Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Why Limit Carbs?

There are several reasons for choosing a low-carb lifestyle. One of them is that our bodies don't handle large amounts of carbohydrate very well.

Consider our hunter-gatherer ancestors. They obtained most of their calories from hunting and fishing, which provided both protein and fat. But their carbs came primarily from nuts and fruit. It takes a long time to crack open and eat a significant number of nuts. In pre-agricultural days, fruits were small and seasonal. If our ancestors were to survive, their bodies had to be able to convert the nutrients found in protein and fat into everything needed to sustain life. And sure enough, all the biochemical pathways are present in our bodies for that to happen.

Agriculture has only been a significant factor for the past 10,000 or so years of human existence. Agriculture is what has made large amounts of carbohydrates available to us. And, unfortunately, our bodies have not adapted very well to abundant carbohydrates.

(The man in the picture is a descendant of the ancient hunter-gatherer "San" people in the Kalahari. Photo by South African tourism.)


Socky Sockpuppet said...

What about vitamin C? If hunter-gatherers ate primarily protein and fat, how did they get vitamin C?

Socky Sockpuppet

Stargazey said...

The Inuit (Eskimo) people have been studied specifically because they ate meat and very little vegetable matter. Northern explorers who adopted Inuit eating patterns typically were quite healthy, whereas explorers who retained Western eating patterns became sick and developed scurvy.

When this was studied, scientists discovered that the meats eaten by the Inuit contained significant amounts of vitamin C. Also, there appears to be something about a high-fat high-protein diet that makes a lower amount of vitamin C adequate to maintain good health.