Sunday, January 27, 2013
A Species Wide Change in Diet
What I found particularly interesting in this week's readings was the idea that humans are really not that old. We've essentially gone from being hunter-gatherers to sedentary desk workers is a blink of an eye. Evolution has already caught up with our diets once by making our brains bigger and guts smaller. What will the next step be?
Obesity and diabetes have become the new epidemics of our time and are mostly due to our sedentary lifestyles and diets high in fat and carbohydrates. From my experience working in hospitals, it is almost a safe assumption that a given hospital patient is diabetic. Because these conditions have become such major issues, many fad diets have gained popularity. People are obsessed with losing weight. Two recently popular weight-loss methods are hot yoga and Atkins. Hot yoga is an intense yoga work-out in a 105-degree-Fahrenheit environment, intended to help participants sweat off the weight. It causes severe dehydration in exchange for the loss of five pounds in one session. Many people who try the Atkins diet, a low-carbohydrate, high-protein weight-loss diet, generally do not understand that excessive amounts of red meat can lead to increased risks of heart disease and cancer.
People have been fascinated with ancient bones and what they can tell us about the lifestyles of our ancestors. We know that a lot of Northern Europeans drank milk and developed the ability to digest lactose into their adult years, as opposed to other mammals who lose the ability in late infancy. On the other hand, most other cultures did not develop this ability, at least to the same extent as Northern Europeans. Drinking milk is clearly beneficial to bone development and calcium absorption, even if the exact reasons cannot be pinpointed. While there are milk programs in schools, adults often drink soda instead, which robs their bodies of calcium. As a whole, humans need to learn to eat healthier and exercise more, because our lifestyles are changing too quickly for nature to fully catch up.