In previous posts, this blog series introduced the basic concept of epigenetics and how diet can impact the expression of genes in different people. The post that follows discusses what type of diet is ideal based on the human species and our genes.
In order to figure out the optimal diet, we must first identify the species under consideration within the animal kingdom. Every member of each species require the exact same nutrients. For example, all dogs in the dog species, since they have the exact same genetics, will require the same nutrients. If they didn’t have the same genes, then they wouldn’t be the same species. And the same goes for giraffes, bears, bumblebees, and every other species of animal on the earth. Why would it be any different for humans? Humans are an animal species that follow the same biological and physiological laws as any other animal on earth. Thus, determining which diet is best for humans has nothing to do with allergy testing, blood testing, metabolic type, blood type, hair color, gender, height, race, or religion. These things may affect beliefs and behaviors but they do NOT determine our genome, thus they do NOT determine which nutrients we require as a species.
The next step is to determine which nutrients are required based on genetic requirement. Our species requires nutrients from free-range, organic, grass (not grain or soy) fed meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and water. Therefore, no grains, refined sugar, soy, or dairy are necessary. We are not genetically equipped to process anti-nutrients like gluten (grains) or to consume most dairy products, especially if pasteurized. Nearly 65 percent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy. That being said, Daniel Liebermann, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard, explains that through the evolution of the human genome over the past 8,000 years, the lactose tolerance gene has gone from near zero percent of the Northern European population to almost 100%, just due to exposure. If you come from Northern European descent (mostly Swedish), you may well digest whole, unpasteurized dairy rather well. Even so, do not mistake mere tolerance for genetic necessity in the human species.
If this is true, then why are there so many different kinds of diets? What about the food guidelines we learned in school? Why have we been told by nutritionists, doctors, school nurses, teachers and even the government that grains and dairy are necessary parts of our daily diet? I remember in grade school learning about the food pyramid and going home to make 6 grilled cheese sandwiches, thinking I was being healthy! I was getting all 12 servings of grains and 5-6 servings of dairy, all in one sitting! My teacher would be so proud! However, I was wrong. My teacher was wrong. The pyramid was wrong. Why? It comes down to three things: lack of science, lack of asking the right questions, and an abundant influence by multi-national food corporations. Dr. James Chestnut, a doctor of chiropractic and lecturer who has been studying human wellness and prevention for over 25 years tells us that:
“…paradigm also has a great deal to do with it. Most nutritional recommendations are either based on what keeps someone alive or what can improve the health of someone who is very sick rather than what is required to express health potential. Many different diets can make very sick people a little less sick by making them a little less toxic and a little more sufficient but only the correct diet for the species can allow the expression of health potential and maximize the prevention of nutritional-related illness.”
Next week, we’ll look more into certain inflammatory foods and the impact of anti-nutrients on the body. Below are more links on the genome specific lifestyle.