Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sugar and Bread

Lately I have read some startling theories that seem, to me anyway, to make a lot of sense. I’m a believer in evolution and think that humans have evolved over the last million years or so from ape like creatures. Humans and apes share common ancestors. This has implications when considering the optimal diet for a human. Today’s food has been radically altered over the last few thousand years. Agriculture which is a very recent innovation of human culture has transformed the diets of most humans. Agriculture has produced far greater quantities of food than could be reasonably gathered from wild sources. This food has a far greater energy value although not necessarily nutrient value over wild sources. The fruit we eat today is packed with sugars in a quantity unheard of in Paleolithic times. Grains have been developed that provide foods that were simply unknown in Paleolithic times.

In the last ten thousand years and really over the last two or three thousand years for the majority of the world’s human population agriculture has provided an abundance of high energy food that is not natural for a creature that spent the last million years or so hunting and gathering. Foods high in sugars or carbohydrates would have been rarely eaten by primitive man – now those foods surround him at every turn.

Even food like meat has been radically altered with selective breeding and unnatural feeding of the meat animals.

Two high energy foods are now major staples of our diet. Processed sugars from cane, beets and corn are consumed at unhealthy rates and wheat, which is very much a newcomer to the human diet from an evolutionary perspective, is the principle ingredient of bread. Almost everyone eats sugar and bread in large quantities every day. This is considered to be so normal that few people ever think about it. Indeed anyone that refused to eat wheat and sugar would be considered a bit of a kook.

Yet these ‘foods’ are both incredibly harmful if not downright toxic to humans. A significant proportion of the population react quite badly to eating bread. Sugar is rarely considered to be toxic yet anything is toxic, even pure water, if taken in large enough quantities. Most people take in dangerous levels of sugar every single day.

The human body has not adapted yet to the eating of mega quantities of carbohydrates in the form of sugars and starches like bread. Humans have been nourished on meat, fish, eggs, insects, tubers, small fruits, nuts and berries and leafy vegetables for a million years. All those that didn’t thrive on this diet have been eliminated from the gene pool by natural selection. Nature is presently in the process of weeding out those that cannot thrive on sugar and starch by killing them off with obesity, cancer, diabetes and cardio-vascular disease. Maybe in the future we will have a new form of human that thrives on these foods however it’s going to take a lot of gene modification to achieve this.

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