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“Some hunter-gatherer(HG) groups ate plant dominated diets – others ate more animal foods than plant foods. However, the foods consumed over time always fall within certain nutritional constraints which humans have adapted to  thrive upon … our evolutionary nutrition.”

It is inspirational and important to see such a practical application of evolution. It has already exhibited tremendous benefits to early adopters in reducing illness, pain and suffering. Furthermore, just as it took time for the Copernican Theory to have practical applications to help humans (e.g., space flight), one might expect Evolutionary Theory to have similar delayed timing in regards to some practical application from it.

ISome HG groups ate plant dominated diets - others ate more animal foods than plant foods. Their nutrition still falls within certain constaints which we are adapted to ... am claiming that this is important precisely because it is the first practical application of evolution. It is derived from understanding human nutrition within our evolutionary context. It offers a new plateau for human health and vitality. The evidences are accumulating, and I am confident (as are others) that it truly will, at some point in the future become the new governing paradigm for human nutrition. To my knowledge, the connection was first suggested in 1967 by Dr. John Yudkin. Please comment below if you know an earlier peer reviewed publication or academic-oriented book. Dr. Weston Price was researching/writing earlier, but to my knowledge he never mentioned evolution.

I suggest it is most appropriately encapsulated as: “The Theory of Evolutionary Nutrition“.  Just like at the beginning of the The Copernican Theory, The Theory of Plate Tectonics, and Evolutionary Theory – it is controversial but the evidence is accumulating at a fast and exciting pace (for those paying attention). Many people are benefiting … and adding to the incredible success stories (see the most popular blogs’/websites’ plethora of success stories noted in a previous post). There is often cherry-picking-opposition, convoluted thinking, partial understanding and/or disdain in the mass media and general nutrition field. Then, of course,there are always those, too – who don’t know what “theory” means in science.

For those who don’t know, a scientific “theory” means much more than a “fact”. It is a set of facts that are so many and so consistent – that they create a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature. The theory is then supported by more and more facts that continue to be gathered over time.  It must be falsifiable, and this one certainly is; however, in the process of paradigm shift we are likely to have multiple “Piltdown Man” scenarios. These are shallow attempts at showing the theory as falsified or very questionable.

One of the most recent ones is a suggestion by science writers in the mass media that there is evidence that early man had a demonstrable dietary shift to grasses as a major component of foodstuffs. It is a ridiculous and irresponsible assertion sent to an unsuspecting pubic.  Professor Loren Cordain takes them to task here on his wonderful web blog and site.  Our saving grace on this Piltdown-like attack is the peer reviewed articles the science writers were referring to made no such claims. Expect more such attacks, because certain parts of the food and pharmaceutical industries, and even parts of academia, will feel very threatened when evolutionary nutrition starts becoming popular (or should I say even more popular!).

The good news is … taken together these situations bode very well as signs that we have discovered a new paradigm in science (see Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions for more details on the unusually slow and arduous and process). What one would expect in such a revolution is that now data, studies, facts, and examples will continue to accumulate … and at some point in the future be so robust as to finally overtake controversy and the more traditional paradigm.

The bad news is … this most often takes several generations! Ugh … the obstacles and obstinacy are unfortunately familiar to those of us espousing this elegant way to health.

Think of it as the ultimate “natural diet” – which includes in its consideration our history and prehistory of eating, not just all foods available in the natural world. Some foods in nature are poison or demonstrably sub optimal for certain species. This applies to all living organisms. Read what I think is a good synopsis of the foods that are compliant for humans at the Evolution Diet Chronicles.

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  1. yahoowoman77 says:

    Wow … this is amazing. A practical application of evolutionary theory?? If you understand the evolutionary history of your specie’s nutrition, and emulate it – you thrive. Makes sense to me but don’t tell my doctor or husband!

    • jake says:

      Okay, I won’t. Study it though if you are inclined. Look up Paleo Diet, Ancestral Diet, Steffan Lindeberg, Stephen Guyanet, Archevore on google. You won’t be disappointed if you study it well. Incredible the benefits people are achieving.

    • jake says:

      And don’t forget to “feed” your plants accordingly!

  2. geoman says:

    Very interesting … so our genetic composition and metabolism are adapted to certain foods in nature and not others. Just like a lion can’t eat all salads and be healthy and a mountain goat can’t eat all meat and be healthy. We can’t eat massive ammounts of sugar, grains, and processed foods.

    • jake says:

      Yes, you have got it! It would be easy to classify grains as the first processed foods, as we have only eaten it in large amounts once we learned to crush it and cook it. Before about 200 years ago, the average westerner ate approximately 1/100th of the sugar we eat today!

  3. SWilson says:

    This is an awesome start to explaining a subject that’s grossly under taught in the medical community. The evidence supporting reductions in oxidative stress, stabilization of blood sugar levels, and dramatic improvements in cardiovascular function, just to name a few, is staggering. Please keep this going, I look forward to seeing a movement towards this beneficial diet.

    • jake says:

      Thanks for your insightful comment, Stephan! I am pretty sure you will be one to help move this new paradigm forward in your career.

  4. Ron says:

    Hey Jake,
    Sounds like the old MacroBiotic diet. What’s the difference?

    • jake says:

      In one word – grains. They emphasis grains, while hunters and gatherers ate no grains. Only after learning to crush/cook/ferment were grains a staple in our diet. We think you should completely eliminate, or only eat very, very few grains. Rice is the most benign, while the most traditional in our culture (wheat, corn, barley, etc) will wreak havoc with your metabolic health if you eat as much as most people unfortunately do. In our opinion, grains should not be the base of the food pyramid – they should be at the top or not there at all.

      Macrobiotics is similar in theory, just not analysis. They do theorize we should eat natural and traditional foods … and then listen to your body’s response and adapt from there. There have also been multiple versions of the “Macrobiotic Diet”, so I can’t cover all of the permutations.

  5. N. Dirk says:

    Several generations, eh? Not too optimistic, by then will probably die out as most faddish diets have. Can name many, many

    • jake says:

      This is something that just takes time. There is a lot of info out there, especially in the blogosphere. Maybe in the internet age scientific revolutions will be shorter because of the faster and vaster dissemination of information! It isn’t a “fad” diet – it is just like you have to feed certain plants specific nutrients that other plants will wilt on. Professor Cordain says if you must call it a fad diet, then he says call it something like “the longest fad diet in human history”. Ha!

  6. Sassy says:

    Ultimate natural diet. They all say that. How is it diffrent

    • jake says:

      Come on! Read the article. It is the only “natural diet” that considers our evolutionary history and how that relates to what is natural to us.

  7. H.T. Roberts says:

    This is important, but Thomas Kuhn might have laughed (or cried!) at the inertia against solid, new ideas in our present nutritional paradigm. LOL or am I COL (crying out loud!) Good luck, and thanks.

    • jake says:

      Thank you, too. Imagine evolutionary theory during Darwin’s lifetime, or Copernican Theory during Galileo’s – the obstinacy and ruthlessness that too often accompany the backlash are surprising to the early adopters. However, as in those, the empirical evidence is accumulating. What are first “anecdotal accounts” (e.g., two or three fossils for evolution, or two or three cases of M.S. reversed) accumulate and overwhelm the previous paradigm adherents, but often a new generation or two needs to be born. Some observer, I forget who, stated that a new generation of scientists usually need to be born with the theory out there, and hear of the theory early in their education/career. Then, they are more open to it intellectually and emotionally.