Please read: How the Western Diet Has Derailed Our Evolution, by By Moises Velasquez-Manoff, Nov 2015.
A few teasers:
Whereas North American microbes orient toward degrading fat, simple sugars, and protein, the microbes of subsistence communities so far studied are geared toward fermenting fiber.
Antibiotics, available after World War II, can work like napalm, indiscriminately flattening our internal ecosystems. Modern sanitary amenities, which began in the late 19th century, may limit sharing of disease- and health-promoting microbes alike. Today’s houses in today’s cities seal us away from many of the soil, plant, and animal microbes that rained down on us during our evolution, possibly limiting an important source of novelty.
The United States Department of Agriculture recommends between 25 and 38 grams of fiber for adults daily; most Americans consume substantially less fiber-rich food, including nuts, whole grains, certain fruits, and vegetables. The guideline stems, in part, from the research of an Irish-born physician named Denis Burkitt. While working in Uganda in the 1960s, Burkitt became convinced that the high-fiber African diet explained the Africans’ relative lack of colon cancer.
Here, studies of populations living more traditional lifestyles may provide clues. In the past, most people likely imbibed many times more fiber than today. If you eat minimally processed plants, which humans have for millions of years, you can’t avoid fiber. Modern hunter-gatherers and horticulturalists certainly eat loads of it. The Hadza of Tanzania, for instance, consume at least 10 times more than Americans, in tubers, baobab fruit, and wild berries. Agriculturalists, like those Burkina Fasans, also eat more fiber than Western populations, in porridges and breads made from unrefined grains.
Years ago, while still a post-doc, Sonnenburg discovered that something very odd occurs when those MAC-loving microbes go hungry. They start eating mucus. “This is the stage where you say, ‘Oh my God. They’re eating me.’ ” Sonnenburg said. “You can see it.”We need that mucus. It maintains a necessary distance between us and our microbes. And as it erodes with a poor diet, the lining of the gut becomes irritated. Microbial detritus starts leaking through. One of the more striking discoveries in recent years is that you can see this stuff, called endotoxin, increase in the bloodstream immediately after feeding people a sugary, greasy, fast-food meal. The immune system responds as if under threat, leading to the “simmering inflammation” the Sonnenburgs think drives so many Western diseases.
Enough, lest I give it all away...have a read, and let me know what you think.
Hattip to Lauren for the link!
But if you are like Gemma, and hate homework, just watch this instead!