In Search of the Pefect Human Diet

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

Today I got an email from my good friend Cassandra Forsythe. Cass is brilliant so anything she sends my way I take very seriously, and this email was no exception.

She forwarded to me a newsletter from the Metabolism Society (yes, we are geeks) about a new documentary being made called “In Search of the Perfect Human Diet.” It looks absolutely fascinating. Here is an excerpt from the newsletter:

“The film is an unprecedented global exploration for the solution to the epidemic of overweight and obesity, rapidly becoming the #1 killer in America. What I’d like to do is tell you a bit about why we’re making this film, how it began for me, and the “behind the scenes” moment that occurred over and over again taking us places we never expected. These unexpected developments have made the search for the “perfect human diet” an incredibly fascinating treasure hunt, one that will be a real eye opener for audiences everywhere.

CJ Hunt - The movie creator

CJ Hunt - The movie creator

At this moment in history we are losing the war with obesity, and losing badly.
Between 300- 400,000 American’s die every year from complications related to diet and obesity. Sadly, this crisis is not ours alone. The World Health Organization (WHO) projects that by 2015, 700 million adults will be obese worldwide.

As independent journalist-filmmakers looking for buried treasure, we had to go where others in our profession had not. If we were to genuinely dig to find the answers, the place to explore was outside of the present dietetic groupthink. So in the summer of 2006, it began. Over the last several years we filmed interviews with many of the world’s top scientists, authors, clinicians and researchers in archaeological science and medicine, paleo and forensic anthropology, nutrition and metabolism, and the emerging field of “human dietary evolution.”  And what we’ve found are not new scientific theories and speculation- but definitive, scientific, fact-based answers; answers that, if taken advantage of, could solve our weight epidemic.

The first interview we conducted was with Professor Loren Cordain of Colorado State University, author of “The Paleo Diet.” Professor Cordain is a leading U.S. expert in evolutionary human nutrition. At the conclusion of our time with him, he added, “You know who you should go talk to is Mike Richards at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany…” And this kind of mention at the end of each interview is what ended up directing the course of filming. What I had in mind originally only had a few subject matter experts and authors here in the U.S. But these unexpected moments and mentions took us from excavations containing remains of Neanderthals and early modern humans in Jonzac, France, to the biomolecular anthropology analyses labs at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and more. Every destination provided more groundbreaking evidence of a “perfect” human diet that can’t be ignored.

What we’ve uncovered during this journey to solve the obesity epidemic is remarkable. I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone, but what I can tell you is this – the solutions to our epidemic of overweight and obesity lie not in focusing on reworking the USDA Food Pyramid every 5-years, but in a vast area of overlooked understanding in nutrition – evolution.

If you would like to know more about the documentary or sign up on the DVD notification list you can do that at perfecthumandiet.com. If you wish to contribute – any amount helpful in assisting in the completion of the film.  For business and strategic distribution alliances, please e-mail us at info@perfecthumandiet.com”

Here is a youtube video of CJ Hunt (the creator) talking about this amazing documentary.

If you watched the video you probably noticed that this documentary notes that problems started around 10,000 years ago (if you are a regular reader of my blog you might already know where this is going). What happened at this point that changed the game? My answer (without actually seeing the movie): The Agricultural Revolution. The ability to farm grains and have ready access to it changed us from hunter-gatherers to farmers. Now this had the result of creating human civilizations, science, art, culture, religion, organized warfare, basically life as we know it today, so it certainly had its benefits. The downfall is that this drastic change in dietary intake, this great increase in grain consumption, caused some severe negative metabolic effects that we are suffering from today. Granted there is more than grains that are the problem: increased sugar intake, increase refined vegetable oil intake, decrease activity levels, etc., but it all started with farming.

I highly encourage you to check out this movie and sign up for the info. It will be an awesome experience.

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Posted on July 1st, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre

4 Comments

  1. Bob Parr Says:

    Definitely looks like an interesting documentary. But, I would hesitate to place the majority of the blame 10,000 years back. Ever watch old news footage from the 1930s, 40s, through to the 60s? The average Jane and Joe on the street is rarely very fat, especially if they’re young to middle-aged. I can also recall my own childhood in the 70s and 80s, when you could count on one hand the number of kids in my school who could be called obese. No, most of the problem, at least in the US, seems to only be about 20 years old.

    I’m no researcher, but my best guess is that it’s a combination of greater processed food consumption, less frequent cooking and eating of meals at home, years of misinformation about how eating fat makes you fat, and changes in employment and leisure-time activities. (I.e., fewer stand-up factory and outdoor jobs; more desk jobs… More electronic media for both kids and adults, less outdoor activities and sports participation.)

    Where most people miss the boat is that change was fairly subtle. Consume an extra 200 calories per day (especially in the form of HFCS and empty carbs). Add to that just moving around about 30 minutes less each day, because the Internet/Tivo/X-box360 beckons you. Now do that 365 days per year times a few years: hello obesity!

  2. Brian St. Pierre Says:

    Bob,

    There is no question that only a few decades ago people were thinner. The point was that in the archaeological record there was a drastic shift in human skeletal remains. Suddenly humans were less robust, shorter, with smaller skulls and dental defects. These changes happened worldwide in lockstep with the rise of agriculture. Now I am not claiming that eating some grains are the bane of human existence, but we aren’t meant to consume 70% of calories from carbs. We just aren’t.

    The past few decades it has gotten worse due to many many reasons. Like the ones you mentioned, the drastic increase in grain consumption and the ones I mentioned in my conclusion. There isn’t one answer to solve the entire problem, but cutting out unnecessary sugar/sweetener/refined carb consumption and only consuming carbs from whole-food sources would make a massive impact.

  3. Bob Parr Says:

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for your response. You make some great points! I think the Eskimos/Inuits demonstrated that carbs are actually the only one of the macronutrients that is basically non-essential. Including some may be optimal for our long term health, but definitely not 70% of calories!

    I will definitely look for this documentary. Keep up your informative and thought-provoking blogs.

  4. really nice Says:

    It’s arduous to find educated individuals on this subject, however you sound like you already know what you’re speaking about! Thanks

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