Evolution, Anthropology and Human Nutrition

It is clear that humans have only eaten an appreciable amount of the very high-carbohydrate foods (in particular sugar, and ultra-refined grains) for a fairly short time in their overall development. Now before anyone accuses me of being some crazy ‘Paleo guy’ remember that I started consulting in the nutrition field before Paleo was ‘cool’….way back in the late 1990s. But, as a rational scientist it does make sense to me, to look at what humans have eaten over their many tens of thousands of years of development and what the remaining free-living hunter-gatherer populations still eat, to at least provide some extra context to what we should be doing now. For many thousands of years’ humans survived as hunter-gatherers and it is only in the past several thousand (an evolutionary ‘blink of the eye’) that we have shifted to a diet in which grain-based and high-sugar foods dominate our food supply. It is even more recently that we began to eat the vast amounts of highly processed and ultra-refined foods that now make up the bulk of the modern diet. The agrarian shift reduced health of our ancestors At the time of the invention and rapid uptake of agriculture around 10,000 years ago, people’s height decreased and health suffered.1 While we tend to think that having an abundant supply of food would preserve health and performance the opposite appears to have taken place. What it instead provided food security. There are undoubted benefits to this, but the higher-grain diets…