Eating the way people did 50,000 years ago: Are our bodies really the same as then?
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Eating the way people did 50,000 years ago: Are our bodies really the same as then?

Sacramento : CA : USA | Jul 06, 2010 at 7:15 PM PDT
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Which is healthier, to eat like we did 50,000 years ago or like we did 3,000 years ago? Have our genes changed, our blood types, and our bodies' reactions to food? Or can we become healthier on a cave dweller's menu minus the mammoths?

Or maybe our food, not our genes have become contaminated by environmental toxins since then or the soil has been depleted of minerals that were around thousands of years ago? How healthy is the Paleolithic diet to modern bodies? At least we know cave people didn't get that many tooth cavities, and there wasn't any sugar candy, just honey. So what kept them so healthy and thick-boned, but more subject to injuries and parasites than people today?

They didn't eat beans, dairy, or grains--just fish, meat, fruit in season and some vegetables such as roots and wild greens or a few blueberries. Was it the grain diet that caused us to drop a foot in height since then? And what's healthy to eat now?

There's an article in the Sacramento Bee on the Paleo Diet, eating like a caveman for health. See the July 4, 2010 Sacramento Bee article by Anna Tong, "Paleo diet turns back the evolutionary clock." But should you really eat like someone who lived 50,000 years ago? Should you eat like a pre-agricultural cave person who dined on buffalo, fish, rhino, mammoth, seasonal berries, wild vegetables, herbs, and roots?

Cave people in France ate lots of rhino. Unfortunately, the ice age drove those animals south. You could buy buffalo burgers at Sacramento's Natural Food Co-op. But you won't find the hunter's staple, mammoth. So you might eat lots of fish. The only problem is cave man's fish didn't have the toxins such as mercury that you find in most of today's fish. So the next best is to eat wild-caught salmon. That's what stone-age people ate 50,000 - 20,000 years ago.

Several weeks ago, according to "Paleo diet turns back the evolutionary clock," a group of health-conscious Sacramentans started their Paleo diet to eat like cave people for nine weeks. That means consuming only animals, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and mushrooms. The Sacramentan behind the cave man eating challenge is Rick Larson, co-owner of CrossFit West Sacramento, the gym running the dietary challenge.

Remember, the idea of agriculture, after the last ice age that crept around the world introducing dairy and cheese from herd animals along with planting grain for the daily bread and fermenting it for wine and beer that changed the diet of the Paleolithic peoples which resulted in them losing nearly a foot in height and getting in return more tooth decay from eating sun-dried fruits and filling stomachs with cheese and bread instead of fish and blueberries.

One exception was anti-microbial olives, but that only grew around the Mediterranean and in similar climate areas after the ice age. Long before agriculture, supposedly healthier, taller, cave people ate the Paleo diet--no grains, no dairy, no starch, and no beans. Some Sacramentans are trying a combination of Paleo and Zone diets. See the Zone Diet - Official Site. The Paleo Diet attracted people working out at the CrossFit gym.

The Zone Diet is a bit different than the Paleo Diet. One announcement on the Zone Diet site notes, "The combination of our revolutionary fresh-baked Zone Foods, OmegaRx® Fish Oil, and Zone Polyphenols now makes it possible to change the activation of those genes that cause both weight gain and silent inflammation."

The reason why some people at the gym began the Paleo diet challenge is to improve their workout results. Other gyms in the CrossFit family have had success with the Paleo diet. Larson decided to test it at his gym. Fifteen people are participating.

There are lots of modern foods introduced since the dawn of agriculture that dieters on the Paleo diet can't eat. What foods are shunned include anything discovered since agriculture began. That includes all dairy products such as cheese and cultivated vegetables such as beans. No grains or starches such as potatoes, and no processed foods.

The motto is "If you can't eat it raw, then you shouldn't consume it." But the diet does allow you to cook your meat and get rid of all the bacteria on it. Fire has been used for cooking for a long time. Paleolithic ancestors did cook their meat and fish. (Certain freshly-caught fish contains live worms and other parasites.)

The most recent excavation with evidence for early use of fire in France at the Menez-Dregan site, where a hearth and evidence of fire has been preliminarily dated to approximately 380,000 to 465,000 years. Somebody cooked rhino meat there. A hearth composed of stone blocks inside a small cave was found with burnt rhinoceros bones close by has provoked speculation that the rhino may have been cooked at the site.

