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Old 06-15-2009, 06:52 AM   #1
Darryl Shaw
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Default What is the optimal anthropoid primate diet?

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ABSTRACT Following Socrates’ advice “You should learn all you can from those who know. Everyone should watch himself throughout his life, and notice what sort of meat and drink and what form of exercise suit his constitution and he should regulate them in order to enjoy good health.” Based on biological, chemical and physical considerations I have attempted to synthesize guide lines for an optimal diet from the vast literature. For an offshoot of the primate line it may be wise not to stray too far from the line’s surprisingly uniform predominantly frugi- and herbi-vorous diet that is only lightly supplemented by hunted small mammals, eggs, nuts, insects etc. By dry weight raw wild fruit contains fats, proteins, carbohydrates, digested and undigested fiber in the approximate proportions 5 : 7 : 14 : 17 : 17. The fat component contains both essential fatty acids, about 23% linoleic and 16% alpha-linolenic, the latter severely lacking in Western diets. The practical problem is how to as best as possible, but not religiously, approximate this diet with super-market items.
http://arxiv.org/ftp/physics/papers/0112/0112009.pdf

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Nutritional characteristics of wild primate foods: do the diets of our closest living relatives have lessons for us?

The widespread prevalence of diet-related health problems, particularly in highly industrialized nations, suggests that many humans are not eating in a manner compatible with their biology. Anthropoids, including all great apes, take most of their diet from plants, and there is general consensus that humans come from a strongly herbivorous ancestry. Though gut proportions differ, overall gut anatomy and the pattern of digestive kinetics of extant apes and humans are very similar. Analysis of tropical forest leaves and fruits routinely consumed by wild primates shows that many of these foods are good sources of hexoses, cellulose, hemicellulose, pectic substances, vitamin C, minerals, essential fatty acids, and protein. In general, relative to body weight, the average wild monkey or ape appears to take in far higher levels of many essential nutrients each day than the average American and such nutrients (as well as other substances) are being consumed together in their natural chemical matrix. The recommendation that Americans consume more fresh fruits and vegetables in greater variety appears well supported by data on the diets of free-ranging monkeys and apes. Such data also suggest that greater attention to features of the diet and digestive physiology of non-human primates could direct attention to important areas for future research on features of human diet and health.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10378206
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Old 06-15-2009, 01:38 PM   #2
Greg Battaglia
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Not knocking your post, but it always amazes me when researchers get the idea that since apes eat a certain way that humans will function optimally on the same diet. If you want to know what humans are biologically designed to eat it would make much more sense to study humans that live in the wild, not other primates.

That being said, plant/animal ratios vary from tribe to tribe pretty widely, although most tend to eat far more meat and fat than plants. Sticking to meat, fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and tubers is the way to go if you want to eat according to human design. Eating like an ape it would be a VERY hard, if not impossible, to get adequate calories and nutrients to fuel an active body.
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Old 06-16-2009, 05:12 AM   #3
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I agree that eating like a wild chimpanzee would be almost impossible however as our nutritional requirements are quite similar to those of wild chimps studying their diet provide a useful reference point when determining the optimal human diet. For example the first paper states that in a chimpanzees diet "food energy would be derived from fat, protein, carbohydrate approximately in the ratio 11 : 6.7 : 30.7 = 455 cal : 280 cal : 1270 cal for a 2000 calorie diet from 51 g fat, 70 g protein and 320 g carbohydrate including digested fiber." which is remarkably similar in terms of macronutrients to the traditional Okinawan diet and we all know how well they do health wise. So, although we have the same nutritional requirements as our closest relatives it's clear that we don't necessarily have to eat like them in order to meet our nutritional needs.
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Old 06-16-2009, 06:23 AM   #4
Gittit Shwartz
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Taking Greg's point one step further: for the optimal diet for a human of Okinawan descent, study the Okinawan diet. For the optimal diet for an Eskimo, study the Inuit diet. Et cetera.
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Old 06-17-2009, 05:19 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Gittit Shwartz View Post
Taking Greg's point one step further: for the optimal diet for a human of Okinawan descent, study the Okinawan diet. For the optimal diet for an Eskimo, study the Inuit diet. Et cetera.
Taking this logic one step further; to find the optimal diet for a species of African descent study the diet of African hominids.
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Old 06-17-2009, 06:01 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Darryl Shaw View Post
Taking this logic one step further; to find the optimal diet for a species of African descent study the diet of African hominids.
That's taking this logic one step BACK, rendering the comparison entirely useless, as evolution moves FORWARD.

