Evolutionary Discordance and Diet

Source: Nutr Clin Pract. 2010 Dec;25(6)

For nearly a quarter century, an idea has been popular: that modern humans’ abandonment of the lifestyles of our pre-agricultural ancestors has shaped the prevalence of chronic diseases of modern civilization, namely heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. This idea is known as the evolutionary discordance hypothesis.” Even though the anthropological evidence is neither universal nor fully documented, it is clear that, generally speaking, ancestral human diets were much lower in refined carbohydrates and sodium, much higher in fiber and protein, and contained comparable levels of fat (primarily unsaturated fat) and cholesterol. Even though additional research based on conventional epidemiological, clinical, and laboratory studies is clearly called for, the evolutionary discordance hypothesis has focused scientific attention on the relationships between diet, activity, and heredity, and has reshaped both the questions we ask and the methods we use to seek answers.