Not Paleo Yet? Your Diet Needs to Change as You Age
Dr. Michael Rose changed the face of evolutionary biology and aging research over the last 25 years. He’s an evolutionary biologist with more than 300 publications, was awarded the Research Prize by the World Congress of Gerontology, and is currently Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Irvine. He explains that a healthy diet should be based on our ancestry, because “Taking [our] complex evolutionary history into account requires a deep understanding of how natural selection does, and does not, produce elective biological adaptations. Such adaptations, and their limitations, determine human health.”
What is “aging”? Aging is not a process of cumulative molecular damage but the loss of adaptation with adult age.
Where evolutionary biology is today is that after age of 50 for sure, (by 40 for Persian or Iraqi, by 25 for a Eurasian, 15 for African or Native American), Paleo is the best diet for health because whatever adaptation to agricultural food your ancestors achieved doesn’t penetrate to older ages. Eventually, you will lose your adaption to agricultural foods. Phylum geography of the consumption of foods will be the work of the next 30 years. Our ability to adapt decreases as we age. It decreases at different rates in different people, and it is affected by our lifestyle. Middle-aged clients especially with health problems who go strict paleo with low-starch plants see dramatic improvements.
Why would the effects of evolution change with your age? Rose has some great visuals, allegories, and experiments to help you understand. Evolution doesn’t care about you at a later age, so we are seeing autoimmune conditions arise from those who lack adaptation to agricultural foods. Some people do all right with an agricultural diet longer, but all of us age out of these diets. And some of us with more recent agricultural ancestry have never adapted and should avoid agricultural foods at all ages. A good recent example is about those who can digest lactose. Those of us with ancestry from Britain to Sri Lanka can digest milk as adults. The rest of us cannot.
The original paleolithic diet was probably high in plant matter bulk (tubers, nuts, honey and no grains) and high in animal fats for quality nutrients and calories (organs, offal, probably less muscle meat than we eat today). Hunter-gatherers went high-carb only if they had no choice.
Ancestral Health Talk
Rose at the Ancestral Health Symposium. Human health depends on age and evolutionary history. Firstly, adaptation is age-specific, with Hamilton’s forces of natural selection leading to much greater adaptation at earlier ages than later ages. This of course is how evolutionary biologists explain the existence of aging in the first place. Secondly, when environmental conditions change, it takes surprisingly few generations for populations to adapt to such new conditions, at least at early ages when natural selection is intense. Thirdly, at later ages, when the forces of natural selection are weak, natural selection will often fail to produce adaptation to a selective environment that is not evolutionarily ancient. All three of these themes will be illustrated using both explicit mathematical theory and findings from experimental evolution. At the end of the presentation, we will apply these general scientific insights to the case of human evolutionary history, human aging, and optimal human diets.
Podcast at Robb Wolf
Dr. Michael Rose, Aging, Adaptation, and Diet stunning podcast you can listen to on Robb Wolf’s site.
Future research will include more individual variations as well as ancestry, but the biomedical establishment is not interested in this question currently. It’s all tied up in reductionist molecular biology and pharmacology.
We are the deadly and successful animals we are because of our brains not our bodies. We have great behavioral flexibility but we’re not well adapted to many of current activities and foods. Yet, our activity levels are not dramatically different from hunter-gatherers. It is all about our metabolically costly, demanding brain. Some exercise decreases mortality rates. Very high amounts actually increase mortality. Our brain remains as active regardless, and it is our brain that needs the good animal fats. It’s our diet causing our issues today, much more than our activity, which is similar to hunter-gatherer levels.