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Obesity isn't from lack of medicine

Antidiabetic medications have been given a lot of attention lately.

In the Age of Information, some subjects take over every screen, while others gather dust in the basement.

The Human Genome Project got plenty of attention in the 1990s. It captured our imagination - the thought of unveiling the blueprints for life.

Unwinding the DNA. Hope for humanity and our many ailments seemed within reach. Born with bad genes? We’ll be able to fix that soon.

So far, the project yielded few answers and left us with many new questions.

Most people know about the three macronutrients, dietary fat, protein and carbohydrate.

Protein is important, not only because it’s energy — it’s also a building block for all life.

It turns out that protein is also information. The invention of proteomics, an offshoot of the Human Genome Project, now allows geneticists to ‘read’ proteins from prehistoric skeletal remains and see the macronutrient composition of ancient creatures.

We now have a pretty solid understanding of what early humans and human predecessors ate.

Perhaps because of its proximity to the underwhelming Genome Project, the proteomic field has been largely ignored.

What also hasn’t gotten attention was the revelation that our ancestors ate a lot of meat.

The nitrogen isotopes that are being deciphered in the proteomic data show that humans had a higher accumulation of meat-derived nitrogen than the contemporary ice age carnivores, such as dire bears and saber toothed tigers, indicating we preyed on those hunters. It appears that homo sapiens were the apex predators of the ice age.

Human skeletal samples also reflect the robust physiology of our ice age ancestors. Not a lot of kale on an ice sheet. Nor Ozempic. No apples.

105 years ago when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics was founded in Cleveland, little was known about our paleolithic past. Into that void stepped nutritionists who insisted a vegetarian diet was best for humans, as that’s what its founder, Lenna Cooper’s Adventist upbringing recommended.

With the new class of blockbuster drugs, which are used off-label as appetite suppressants, maybe we can reduce the need for insulin? Either way it will be ok. Novo Nordisk makes both.

Carbohydrates are interesting. Not only because it’s the A.N.D.s favorite macronutrient, but also because we don’t need it. The liver creates all of the carbohydrate we need. You can skip breakfast. Carbohydrate is the only non-essential macronutrient.

Dietary fat and protein are essential for human health, yet dieticians continue to recommend a low fat and moderate protein diet. Almost like a religion. They recommend at least 150 grams of carbohydrate, otherwise your energy-hungry brain will run out of fuel. They regard anything below 150 grams of carbohydrates as ‘low carb’. The U.S. dietary guidelines recommend between 225 and 325 grams of carbs per day for an adult.

Dietary carbohydrate has an interesting effect on human metabolism. In their most basic form, usually fructose or sucrose, they can provide quick energy, usually followed by an energy dip, or a ‘crash’ a few hours later. Carbohydrates also drive hunger. All of this is facilitated by the hormone insulin. Perversely, obesity and type 2 Diabetes rates have doubled since 1980 when the first dietary guidelines were issued, recommending a low fat, increased carbohydrate diet.

Adhering to an ice age diet isn’t necessary for better health, but it seems the farther we stray from it, the more our health suffers.

— John Myers is a graphic designer with the Cheney Free Press. Email him at [email protected].


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