Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Our Brain Evolves While Our Health Pays the Price

"Humans are qualitatively different from other animals because we manipulate the flow of energy and resources through the ecosystem to our advantage, and consequently to the detriment of other organisms. That is why we compete so successfully with other species. But with this success come some inherent failings, particularly in terms of our health."

When the topic of diet comes up people often rebut the notion that the "hunter gatherer" diet remains the healthiest and most ideal for humans, with the notion that our bodies have evolved along with our diets since our hunter gather ancestors roamed the earth about 10 thousand years ago. This may be true, to an extent, but it's important to remember that approximately 100,000 generations of people were hunter gatherers. This compared to only 500 generations which have depended on agriculture, and only 10 generations that have been around since the industrial age (industrial farming), and only 2 generations since highly processed fast foods have consumed our diets.

What may be most detrimental to our health however is the every so quickly shrinking biodiversity of foods (plant species) that make up our diets... Our prehistoric ancestors ate an estimated 100 to 300 different verities of plants over the course of a single year, Westerners seldom consume more than 20 to 30 and that's the more "health-conscious" of our population.

"Furthermore, agricultural biodiversity is shrinking as fewer species and varieties are made available for cultivation. Today 75% of the global food supply comes from a mere 12 crop species. Not only are we losing species diversity but we are losing varieties within those species. The demise of dietary diversity is exacerbated by modern processing, in which artificial chemicals instead of herbs are used to preserve, enhance the taste of, and add color or other properties to food. Our industrial diet is greatly weakened thereby in both nutritional and medicinal attributes, providing us with only the bare essentials of energy and protein."

Wild Health by Cindy Engel

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