The idea of the Paleo diet has been around since the 1980s, but it was popularized in the 2002 book "The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Food You Were Designed to Eat" by Loren Cordain, a professor at Colorado State University. Scientific journal articles do mention the Paleo diet. And a lot of people who eat it do feel healthier. Some people do gain more muscle mass.

And for others, their arthritis and respiratory problems, even acne disappears. Is it the diet or a placebo effect? A lot of people stay on the Paleo diet as much as possible for health reasons. But the question you have to ask yourself is whether your body and blood are truly Paleo? Or have you evolved by blood type, body shape, and cells to operate better on a vegetarian and fish diet, for example, with AB blood type or A blood type, more of a product of the agricultural age than the blood type O and sometimes B of the pre-agricultural age?

The question to ask is, are all of us, regardless of how thick or thin our blood is a product of the Stone Age at the cellular level? Or are some of us born hunters and gatherers, whereas others have already evolved blood so thick than only a fish and vegetable diet can manage our blood? You have people with blood types that can get rid of cholesterol better than other blood types. Some have clotting problems, such as certain type A blood types with thicker blood than some type O types. But a lot of other factors and genes are involved.

Will a stone-age diet make you healthier? Try it and find out. Or do you have type 2 diabetes where you need the fiber of beans, which are not allowed on the Paleo diet? Does your body reject whole grains? Or do you need whole grains to prevent constipation? Diet has to be individually tailored to what stage of evolution your genes are at now. It may be the same as it was 50,000 years ago. Or it may have changed. Some people really are at the level of evolution they were 50,000 years ago at cellular and metabolic levels.

According to the Sacramento Bee article, Larson, the West Sacramento gym owner combined the strict Paleo Diet with the Zone diet, which centers on setting calorie intake parameters but doesn't forbid any kind of food. In Larson's Paleo/Zone diet, the Paleo diet determines what kind of food to eat and the Zone diet guides the quantity.

There's a weekly social support group to help participants stay on the diet. Tea and coffee are allowed. What happens to you on an early Homo Sapien or Neandertal diet similar to what existed tens of thousands of years ago depends on how you individually respond to that diet.

If you eat like a Neandertal, be aware that Neandertals had 27 genetic differences from Homo Sapiens. And according to the article, people around the world today who are of non-African descent carry between 2% and 5% Neandertal genes. (Those few Neandertal genes are not found in people native to Africa, only in those who left Africa in the distant past to populate the rest of the world.) See the Cosmos magazine article of May 7, 2010, Neanderthal genes found in some modern humans | COSMOS magazine.

The advantages the cave people had possibly due to the diet of fish, meat, a few gathered, wild seasonal plants and lots of water led to larger pelvic inlet depth for easier, quicker childbirth, almost no cavities in the teeth, taller height, and thicker, stronger bones is great. But remember, everyone in the world 50,000 probably had the same blood type O, which may contain an enzyme that naturally removes high cholesterol from a high animal protein diet.

According to the GenoType Diet book (change your genetic destiny to live the longest, fullest, and healthiest life possible) 2007, by Dr. Peter J. D'Adamo with Catherine Whitney, you've received genes from ancestors that are the reactive inflammation-based, the thrifty metabolism-based, or the tolerant receptor-based. And what you eat influences your body type and genes.

Also see the official GenoType Diet web site. The site also has meal plans, recipes, bulletin boards, GenoType calculators, and various tools. The idea of the book is to live at your full genetic potential when it comes to what foods you eat.

Also some people, for example some of those called the Explorer Type in the book (including some of those with RH negative blood types) may have sluggish bone marrow function, "and struggle to keep up their white blood cell counts," according to section, "The Explorer Immune System Profile," on page 153 of the GenoType Diet book.

The book also mentions that many grains, nuts, seeds, and dairy products might contain toxins or molds that interfere with the proper detoxifications function in this explorer type. The diet recommended for this type minimizes exposure to pesticides and various other environmental toxins. Six types are discussed in the book. Besides the explorer type, also are named in the book the nomad, the teacher, the hunter, the gatherer, and the warrior.

Different blood types also can be categorized in the same body expression or genotype. There are six types named in the book. For example, nomads could be blood type B or AB and have different fingerprint patterns such as arches for type A or AB warriors and ulnar loops for type B or (also) AB nomads. Warriors also could be A or AB, depending upon other body measures such as length of limbs, fingerprint patterns, torso length compared to leg length, upper leg compared to lower leg size, and other measurements.

