6

votes

Is it time to replace paleo with nutrigenetics?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 01, 2012 at 7:45 AM

Paleo is a wonderful notion - to emphasise the dietary practices that our bodies, due to evolution, are best suited to.

This principle seems to work particularly well when compared with diet plans that are extremely unsuited to the expectations of our bodies, e.g. the carb-centric and highly processed foods in westernised culture whose consumption is implicated with obesity, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease and cancer.

I think paleo is a fantastic starting template for dietary health - certainly far superior to the food pyramid and all the diets and fad diets out there - but i think one can do better.

It's implied by paleo that it is in fact a genetically based-diet, i.e. it's consistent with the notion that our genes are not evolving at the pace of food industrialisation.

However, it's not just that our genes are - in effect - old. We are genetically different to each other. Some people put on more weight on the same diet, activity, age group and sex, whilst others don't. Clearly some people need to be on paleo more than others in order to maintain the same health levels.

So it's not just paleo that's important but its also nutrigenetics - the individual response to food. Also it's the genetics of the bacteria that we harbor in our gut that contribute to how each of us respond to food.

Many paleo proponents are purists and consider that paleo is only paleo if one follows a regimen that aims to, as closely as possible, approximate the estimated dietary practices of our deep ancestors. Yet it's obvious to many other paleo supporters that we can incorporate nutrients that did not exist ancestrally (e.g. whey protein) to enhance health.

Given our increasing knowledge of genetics and nutrition is it time that we considered replacing paleo for a more gene-centric approach to nutrition?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 16, 2012
at 08:29 AM

I'm working on an enterogenetic panel at the moment (identifying the predominant enterotype based on 16sRNA sequencing) - so, yes I'm reasonably acquainted with the topic and do agree that there is significant dietary, metabolic and inflammatory influence from gut bacteria. But to suggest humans are largely homogeneous genetically, I - and the evidence out there strongly concurs - strongly disagree.

1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

(10904)

on November 16, 2012
at 08:01 AM

Not saying it doesn't come in to play, but its more complex than simply genetics. Have you read anything about the gut brain axis that's been coming out in the past two years. This is big stuff.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 16, 2012
at 07:12 AM

How about phenylketonuria or hereditary fructose intolerance or lactose intolerance or gluten sensitivity or familial hypercholesterolemia? Each of these metabolic diseases has a specific genetic basis.

1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

(10904)

on November 04, 2012
at 08:15 AM

Epigenetic risk maybe, especially if families that have starvation or malnutrition 2 generations back plus a screwed up gut environment. There are marked differences in the gut flora of type 2 diabetics.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 04, 2012
at 02:04 AM

Have you considered genetic risk for type 2 diabetes, which genetically predisposes to a carb-sensitive metabolism and genetic risk for hypercholesterolemia, which predisposes to a fat-sensitive metabolism? These genetic variants and their resulting phenotypes suggest there are gene-metabolic variants in the population.

1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

(10904)

on November 03, 2012
at 11:58 AM

A lot of what you just listed is more recently being associated with the gut biome, actually. Not genetics... Unless you're talking the genetics of the bacteria and yeasts etc in your body...

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 01, 2012
at 11:14 PM

I would agree that paleo is presently the most gene-centric in an evolutionary sense.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 01, 2012
at 11:12 PM

Two people can have remarkably different responses to their environment whether it is caloric intake, allergens, sunlight, stress, exercise - you name it. Many of these different responses are now becoming associated with differences in genes.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 01, 2012
at 05:31 PM

I like this response in the context that I have physical differences from other people so (I believe) I have an optimal food mix that may be different from yours.

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on November 01, 2012
at 03:50 PM

Ever since my celiac diagnosis and shift to a paleo and completely gluten-free diet, I've been getting more tired and more brain-fogged. It turns out to be caused by genetic mutations and their interactions with health and diet. I'm hoping to help some family members who share these mutations, as well. So it's not about cold heartless individualism, or overthinking one's diet, it's about getting well. Actually, it's about accommodating the present-day lack of micronutrients in our foods in the ways that are most important. We don't all need to go overboard on all nutrients, after all.

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on November 01, 2012
at 03:02 AM

I seriously doubt that. humans live together, they die together. this level of cold heartless individualism is simply too much

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 01, 2012
at 02:41 AM

Jamie, everyone has some sort of an opinion on a topic even though they ask a question..

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 01, 2012
at 02:39 AM

Its more about eating with confidence that the nutrients you're consuming are most appropriate for your personal metabolism rather than a statistical average.

