Think, Read, Cook

Because no single way of eating works for everybody.

Adaptation Pockets in our Genes


This video – a Q&A by Matt Lalonde, Ph.D Harvard University Chemistry and Chemical Biology – really interests me. And I think everyone trying to eat for their health should see it.

It’s about food, humans, and evolutionary science. In it, Dr. Lalonde talks about the real, non-hyped science behind the paleo diet, and why saying, ” humans aren’t evolved to eat grains” isn’t all there is to it.

If you’re interested in human evolution and food, give it a look; it’s worth the 27 minutes of your life. Especially because of the end, where Dr. Lalonde explains that it’s not just all about your genetics – it’s also about the expression of your genetics, and your adaptation.

Apparently, the fact that our genes are like those of paleolithic humans isn’t the point. For instance, paleolithic people didn’t eat grains or dairy products; but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t have adapted to eating them. There are examples in nature of animals moving to new locations, finding a different food supply from the one they’d become used to, and adapting to thrive on it. Genetics make up only part of the picture. Adaptation is another part.

This seems to be another piece of the puzzle about what people as individuals should eat. According to Lalonde, since humans have only been growing and eating grains for about 10000 years, there hasn’t been enough time for the entire human species to have adapted to eating them. So the proteins in grains – glutens, for example – give some humans no trouble at all, but really mess up the systems of others. (I certainly haven’t adapted to eating wheat; it makes me want to jump under a bus.) Likewise, dairy products, and the proteins and sugars therein, aren’t foods that every human is adapted to eating without problems. And legumes, another food we didn’t eat much of before the advent of agriculture, are problematic for some people, but not others. There hasn’t been enough time for us to adapt to eating these foods.

So if you like, you can call this Part Two of Why No Single Way of Eating Works for Everybody. We may have the same genes… but we’ve all got different things in the pockets.


2 comments on “Adaptation Pockets in our Genes

  1. dleonard4
    March 11, 2013

    You should get the adaptation genes with the little change pocket.
    Seriously, this is fascinating…

    • thinkreadcook
      March 11, 2013

      It is, isn’t it? And I tried to find the ones with the change-pocket, but they only had them with the low-rise genes… never ask for the low-rise genes. 🙂

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