Evolutionary Diet Author Cordain to Speak at UW Friday

October 31, 2011
Loren Cordain

Researcher and author Loren Cordain will discuss "Origins and Evolution of the Western Diet: Health Implications for the 21st Century," at 4:10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, in the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture auditorium.

The talk is based upon an article he and colleagues published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2005. Cordain's research has received widespread attention because of the popularity of his four books ("The Paleo Diet"; "The Paleo Diet for Athletes"; "The Paleo Diet Cookbook"; and "The Dietary Cure for Acne").

 A professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Cordain for 20 years has studied the evolutionary and anthropological basis for diet, health and well-being in modern humans. His scientific publications have examined the nutritional characteristics of worldwide hunter-gatherer diets plus the nutrient composition of wild plant and animal foods consumed by foraging humans.

Cordain and colleagues have made unique contributions to the understanding of optimal diets for contemporary people. Specifically, his international research team has uncovered previously unrecognized dietary triggers for acne and myopia and has shown how certain nutritional characteristics of the western diet are responsible for these ubiquitous "diseases of civilization."

"In the United States and most western countries, diet-related chronic diseases represent the single largest cause of morbidity and mortality," Cordain wrote. "These diseases are epidemic in contemporary, westernized populations and typically afflict 50-65 percent of the adult population, yet are rare or non-existent in hunter-gatherers and other less westernized people."

Although both scientists and lay people alike frequently identify a single dietary element as the cause of chronic disease, such as saturated fat causes heart disease or salt causes high blood pressure, Cordain said "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."

The UW Department of Anthropology sponsors Friday's talk.

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