Our Modern Diet

~ December 2002 No.157 ~

As we face epidemic numbers of people with obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, many people have started to question the role our modern diet plays on our health. There is no doubt that, when you compare what we eat to day to what our parents or grandparents ate, the changes are enormous. It is very likely that our grandparents wouldn’t recognize many of the foods we take for granted and one wonders what would happen to granddad’s serum cholesterol, body weight, and overall health if he were to eat the highly processed fast food that is a major part of most of our diets.

There is a branch of science that feels we should be looking even farther back at our ancestors’ diets as a way of gauging the quality of our own diet. It is believed that our diet has changed too rapidly and is too far removed from that of our ancient ancestors and this is the cause of many of our modern day nutrition/metabolism/health problems. Today we eat highly processed food, and not enough fruits and vegetables; our dietary fiber intake is a major concern. It has been only recently (in relative terms) that the amount of fiber in our diets has deceased so rapidly,. However, metabolic and physiological changes to accommodate this change in the diet will take much longer. So constipation, and perhaps heart disease and some cancers, may become major problems because our bodies can’t change as fast as our diets.

It is not possible to tell exactly what humans ate thousands of years ago, and there are no samples of ‘dinosaur’ meat available so that we can test the amount of saturated fat that caveman might have received from eating a chunk of roasted tyrannosaurus. However, when one reads diet recommendations to day, it can be seen that in many ways palaeolithic diets were more nutritious than our modern convenience oriented diet.

Palaeolithic Diet Compared to Modern Diet
Beverage Alcohol g/100ml
Minerals2 X more
Fiber4-10 X more
Antioxidants10 X more
Omega- 3 fatty acidss50 X more
Lactic acid bacteria10 X more
Protein2 X less
Saturated fatty acids4 X less
Sodium10 X less
  1. More Info
  2. Eaton, B.S., Konner, M. 1985. Paleolithic nutrition: a consideration of its nature and current implications, New Eng. J. Med., 312:283-289.
  3. Wikipedia

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