0e7

(1227)

on March 28, 2012
at 01:58 PM

I'm a Swedgian myself, Mom Norwegian-Dad Swedish. After swallowing the low fat nonsense for years, I now embrace yoghurt made with cream and full fat cheeses and best of all BUTTER! I tolerate all well and have lost weight over the last two years of enjoying animal and dairy fat. My Scandinavian ancestory seems to underwrite this joyful experience. I stay away from milk--it makes me feel icky.

2
C116f7e54620c6003b67cd4450a298cd

on March 28, 2012
at 01:37 AM

All very interesting. I've thrown around the "ancestral diet" phrase from time to time....meaning "where you're from" in more recent generations, rather than referring to a more "Paleolithic" type diet.

I know for myself, I can tolerate corn (though I still limit it now) as I'm 50% Latino/Mexican. Of course not good with wheat. I like my coffee and tea black (though I just made the switch with coffee in the last 6 months - no cream).

1
7e1433afbb06c318c4d90860d493c49d

(5959)

on March 28, 2012
at 06:08 PM

I'm adopted, and all I know is what I've gleaned from DNA testing. Ancestrally, I'm western European on my mother's side and Ashkenazi Jew on my father's. I don't make any dietary decisions based on that. Of most concern to me is being APO E4/E4. As I understand it, E4 is actually the original ancestral version, and that makes me think I probably am better adapted to a less agrarian diet. I'm also 2.9% Neanderthal, for whatever that's worth.

1
F1b39d4f620876330312f4925bd51900

(4090)

on March 28, 2012
at 05:26 PM

I would love to explore this route. Just for fun. I am predominantly Greek. I know about the "typical" greek foods, as they are served in the US. But this probably isn't typical of what was eaten in the past. I am not sure how to find the more ancient and traditional foods.

Anyone know how to get started on finding that kind of ancestral diet information? I have done web searches, but haven't had much luck.

1
793d5410141153932ed5654382a41730

(213)

on March 28, 2012
at 02:24 PM

Considering Afghan cuisine is meaty, fatty, and carby I'm probably the only Afghan person to have gluten sensitivities.

With that said, Afghans and Central Asians just don't drink milk. They consume dairy in the form of yogurt, fermented milk, cheese, butter, cream, dried curds, sour cream, and so forth. While in college, I drank milk on a daily basis and I had terrible cysts, rosacea, and stomach pains. I guess if I "stick to my roots" I can consume dairy as long as it's not the milk in typical grocery stores. I did once have fresh farm milk with fresh butter in Tajikistan which DIDNT GIVE ME ANY PROBLEMS. And it was amazing.

Also, Central Asians eat a lot of rice. I think enough to put Asians to shame! If I don't have rice at least once a week I'll have problems with my digestion. I'm slowly trying to wean myself off.

By the way, I like your tag "half-assed-paleo" haha.

1
193b7fb0fec8913d5ebb3b99a04d21c6

(2918)

on March 28, 2012
at 02:14 PM

I'm mostly Eastern European and Middle Eastern, so I tolerate dairy really well with no issues. My husband is Korean and Native American, and dairy KILLS him. He is much more likely to cheat with rice and corn, though, and I have some issues with corn, though not as much with rice.

So in short, yes, we definitely do take our ancestry into consideration. From everything I've noticed, Asians + dairy = big no no. My MIL doesn't understand the concept of "lactose intolerance" and so when she wants to lose weight (the woman is probably 90 lbs soaking wet, but whatever), she drinks milk and chases it with lemon juice - UGH. Then she basically loses weight by sitting on the toilet all afternoon. This is the same woman who thinks ex lax will cure a rash, but I digress.

1
03525a7d89c96efe387b86be91fee9a5

on March 28, 2012
at 01:51 PM

As an Irish chick, I've found I tolerate dairy fairly well. . . but I stick to cheeses and heavy cream. I can't imagine that with that ancestry, I'm not tolerant to it. In the rare event I drink a glass of milk, I opt for goat. I do think that minor intolerances would be difficult to pick up on an elimination experiment however. In contrast to Epic Beauty Guide, I find that wheat doesn't sit too well with me (particularly beer, despite a tolerance for alcohol), though my reactions may less significant than that of others, and I would have expected to be able to tolerate it.

1
284213562569be43dfda0ad40914da6f

on March 28, 2012
at 02:20 AM

It's certainly prudent to sort foods that way but not to never try them over a period of time necessary to gauge: I consider the following (this is not science, just me trying to make my life easier) 1. Bloat(short and long term)--do I feel and observe my gut expanding beyond what the volume of food would indicate is appropriate? 2. Skin--(long-term) are there changes in my existing condition (seborrheic dermatitis.) Is my skin drier, etc. 3. Breathing-(short and long-term) am I able to, controlling for the air in my immediate environment, able to continue exercising as I am accustomed to do without being short of breath. 4. Strength--(long term), as in #3, is there any difference? 5. Sleep--Am I sleeping as I used to? 6. Stools--obv. 8. Palate-match--do I like eating this? Can i envision doing so on a regular basis (not necessarily every day.) This may seem superficial but it may prove to be the most important consideration.

with regards to dairy, stuff like kefir and yoghurt don't, AFAIK, have significant amounts of lactose. I tried eating the rice variety of my ancestors (a type of sri-lankan red rice, there are about 4 I believe) and while I didn't have major problems, anything more than 100g and I felt seriously bloated which doesn't happen with the same amount of tubers. Genes must be expressed and if you're not in your ancestral environment, who knows what that supposedly milk-deprived genome will do in response to your 'new' environment? It doesn't have to be bad.

0
8e10b687e328468783a72c55b64710e8

on April 22, 2012
at 07:30 AM

My ancestors of 5000 years barely drank any sort of dairy. I never heard of my nation's cuisine having any sort of dairy in it whatsoever. But I THRIVE on goat dairy, while cow milk murders my skin. Perhaps the reason is because my great, great ancestors originate from Siberia, where they had milk. I believe that ancestry does matter when considering diet, but remember: everyone is mixed to a degree.

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