Evolutionary Medicine is the application of modern evolutionary theory to understanding health and disease
Ancestral Health is another name for Evolutionary Medicine. These both suggest promote a theory that we can better understand our current modern diseases though studying our ancestors.
I presented the framework of Ancestral Health during a lecture for my department at the University of Utah.
Here are some of the notes from that presentation.
- Describes a certain adaptation which at one time was well adaptive in a certain environment.
- But this trait is “mismatched” to the environment in which the trait is currently present.
- Example: Sweet taste. Evolutionarily the taste of sweet provided an advantage, because we came to associate this with high calories. This taste provided an advantage to us. Now this is a modern mismatch. This drive for sweet produces negatives health effects.
Four Key Modern Mismatches
- Lack of Movement
Grains should be viewed as a Luxury item
- Traditionally difficult to produce
- Eaten in low quantities until recent modern technological advancement
- Advent of the dietary guidelines correlates with obesity
- Some studies show that as a population we are close to following the guidelines
- The guidelines correspond to an increase in designed foods which match the macro-nutrient specifications
- From 1970 to 2000 we have increase total calories on average by 250 with almost all of this being carbohydrates especially processed carbohydrate.
How Dr. Henriksen Eats:
- Real food that is fresh and natural. Foods like meat, vegetables and fruit, nuts and seeds.
- Foods which are nutrient-dense, with lots of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, rather than foods that have more calories but less nutrition.
- I’m not lacking carbohydrates – I just get them from vegetables and fruits instead of bread, cereal or pasta.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Trends in intake of energy and macronutrients–United States, 1971-2000. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2004 Feb 6;53(4):80-2.
- Hartwig, Melissa, Dallas. It Starts With Food. 2012
- Kuipers, Remko, et al. “A Multidisciplinary reconstruction of Paleolithic nutrition that holds promise for the prevention and treatment of diseases of civilisation.” Nutrition Research Reviews. 2012
- Lindeburg, Stephan. Food and Western Disease. 2010