How our ancestry affects our diet - Healthy Eating

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How our ancestry affects our diet

Rignold profile image

I was listening to an interesting podcast with Paul

Chek yesterday in which he was explaining how our ability to metabolise food is determined by our ancestry: those of us of Northern European origin for example, from places where the land freezes in winter, are adapted to a largely animal

Based diet, whereas those from warmer inland climes, Aborigines for example, are genetically predisposed to more plant based diets.

26 Replies

And we won't necessarily know what our genotype is from our phenotype.

I found out the hard (professionally speaking) way years ago about the variation in lactose tolerance post infancy. More than 250ml of animal milk does not have pretty results in, apparently, three-quarters of the world's population. Those of us with the mutation which means we can are the minority. I wonder if that might change over time.

Lol. The Gallon Of Milk A Day (GOMAD) not going to work for some then

One of my friends fell for the blood type food suitability twaddle which wasn't based on anything scientific.

I'm sure humans have adapted to eat anything we can get nutrition from, & seeing some shopping basket contents, sometimes little nutrition. People in desert, as well as frozen environments would have had a predominantly meat based diet due to availability.

Jerry profile image

Interesting topic Rignold, being a coeliac I know that is because of my ancestors interaction/exposure with genetic gradients in the advancement of agriculture and their ingestion of cereals (exposure to wheat and the like)

This is what made the potato famine so dire in Ireland as theres a lot of coeliac there.

So regardless of why our ancestors genetic make up seems to affect some of us thats for sure, so good post I'd like to hear the podcast by Paul.

And I've never liked the thought of the eskimo's diet but they have adapted to it.

The Inuit were one of the people’s discussed: obviously theirs is rather an extreme but in essence their normal diet was 90% animal protein and fat and only 10% everything else. And of course as soon as they were introduced to a standard western diet they started getting heart disease, rotten teeth etc. But interestingly it was saying that food quality had little to do with it: Inuits fare just as badly eating organic pineapple and quinoa - the proble m being that it is food to which they are genetically unsuited.

Jerry profile image
JerryAdministrator in reply to Rignold

Very interesting thanks, I'm still glad I was brought up in the countryside/seaside in Devon...

Rignold profile image
RignoldKeto in reply to Jerry

You are genetically predisposed to thrive on pasties and clotted cream

LostBear profile image
LostBear in reply to Rignold

Some people have all the luck!

Zest profile image
ZestStar in reply to Rignold

lol :-)

Jerry profile image
JerryAdministrator in reply to Zest


andyswarbs profile image
andyswarbs in reply to Rignold

Where is your source Rignold for this claim about Inuit diet? There was indeed an assumption in the initial research that inuit ate extremely large amounts of meat. But it was just an assumption, afaik.

Rignold profile image
RignoldKeto in reply to andyswarbs

In the interests of finding a source you will not dismiss as being paid shills for the meat industry, Andy I refer you to Dr McDougall.

andyswarbs profile image
andyswarbs in reply to Rignold I think is a good reference you may be thinking of. However I was more asking for actual research, rather than opinion.

Rignold profile image
RignoldKeto in reply to andyswarbs

I have not the time to find the reseearch you need, I am afraid. I think the fact that the Inuit live in the Arctic Circle rather precludes anything but a meatcentric diet though. Plants do not grow on tundra. Man cannot live by cloudberry alone.

andyswarbs profile image
andyswarbs in reply to Rignold

I am not disputing the challenges of the Tundra. But good research is not built on assumptions and stereotypes. If assumptions are validated we can have more confidence in the research. That's what we all want, I am sure.

Btw, my nephew before he had his farm in north wales worked extensively in the antarctic for the BBC. His diet included mars bars daily.

Rignold profile image
RignoldKeto in reply to andyswarbs

No ants, then? They are protein rich.

andyswarbs profile image
andyswarbs in reply to Rignold

Insects, ants etc - very protein rich. Our culture generally just does not want to consume them, similar to not eating dogs. Though in China they think of dogs as a good food source. Perhaps their dogs are different!

Rignold profile image
RignoldKeto in reply to andyswarbs

They have tasted rank whenever I have tried them. Like badger. Only herbivores taste good, really.

Penel profile image

Certainly an interesting topic, but perhaps difficult for most of us to know that much about our ancestry, given all the migrations over the centuries.

Like Jerry I have to avoid gluten. The gene(s) responsible appear to have given some additional resistance to bacterial infections, useful in a pre-agrarian community, possibly not so useful now!

My son had a recent DNA test and our maternal line can be traced back to Central Europe. Not sure that this would affect the kind of food we could eat. What does seem to affect your ability to digest / utilise food are the bacteria in your gut, which will be closely linked to your environment.

Hi Rignold, I'm a First Nation from Vancouver Island. My tribe is called the Toquaht First Nation.

I often wonder if it's my heritage why I am lactose intolerant as well with wheat and gluten. I know the doctor diagnosed me with IBS, but so many of our people are coming up with the same intolerance as me.

We have a history of living off deer, and sea foods. Fresh vegetables, potatoes, rice of course and lots of berries.

ShadowDee profile image
ShadowDee in reply to ShadowDee

I remember my late mom telling me that dairy and wheat were not part of our diet. So, this does make me wonder.

He discussed First Nation diets as well. I will find the link for you.

Zest profile image

Hi Rignold,

This sounds interesting. I would like to hear the Podcast you mentioned - so if you have a link, it would be great. I guess it could be easy to find, if I put the name in.

Zest :-)

Rignold profile image
RignoldKeto in reply to Zest

I listened to a couple with him as the guest: one was Ben Greenfield’s, the other was Barbell Shrugged

Zest profile image
ZestStar in reply to Rignold

Great, thanks, I'll take a look/have a listen. :-)

Hidden profile image

Your ancestry is easily traceable in this day and age. It is interesting to read re. Ireland with the autoimmune tendency. My CD is unproven, but some of these posts made me far more aware. Nearly all of my Irish acquaintances/old friends got some sort of autoimmune diseases. In fact, it's interesting to recall that some of them are strict vegetarians. Perhaps, it wasn't purely a fashion/health statement, but it went deeper than that, made me think.

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