Bb3d1772b28c02da2426e40dfcb533f5

(5381)

on October 30, 2012
at 10:58 AM

Dont think this is really a question. Even if it is, the OP has their mind made up.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on July 02, 2012
at 08:35 AM

Harry - do you really need to be that smart? I am already impressed, you don't need to impress me more! It is going to be okay, we will all survive - with homocysteinemia or not, I promise!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 02, 2012
at 08:25 AM

Some other well known nutrient-gene interactions in addition to APOe: - PKU gene > phenyketonuria - LCT gene > lactose intolerance - HLA-DQ gene > gluten allergy - MTHFR gene > homocysteinemia

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on July 02, 2012
at 06:53 AM

I am not a DUDE!!! I have a flower as my avatar!!! Okay, so frogs are not a good example. Fish? They all need water (I assume).

80890193d74240cab6dda920665bfb6c

(1528)

on July 02, 2012
at 06:47 AM

VB, dude, there's a vast difference in terms of outcome depending on your APOEs. Do you know them? You need to find out. 'Cuz if you've drawn a double 4, you need to take action, and that action may be radical. There are many such genetic issues folks need to know about and act upon. :)

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on July 02, 2012
at 05:40 AM

actually, the different species of frogs eat very different diets that are not always interchangeable. Frogs are definitely more diverse than humans, particularly since there are families like the Sooglossidae that have been isolated for hundreds of thousands of years. It's not the best analogy and either way, small differences can be quite dramatic. Humans are almost identical genetically to chimps and bonobos, but oh what a difference that small percentage makes.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 02, 2012
at 12:54 AM

Mike, do you consider the question to be illegitimate in some way?

C3f9730405f7885f9ccaad364404c433

(412)

on July 01, 2012
at 04:22 PM

Hmmm Harry appears to be affiliated with a website called genefoods selling supplements. Do you smell a rat?

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on July 01, 2012
at 09:56 AM

If you do not mind me asking - what do you do for living? Your writing style is very academic/professional/impressive.

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9 Answers

17
98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

on July 01, 2012
at 12:43 PM

As far as I can see we have already done that. Recreationists or the rigid thinkers are pretty much shunned as extremists which is as it should be IMO. It seems to me that most involved in the paleo movement are very sensitive to individual needs and encourage individuals to get in touch with the needs of their own body and act accordingly. More and more you see the term "paleo template" or similar term which means a very broad framework with individual needs considered as well. So no I don't think the reasonable people need to leave paleo to the extremists. Instead I think that the extremist need to leave paleo and go off and have their little food cult and leave the rest of us alone as we allow the individual to, within the broad paleo framework, use his/her own judgement to find what works best for his/hew own body.

4
7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on July 02, 2012
at 03:38 PM

Genetic research has yet to pan out as anywhere near as fantastic as the P.R.

Obviously, if you find you have a disease that requires you to eat differently from the standard paleo advice, it would make sense to do so, but this does not require 'ditcing paleo.' We must distinguish between general advice (paleo) and therapeutic recommendations (taking the right form of folate if you can't process the stuff on your own).

3
2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on October 30, 2012
at 04:17 AM

I didn't know this level of overthinking ones diet was possible.

2e6e673ce3eb647407d260d4d57a731b

(1021)

on November 01, 2012
at 03:02 AM

I seriously doubt that. humans live together, they die together. this level of cold heartless individualism is simply too much

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 01, 2012
at 02:39 AM

Its more about eating with confidence that the nutrients you're consuming are most appropriate for your personal metabolism rather than a statistical average.

7841848bd0c27c64353c583fb7971242

(7275)

on November 01, 2012
at 03:50 PM

Ever since my celiac diagnosis and shift to a paleo and completely gluten-free diet, I've been getting more tired and more brain-fogged. It turns out to be caused by genetic mutations and their interactions with health and diet. I'm hoping to help some family members who share these mutations, as well. So it's not about cold heartless individualism, or overthinking one's diet, it's about getting well. Actually, it's about accommodating the present-day lack of micronutrients in our foods in the ways that are most important. We don't all need to go overboard on all nutrients, after all.

2
F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on July 02, 2012
at 05:33 AM

Again, my compliments on your writing style.

No, I do not consider ditching Paleo for nutrigenetics. Why? A frog is a frog no matter where it lives - in Africa, in America or in New Guinea. There are small differences, but we all are the same species.

What is good for the frog in Africa another frog can adapt to. At least I do not know any frogs that would refuse to eat flies and go for a chocolate ice cream instead. Do you?

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on July 02, 2012
at 08:35 AM

Harry - do you really need to be that smart? I am already impressed, you don't need to impress me more! It is going to be okay, we will all survive - with homocysteinemia or not, I promise!

80890193d74240cab6dda920665bfb6c

(1528)

on July 02, 2012
at 06:47 AM

VB, dude, there's a vast difference in terms of outcome depending on your APOEs. Do you know them? You need to find out. 'Cuz if you've drawn a double 4, you need to take action, and that action may be radical. There are many such genetic issues folks need to know about and act upon. :)

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on July 02, 2012
at 06:53 AM

I am not a DUDE!!! I have a flower as my avatar!!! Okay, so frogs are not a good example. Fish? They all need water (I assume).

