"For 99 percent of the time humans have been on earth, our ancestors ate and evolved on diets of plants and very lean wild game," writes Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D. During the last few thousand years, humans converted from hunters and gatherers to farmers, and finally to automobile drivers headed for fast-food restaurants. Somer's point is that although our behavior and eating habits have changed, our basic biology remains the same as our hunger-gatherer ancestors. We are "genetically programmed to thrive on a diet of nuts, seeds, leaves, honey, and wild game, but not gorging on doughnuts, cheese puffs, domesticated beef, soda pop."
We would be healthier, says Somer, if we would eat as our ancestors did when there was no cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, or diabetes. In The Origin Diet, she describes how to translate to modern life the five "Stone Age Secrets":
- Stay strong and lean.
- Focus on wild (natural) foods.
- Stay healthy and alert.
- Handle stress quickly, then relax.
- Belong to a supportive tribe of family and friends.
Although the premise is unusual and interesting, much of Somer's advice is similar to what you hear from all the major health and medical associations: eat lots of fruits and vegetables, avoid processed foods, eat starchy carbohydrates and grains, eat fiber, cut back on saturated fat, drink water, exercise vigorously, and manage stress.
Somer is not recommending that you hunt your own mastodon (although wild game is only 4 percent fat, compared with 25 to 30 percent fat in domesticated meat); you can substitute chicken breast and salmon (while salmon is higher in fat than other types of fish, it's high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids). Eat more produce and fiber, she urges us. Graze, don't gorge. Exercise. "The secret to regaining our evolutionary balance is to glean the best of our ancient ancestors' eating habits and combine those with the safe, abundant, nutritious foods available today," says Somer. The book includes an appendix of recipes such as Garbanzo Cilantro Dip, Chili-Glazed Chicken, Crusty Basil Salmon, and Tofu Confetti Burritos (no bison burgers!).
Somer, contributing editor to Shape and Eating Well and former consultant to Good Morning America, has written several other books on nutrition, including Food & Mood: The Complete Guide to Eating Well and Feeling Your Best (with Nancy Snyderman), Age-Proof Your Body: Your Complete Guide to Lifelong Vitality, and Nutrition for Women: The Complete Guide. --Joan Price
From Publishers Weekly
"Genetically speaking, our bodies need the same amount of nutrients that were needed by our Paleolithic ancestors," Somer claims. Registered dietician, health writer and self-described "research junkie" (she spent the last 20 years reading thousands of nutrition and anthropological studies), Somer (Age-Proof Your Body; Nutrition for Women; etc.) takes a novel approach to the age-old problem of dieting and recommends readers get back to their evolutionary roots, literally, and conscientiously maintain a diet of countless fruits, vegetables, roots, water and some animal meat (although she does not favor red meat). Somer presents a workout plan that's specific, gradual and measurable, as well as recipes, menus, a shopping list and plenty of coaching, motivation and inspiring tips (e.g., people should avoid drinking alcohol when eating out because doing so makes them eat more, but for those who prefer to, she recommends that they drink two glasses of water for every glass of alcohol). It's a demanding program for weight loss and maintaining that loss for the long term, but what she says makes senseAand is convincing. Somer's program is a diet for people willing to make a definite commitment, but, as she explains, readers can make significant improvements in their overall health and fitness by implementing even some of her advice. Agent, David Smith. (Jan. 3).
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.