Explorers can be any blood type, especially RH negative. Hunters are always the original world-wide ancient cave person, blood type O, with O negative found at highest rates in the Basques. Warriors, the original farmers and agriculturists of the world, can be the thick-blooded A blood type, or the newest blood type, AB, formed when type A had children with blood type B. Type B blood originated at the foot of the Himalayas around 9,000 years ago and spread east and west from there.

Teachers can be type A or AB, for example. Nomads can be B or AB. Explorers can be any type, especially RH negative. It is about the blood type and other body measurements that correlate to the genotype or genetic expression/genetic signature as it plays out in the shape and measurements of the body's parts, limbs, and fingerprint patterns as well as response to how quickly or slowly the person metabolizes food and medicine, reacts to environmental toxins or molds, and other ways your liver, organs, lungs, white blood cells, and entire body, react to your environment, foods, foreign objects, and lifestyles.

It's not only the blood type that makes up your genetic expression or genotype. It also depends upon other body measurements and fingerprint patterns, which are mentioned in the book, with instructions on how to take these measurements so that a DNA test is not required.

Gatherers can be blood type O or B. Some gatherer body type shapes mentioned in the book are Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, and Oprah Winfrey. The body types are further categorized into whether there is a relatively large space between the thighs or no space, that is whether the thighs are andric or genic.

Working with food tailored to genetic expression classifies people by various body parts such as fingerprints, length of torso, length of upper or lower legs, strength-testing your genotype, and other specific measurements that relate to statistical correlations. Information also discusses statistical correlations of diseases later in life, for example to finger print patterns, the way your body puts on weight, response to infections, and how thin or thick your blood is, among numerous other correlations.

For example, your genes may have a metabolic basis to survival by conserving calories. For tens of thousands of years, your ancestral genes didn't know from where the next meal was coming. So your body responds metabolically, that is, your body responds to the idea of scarcity of food by slowing down your metabolism in the way your cells respond to stimulation.

Another type, which responds by inflammation, is the reactive genotype. Your immune system responds to the microbes in your environment with aggressive inflammation. You'll probably remember a childhood full of antibiotics. Too much friendly fire--over-reaction of your immune system could put you on the path to autoimmune diseases. It's a hair-trigger response to infection from viruses, bacteria, allergens, and autoimmune responses.

Think about how some women over-respond even to their husband's sperm, treating early pregancy as an invasion by a foreign substance, or responding with a variety of their own illnesses to pregnancy. These people, such as blood type O, are geared to react and primed for physical activity.

A tolerant immune system, for example, as some blood types have, such as blood types AB or B, are adaptable, reminiscent of nomads of thousands of years ago that traveled through different environments. This type doesn't react very quickly to inflammation or microbes.

Instead it adapts as it responds to the environment by altering the binding sites (receptors) found on cells and tissues. These receptors are used by microbes to attach to tissues and organs. That's great for priobiotics in the digestive track. So your body tries to get along with whatever the environment throws at you, adapting instead of defending.

Basically, the book goes through all the genotypes and the blood types. For example, Blood type O is more vulnerable to cholera and the plague. Blood type A is more vulnerable to smallpox. Blood type B is more vulnerable to a wide varieties of the flu, and type AB is more vulnerable to malaria.

Blood types also are correlated with levels of stomach acid. For example, blood type A and AB have less or weaker stomach acid than blood types O (which has the strongest stomach acid) and B, also with strong stomach acid for eating animal proteins. According to the book, type O needs a more carnivorous diet. It's the oldest blood type. Once, perhaps tens of thousands of years ago, the whole world was blood type O. Later, farmers developed high numbers of blood type A, more the vegetarian type.

Type B falls in between. For more information on the role of blood type in development of certain diseases, you might turn to the book, The Complete Blood Type Encyclopedia. But more interesting is the fact that blood type O contains a certain enzyme that removes cholesterol from fatty meats from the bloodstream better.

When the more vegetarian blood type A (with weaker stomach acids) eats fatty meats, the thicker blood of A lacks that ancient enzyme that blood type O has more efficiently for thousands of years removed the cholesterol from the fatty meat. And what happens? Blood type A (and AB) get their arteries filled up with fat and calcium from eating diets high in long chain saturated fatty acids (fat from meat).

Other genotypes respond differently to caffeine, for example. Some people have a gene that makes them a slow acetylator. It's the chemical process by which your liver uses to detoxify any foreign substance coming into your body. It could be medicines, anesthesia, foods, beverages, you name it.