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 02, 2012
at 08:25 AM

Some other well known nutrient-gene interactions in addition to APOe: - PKU gene > phenyketonuria - LCT gene > lactose intolerance - HLA-DQ gene > gluten allergy - MTHFR gene > homocysteinemia

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on July 02, 2012
at 05:40 AM

actually, the different species of frogs eat very different diets that are not always interchangeable. Frogs are definitely more diverse than humans, particularly since there are families like the Sooglossidae that have been isolated for hundreds of thousands of years. It's not the best analogy and either way, small differences can be quite dramatic. Humans are almost identical genetically to chimps and bonobos, but oh what a difference that small percentage makes.

2
F8f38dfefde197df8ac1782ab6e65a60

on July 01, 2012
at 10:50 AM

Excellent question, I have always thought of a similar ideal. I don't think its necessary to ditch paleo all together and move towards a nutrigenetics frame of thought. However that being said, IMO paleo "with" a nutrigenetics consideration and extension as "part" of the paleo diet certainly has its place. As you said nutrigenetics is basically paleo and taking into account individual responses to diet is important to optimize health. As for enhancing health through supplements? Well supplements are reasonably new in health and we may not yet know their full negative or positive effect on the human body until much more research and anecdotal reports are done.

1
E773ca32b29508bae2055579a26afa98

on November 01, 2012
at 05:36 PM

Given our increasing knowledge of genetics and nutrition is it time that we considered ditching paleo for a more gene-centric approach to nutrition?

Right now science is leading us to Paleo because Paleo is the #1 ???gene-centric approach to nutrition???.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 01, 2012
at 11:14 PM

I would agree that paleo is presently the most gene-centric in an evolutionary sense.

1
81181cab058dd652659e4bb2e6f25843

(528)

on November 01, 2012
at 03:15 PM

Our level of understanding about the complex system that is our body is not at the point in which such an idea is feasible (either technologically, fiscally, or more likely epistemologically). It would be unnecesary to make such a transition at this point, but, I beleive ideas should be incorporated into the paradigm as they harden into facts which we can further build our knowledge upon.

1
E253f8ac1d139bf4d0bfb44debd1db21

on November 01, 2012
at 08:41 AM

This is like matching the right blood type for a transfusion. Match the right food type for the body type.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 01, 2012
at 05:31 PM

I like this response in the context that I have physical differences from other people so (I believe) I have an optimal food mix that may be different from yours.

0
1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

on November 01, 2012
at 04:53 PM

Is it really genetics that are playing in to us reacting to dfferent diets or is it just our screwed up/ varying gut flora from dead soil, overuse of antibiotics and antiseptics, and all the pesticides/herbicides, and fungicides in our food supply? Heck. Lets throwin the candida inducing sugar diet and high intervention birth + formula use. Genetics have very little to do with it IMHO. Humans are a remarkably UN-diverse species (probably due to a dramatic bottleneck in our early history), actually. Especially considering how widely dispersed we are.

1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

(10904)

on November 03, 2012
at 11:58 AM

A lot of what you just listed is more recently being associated with the gut biome, actually. Not genetics... Unless you're talking the genetics of the bacteria and yeasts etc in your body...

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 04, 2012
at 02:04 AM

Have you considered genetic risk for type 2 diabetes, which genetically predisposes to a carb-sensitive metabolism and genetic risk for hypercholesterolemia, which predisposes to a fat-sensitive metabolism? These genetic variants and their resulting phenotypes suggest there are gene-metabolic variants in the population.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 01, 2012
at 11:12 PM

Two people can have remarkably different responses to their environment whether it is caloric intake, allergens, sunlight, stress, exercise - you name it. Many of these different responses are now becoming associated with differences in genes.

1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

(10904)

on November 04, 2012
at 08:15 AM

Epigenetic risk maybe, especially if families that have starvation or malnutrition 2 generations back plus a screwed up gut environment. There are marked differences in the gut flora of type 2 diabetics.

1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

(10904)

on November 16, 2012
at 08:01 AM

Not saying it doesn't come in to play, but its more complex than simply genetics. Have you read anything about the gut brain axis that's been coming out in the past two years. This is big stuff.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 16, 2012
at 07:12 AM

How about phenylketonuria or hereditary fructose intolerance or lactose intolerance or gluten sensitivity or familial hypercholesterolemia? Each of these metabolic diseases has a specific genetic basis.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on November 16, 2012
at 08:29 AM

I'm working on an enterogenetic panel at the moment (identifying the predominant enterotype based on 16sRNA sequencing) - so, yes I'm reasonably acquainted with the topic and do agree that there is significant dietary, metabolic and inflammatory influence from gut bacteria. But to suggest humans are largely homogeneous genetically, I - and the evidence out there strongly concurs - strongly disagree.

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