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Should those whose bodies can't handle fast food just die??!!

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Old 01-28-2007, 03:26 PM   #1
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Default Should those whose bodies can't handle fast food just die??!!

I read something interesting and a little disturbing in the New York Times magazine today. Though the focus of the article was on how we've gone from just eating food (like our grandparents) to overanalyzing it and eating "nutrients" (e.g. "food" packages labled with things like omega-3, low fat, etc.), there was a brief mention of an interesting idea. The author was saying that since humans have been around there has been some sort of natural selection for those who could best survive on the diet. For example, people who learned to live with cows eventually developed the ability to digest lactose in milk (and get more nutrients that way), and those in the group that couldn't may have been less likely to survive.

The author then went on to mention that maybe high fat, high cholesterol fast food is our new "diet", and that maybe we should allow for natural selection to select out those who can survive on it! That would be those who can eat "unhealthy" food and not need cardiac bypass surgery, not develop diabetes, and not become obese to the point that it affects their health. The author wasn't heavily supporting the idea, but just brought it up as something to think about.

I don't agree with that philosophy, but it does make you think a little bit! The food that has been available in human habitats has changed over thousands of years. Through famine and plenty or drastic changes in the types of available food and people have just had to deal with it! Whoever survived, survived!

I think that now that we have the power of nutritional knowledge and medicine, we should use what we can to keep us all alive and healthy, but isn't this something interesting to think about! It reminded me of that guy on the Today show a few years ago who ate McDonald's every day for years and had great stats in terms of cholesterol and other health measures! Maybe he should rush out there and have lots of kids! Ha, ha!

What do you think!
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Old 01-28-2007, 04:02 PM   #2
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The author isnt agreeing with that philosopy- its just a simple idea for biology lovers and alike so you have an aspect of darwinism in everything.

I like nutritional info, but I'll be honest- there's got to be some reason why Americans are so nutrient and diet focused in comparison to the rest of the world and our majority still carry excess weight compared to people in other nations. I say, live and eat, eat and live.
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Old 01-28-2007, 04:03 PM   #3
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Speaking as someone who has food intolerances and the mother of a teen with a raging food-related illness, I personally find "adapt or die" to be offensive. Evolutionarily, it's true...that's how all plants and animals have evolved. But since we do have the knowledge to protect ourselves from the damage caused by either generally unhealthy food or healthy food that is unhealthy for a given individual, why not use it? Especially if the simple act of avoidance can be the easiest path. Should I stuff my son with gluten filled products and watch him die to improve the gene pool? Should I have been sterilized before I unknowingly passed on my defective genes which don't process glutin proteins correctly? 1500 years ago that's effectively what happened because no one knew about Celiacs disease and that's why MOST of the population can eat wheat, barley and rye now.

The issue of adapting to fast food is absurd- populations evolve, they don't adapt. Why support the fast food industry and pay the associated medical costs for 5-10 generations so that we end up with a population that can tolerate trans fats when they are NOT a necessary ingredient in the first place?

I read the article that you took this snippet from, and I think you've taken it a bit out of context, Tara. If you look at the problem strictly from the standpoint of evolutionary biology, it is a valid question. But you need to add a dose of bioethics and economics in there as well.

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Old 01-28-2007, 04:05 PM   #4
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I read the article that you took this snippet from, and I think you've taken it a bit out of context, Tara. If you look at the problem strictly from the stanpoint of evolutionary biology, it is a valid question. But you need to add a dose of bioethics and economics in there as well.
Yeah, I'd agree with what Mel said, but its still a very interesting article you brought up.
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Old 01-28-2007, 04:08 PM   #5
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Ha! That's a good one! The trouble is, for selection like that to work, people have to NOT reproduce before they die of the disease, and that doesn't happen with most of these conditions.

Someone else ate McD's for a month and got pretty ill, developed high cholesterol, etc. They made a documentary called "Supersize Me" about it.

There are ideas about eating based on heredity, but they don't seem to be widely applied. All of my heredity is northern European, like, Scandinavian and English, and I think that's why if I try to go completely vegetarian it doesn't work well for me. My ancestors survived by eating meat and fish--there just wasn't much rice and tofu around!

I think the diet of the future is going to be a lot more based on plants and less on animals, so maybe the vegetarians will survive best, who knows?

I'm not reproducing anyway, so for me it's a nonissue!

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Old 01-28-2007, 04:18 PM   #6
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Just wanted to clarify...I DO NOT agree with the philosophy I mentioned above, and I said that the author was not supporting the philosophy. I fully agree that it is out of context and not the focus of the article. It was just a briefly brought up sentence that triggered some interesting ethical questions, that I thought might lead to an interesting discussion.
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Old 01-28-2007, 04:18 PM   #7
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This is the paragraph in question:

Quote:
It might be argued that, at this point in history, we should simply accept that fast food is our food culture. Over time, people will get used to eating this way and our health will improve. But for natural selection to help populations adapt to the Western diet, we’d have to be prepared to let those whom it sickens die. That’s not what we’re doing. Rather, we’re turning to the health-care industry to help us “adapt.” Medicine is learning how to keep alive the people whom the Western diet is making sick. It’s gotten good at extending the lives of people with heart disease, and now it’s working on obesity and diabetes. Capitalism is itself marvelously adaptive, able to turn the problems it creates into lucrative business opportunities: diet pills, heart-bypass operations, insulin pumps, bariatric surgery. But while fast food may be good business for the health-care industry, surely the cost to society — estimated at more than $200 billion a year in diet-related health-care costs — is unsustainable.
You're right, Tara - when you read the paragraph in the context of the entire artlcle, it's clear that Michael Pollan, the author, isn't in any way advocating that people should 'adapt or die' to fast food. All he says is 'it might be argued' and then he goes on to argue against it. Instead of us adapting to fast food, he advocates a radical restructuring of how we relate to the entire process of growing and eating food.