To demonstrate your fallacy, consider taking this logic ANOTHER step in your direction, and looking at the diet of all mammals... totally irrelevant to homo sapiens sapiens.
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Old 06-17-2009, 06:56 AM   #7
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Are there any studies about how different ethnic groups react to diets?
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Old 06-17-2009, 09:47 AM   #8
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Darryl,

Why would anyone consider comparing diets of different species more relevant than comparing diets within different populations of a species (ie, "civilized" humans to modern hunter-gatherers)?

To make an analogous comparison of a generally omnivorous family, look at the bears (different species within a taxonomic family, similar to humans and chimpanzees). The diets of bears range from purely herbivorous (pandas), to largely herbivorous (inland grizzlies, black bears) to purely carnivorous (polar bears). Does the diet of any one of these species imply that the diet is optimal for another?

Species are adapted to their environment and its food resources. To conclude that humans (successfully adapted to virtually every ecosystem on earth) should model our diets on apes (a group of animals inhabiting exclusively tropical forest habitats) defies logic and evolutionary adaptation.

Your referenced author (Milton) acknowledges the role of animal food sources in human evolution here:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14672286?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez. Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DiscoveryPanel.P ubmed_Discovery_RA&linkpos=3&log$=relatedreviews&l ogdbfrom=pubmed
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Old 06-19-2009, 06:38 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Scott Hanson View Post
Darryl,

Why would anyone consider comparing diets of different species more relevant than comparing diets within different populations of a species (ie, "civilized" humans to modern hunter-gatherers)?

To make an analogous comparison of a generally omnivorous family, look at the bears (different species within a taxonomic family, similar to humans and chimpanzees). The diets of bears range from purely herbivorous (pandas), to largely herbivorous (inland grizzlies, black bears) to purely carnivorous (polar bears). Does the diet of any one of these species imply that the diet is optimal for another?

Species are adapted to their environment and its food resources. To conclude that humans (successfully adapted to virtually every ecosystem on earth) should model our diets on apes (a group of animals inhabiting exclusively tropical forest habitats) defies logic and evolutionary adaptation.

Your referenced author (Milton) acknowledges the role of animal food sources in human evolution here:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14672286?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez. Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DiscoveryPanel.P ubmed_Discovery_RA&linkpos=3&log$=relatedreviews&l ogdbfrom=pubmed
You're correct in saying that "species are adapted to their environment and its food resources" and that's why it's important when discussing the optimal diet for our species that we take into account the fact that our basic anatomy and physiology was established in Africa ~200,000 years ago. We evolved as a species that was strongly herbivorous with some opportunistic consumption of meat and only became efficient hunters (as opposed to scavengers) long after our basic physiology and nutritional requirements were established and to quote Katherine Milton "although humans can thrive on a diversity of diets, we know of few specific genetic adaptations to diet in our species.* Therefore when attempting to determine the optimal diet for our species it seems reasonable that we study the diets of both contemporary African hunter-gatherers and our closest genetic relative the chimpanzee.

*Source: Hunter-gatherer diets—a different perspective.
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Old 06-19-2009, 11:57 AM   #10
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Milton COMPLETELY side steps all of Cordains arguments. She also claims that he recommends diets high in grain-fed animal fat, which she would clearly no is not the case at all if she actually read his papers.
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