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Loren Cordain - Origins and Evolution of the Western Diet: Health Implications for the 21st Century


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There is growing awareness that the profound changes in the environment (e.g. in diet and other lifestyle conditions) that began with the introduction of agriculture and animal husbandry approximately 10,000 years ago occurred too recently on an evolutionary timescale for the human genome to adjust. In conjunction with this discordance between our ancient, genetically-determined biology and the nutritional, cultural and activity patterns of contemporary western populations, many of the so-called diseases of civilization have emerged. In the U.S. and most western countries, diet-related chronic diseases represent the single largest cause of morbidity and mortality. These diseases are epidemic in contemporary, westernized populations and typically afflict 50-65 % of the adult population, yet are rare or non-existent in hunter-gatherers and other less westernized people. Evidence gleaned over the past three decades now indicates that virtually all so-called diseases of civilization have multifactorial dietary elements that underlie their etiology, along with other environmental agents and genetic susceptibility. This talk will trace the origins of the Western diet and discuss the health implications.

Dr. Cordain is a Professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. His research emphasis over the past 15 years has focused upon the evolutionary and anthropological basis for diet, health and well being in modern humans.

Dr. Cordain's scientific publications have examined the nutritional characteristics of worldwide hunter-gatherer diets as well as the nutrient composition of wild plant and animal foods consumed by foraging humans. Over the past five years his work has focused upon the adverse health effects of the high dietary glycemic load that is ubiquitous in the typical western diet. A number of his recent papers have proposed an endocrine link between dietary induced hyperinsulinemia and acne. Currently, Dr. Cordain's research team is exploring the connection between dietary
elements that increase intestinal permeability (primarily saponins and lectins) and autoimmune disease, particularly multiple sclerosis.

Dr. Cordain is the author of more than 100 peer review publications, many of which were funded by both private and governmental agencies. He is the recent recipient of the Scholarly Excellence award at Colorado State University for his contributions into understanding optimal human nutrition. He has lectured extensively world wide, and has written three popular books (The Paleo Diet, John Wiley & Sons; The Paleo Diet for Athletes, Rodale Press; The Dietary Cure for Acne) summarizing his research findings.



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