006

1. Due to my desire to increase my fish intake (esp. bivalves, which are--by many accounts--basically meat plants and about as ethical to eat as any animal can be), I have gone back to visiting this super helpful website (courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium) that has a consumer guide of the most sustainable fish. They update it regularly, and you can print out/download a handy pdf that is specific to your state/region and lists Best Choices, Good Alternatives, and Fish to Avoid. 

2. Doing some interesting layman's research into haplogroups and nutrigenomics, and I have a question that I'm sure has plagued the nutrition community since paleo diets became a thing: how long does it take, evolutionarily, for humans to adapt to a particular diet? Clearly, our bodies have issues with refined sugars (and probably most foods that are stripped down--white flour, etc), so an argument could be made that the 150 years since the Industrial Revolution definitely isn't enough time (makes sense--that's a very short amount of time). But livestock domestication began something like 13,000 years ago (conservatively), and agricultural reform began in ernest (let's be really conservative again) about 5,000 years ago. The Paleolithic/Stone Age overlaps quite a bit with these dates--ending, after 3.4 million years, somewhere between 8,000BC and 2,000BC depending on where you lived at the time. (Sumer, Egypt, and Peru were busy kicking ass real early.) And people were eating wild grains from 20,000BC. But, right, assuming we could come up with some arbitrary number that is "enough time" to evolve our stomachs, we then have to account for how weirdly good humans have been at crop cultivation and intentional mutation. We've been genetically modifying our food via tree grafting, for example, for up to 3,800 years (*takes a sick bong rip* GMOs are not new, maaaaan). And then there's the argument that people back in the day didn't have the same health concerns that we have now--heart disease, obesity. But also people had a ton of crazy diseases and didn't live very long, generally, so do we really have much of an idea how great their diets were? Two hundred years ago, 2000 years ago--neither were super duper times to be alive. There's a lot to deal with here.

Frankly, I don't think this even needs to be a thing that most people think about. If you feel good, keep on keepin' on. However--as previously mentioned--I generally feel like a human trash can. So, ok, here's what I'm thinking: given that noise about the Industrial Revolution, I imagine 150 years is not long enough for humans to be used to a thing. But eating a "paleo" diet (generally described as no grains, potatoes, refined sugar, legumes, dairy, or "processed foods, and often with an emphasis on local, in-season foods) is dumb to me for two reasons: First, grains and potatoes are hecka old and people have been eating them (and growing them) since 8000BC and earlier, which is pre-Bronze Age. Second, my family has not been in the US for very long. We've been here for like 90 years (only back to my great-grandparents--both sides of my family tend to make it into their 90s), so local foods make less sense than cheese by paleo logic. Before we moved out west, my family was in Ireland/Scotland and Poland. Using the magic of haplogroups, it looks like (if we want to look 4,000 years ago) we were also in Ireland/Scotland and ~Poland (a little more complicated to say exactly, since the borders have been in flux for most of Poland's recorded existence. I know I'm a bit Russian, too, so let's just say "Slavic" and call that good). If you go back farther, both groups seem to be in the Balkans. Then Egypt. Then, then, then. So if I were to find a starting point--using paleo as an elimination diet rather than an end point--where would I begin?

My current plan is to try a paleo* Scots-Irish diet (which I am experimenting with officially in July. No potatoes, sadly, but not for arbitrary reasons. They weren't introduced to Ireland until the 16th century or so) since I'm genetically 75% Scots-Irish. A possible second option, or maybe the foods to incorporate after a month (mostly because I like the simplicity of focusing on one area and having limited ingredients to work with at the start--it's less overwhelming), is a hybrid S-I/Eastern European paleo diet. Then, maybe, I move on to the Bronze age and see what happens. 

An additional note: as I mentioned in my previous blog post: this company looks interesting. I've thought about them a few times since my initial mention and obviously they aren't going to share exactly how they determine which foods are good for you, but I do wish there was some indication. For example, are they looking at haplogroup heredity like I mentioned above? Or are they looking at specific genetic markers for (ex:) heart disease and then recommending foods that are known to be heart-healthy? 

 

*I mean "paleo" here by foods native to these areas a few thousand years ago, including basic grains (barley and oats). I'm sure the versions of parsnips I will buy barely resemble ye olde parsnippe, but this is all a goofy self-experiment anyway.