People with fast acetylator genes detoxify quickly. For example, these people can hold their liquor. They're not sensitive to those dental anesthesias, foods, and rarely get food poisoning or have intense reactions to cigarette smoke. On the other hand fast acetylators don't break down the carcinogens in cooked meats very well, raising the risk of colon cancer.

Slow acetylators are just that--slow to cleanse their bodies of foreign substances and unfamiliar foods or medicines. They get sick from one drink or can't stand the odor of wine. Medication makes them react quickly and badly, with side effects such as dizziness, nausea, panic, overstimulation, or sleepiness.

These people are the most likely to switch to a vegetarian diet, go without pills, and turn away from conventional medicines to natural and food-based solutions to problems. Look into your own and your families medical history for three generations and see how many were fast or slow acetylators.

Most important, from these books on genotype diets, metabolic types, blood types, and how your body responds at the cellular level (or molecular level) to foods and nutrition, is one main idea to ponder. If you have type O blood, for example, can you eat all the meat you want and realize there's a chemical in your blood that's removing the bad fats so they don't pile up in your arteries, but eating too many starches and grains will fill up your blood with fats, your arteries with calcium and fat, and your body with fat? Does science really know the answer the that question?

Or if you have blood type A, and eat too many fatty meats, will that thick, type A blood compared to the thin type O blood (with B and AB being in-between) throw clots, or give you hardening of the arteries faster (or even cancer) on a high-meat-fat- diet? But vegetables and fruits, a plant-based diet with some fish, work better to keep your arteries cleaner of fat and calcium build-up over the decades? Does science really know the answer to that question also. And where can you find out the facts to see whether your body really works in one way or the other?

Or if you have type B blood (or AB) is your main problem a lack of communication between your nervous system and your immune system? If you are blood type A, is your main problem your more viscous (thick) blood that by nature are more prone to degenerative changes such as heart disease, adult onset diabetes, and metabolic syndrome? Who can answer those questions with scientific studies? Where do you find out this information to check out what happens to blood type A compared to O or other types over the years and with what types of diets?

If you have blood type O, your reactive immune system produces inflammation quickly. This starts with the increased production of white blood cells. But does your body overreact, say to dust particles by giving you asthma or allergic reactions to peanuts or shrimp or certain vaccines by producing allergices that could in different people range from simple to much rarer severe anaphylactic shock?

Or if you have a blood type A mother, regardless of your own blood type, do you have more allergeries to different foods? Or if you're type B blood, are you allergic to corn products? All these reactions are said to be related to your genotype. Do blood types AB and B have more difficulty in communication between the immune system and the nervous system than blood types O or A?

And do your fingerprints show a developmental road map of statistically correlated risks of anything from breast cancer (six or more fingerprint pattern whorls) to more than three arch-type fingerpring patterns linking correlated risks to frequent sluggish bowels and constipation issues? Or do eight or more ulnar loops in your fingerprint patterns warn of a higher risk or tendency to Alzheimer's or other cognitive diseases later in life?

The trouble with this pattern is that eight or more ulnar loops are also one of the ways used to identify blood type B and AB people descended from ancient nomads, which the Genotype book calls "Nomads." You could proceed to take a test to see whether you have the actual gene for Alzheimer's. But what about all the other cognitive diseases that come on later in life? Is there a diet to prevent it if you have the tendencies as reavealed by statistical correlations of your fingerprint patterns to cognitive diseases? What can you do to prevent or slow down the path of genes?

Your first step to find out is to look at the studies that were used to reveal statistical correlations mentioned in this book and other books. First of all, ask yourself whether gentic predisposition actually is destiny, or are there hundreds of genes that control, say your destiny to develop a certain class of diseases later in life?

It takes more than one gene or fingerprint pattern to predict your health path or lifestyle, and environment plays a role. For example, what if you lack the gene to deal with stress, but more than one gene controls how you react to stress--by raised blood pressure or other ways? That's why scientific studies continue to do research, and more statistical correlations will be ongoing.

In the meantime, the Genotype Diet book is highly recommended to find out a lot of information and a great suggested reading list so you can go further. Check out the various blood type informational websites. For further information, check out the book, Neurotechnology with Culinary Memoirs from the Daily Nutrition. Choose the diet best suited for your own body's response.

AnneHart is based in Sacramento, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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