It's an excellent article and well-worth reading. Unhappy Meals The one thing that's stuck in my head all day is - don't eat anything that your great-great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food!
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Old 01-28-2007, 04:27 PM   #8
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I read Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, and its a pretty good book. Whole Foods isnt too happy with their image in the book, but aside from that, its great!
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Old 01-28-2007, 04:36 PM   #9
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interesting (and obnoxious/offensive idea)...the main difference I see, is that in evolutionary history, people were (or were not) adapting to demand and scarcity in nature. Now the food industry is asking our bodies to adapt to genetically modified foods, byproducts, and chemicals that in many ways do not have anything to do with "Nature". I guess I agree with Meg's quote above about not eating anything your grandmother wouldnt recognize!
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Old 01-28-2007, 05:42 PM   #10
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Sci-fi has played this concept for years. If the world gets soooo polluted will humans adapt and actually be unable to breathe fresh air? (In that movie/book in order to survive being in the year 1990 something travellers from the future had to smoke cigarettes to keep their lungs smoggy)

But there is no reason why transfats and junk food HAVE to be our main diet. It is romantic to think that humans COULD adapt to this diet, but there is no pressing reason why they SHOULD. The fact that they are for some people is unfortunate. The foods and processes that make fast food are not terribly sustainable. They waste an awful lot of good food and take a lot of energy to produce. I doubt the current earth could provide enough fast food to feed every human on the planet every day, every meal.
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Old 01-28-2007, 06:14 PM   #11
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My grandmother made liverwurst sandwiches with schmaltz (chicken fat), endless cakes and pastries with margerine because it was then believed to be healthier than butter, and believed that noodles and sour cream would cure anything that her chicken soup with matzoh balls didn't. My grandfather died of heart disease. I think we have to go back a bit farther than our own grandparents. And I'm probably older than most of you....

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Old 01-28-2007, 06:18 PM   #12
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The phlosophy is definitely something interesting to think about. But its not right to see everything in black or white. The gray zone always exists and is the biggest! There are multiple factors.... Yes, Evolution is a very complex thing and nature does exhibit survival of the fitest but mind you, the life-expectancy of humans has increased and is increasing always even with all the cholesterol, cardiovascular problems, increasing diabetes, bad food etc etc. Earlier man lived not more than 30-40 years even with the most healthy raw food, running, lean body but now he is living more than 75-80 years on an average worldwide...so I think food is not the most important factor.(does anyone agree?)

its true US has maximum obesity rates even though US popultion focuses most on healthy food...but doesnt US also have one of the longest life-expectancies than most countries....???

I'll just say its very complex!
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Old 01-28-2007, 06:20 PM   #13
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I had a friend who lived to age 92, and when she was growing up on a farm in upstate NY, they used to pour cream on their vegetables instead of using butter, although they also had plenty of that. This woman just basically died of old age, not heart disease. But back then, early part of the last century, and living on a farm, they ate fresh foods and natural foods. A fast-food hamburger would not have been considered food, I think!

Mel, are you sure your grandmother wasn't right about the noodles and sour cream?


P.S. Andorra, Japan, and San Marino have the highest life expectancies--all over 80 years old.

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Old 01-28-2007, 09:26 PM   #14
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Quote:
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My grandmother made liverwurst sandwiches with schmaltz (chicken fat), endless cakes and pastries with margerine because it was then believed to be healthier than butter, and believed that noodles and sour cream would cure anything that her chicken soup with matzoh balls didn't. My grandfather died of heart disease. I think we have to go back a bit farther than our own grandparents. And I'm probably older than most of you....

Mel
Definately! I was at my grandparents' Saturday. We had a housefull of people there. They threw together a quick dinner. Opened a can of greens, added grease to them and fried. Pealed potatoes, boiled them, slathered them in butter. Opened a can of white beans and heated them. Grabbed some hotdog buns, covered the halves with butter and garlic SALT and baked, and boiled some macaroni and added tomatoes. Ok, so the tomatoes were healthy...cept they were loaded in sodium. Ahh well.

I was only surprised that they didn't make biscuits. It's a family tradition...bread bread and more bread. Biscuits are with every meal...with lots and lots of white flour. And a cake ALWAYS sits on the counter. In fact, grandma (with her diabetes) buys them when they're on sale and freezes them so they always have them around.
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Old 01-28-2007, 11:48 PM   #15
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If you ever read the later "after the books" stuff about Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little house on the prarie), what they ate was horrendous by nutrition standards. I have the cookbook, and what she and Almanzo ate was high in calories. And Almanzo was rail thin his whole life and they both lived into their late 80's and 90;s.

On the other hand, even if you live on a farm now, you dont do near the physical labor that you did on a farm then with no engines. Its very possible that for him 4000 calories was a normal day.
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