EvoS Speaker Espouses Evolutionary Diet

Robb Wolf (40 yrs. old) is one of the world’s leading experts on Paleolithic nutrition and author of the New York Times Best Selling book "The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet". Robb Wolf came to SUNY New Paltz to discuss how evolution affects our health. Photo by Jessica Dohanyos

To the average college student, a diet that bans beer, pizza and potato chips may sound unappetizing. But what if by steering clear of certain foods you could avoid cancer, diabetes and heart disease?

According to Robb Wolf, an expert in Paleolithic nutrition and author of The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet, eating like our hunter-gatherer ancestors can help you to live longer by avoiding these conditions. The diet can also help you lose weight and have more energy, Wolf said.

Wolf spoke at SUNY New Paltz Feb. 27 as part of the Evolutionary Studies Program’s ongoing lecture series. The seminar, entitled “Darwinian Medicine: Maybe There IS Something to this Evolution Thing,” drew an audience of students and visitors almost filling each of the 484 seats in Lecture Center 100.

A former research biochemist, Wolf has now shared nutrition and strength conditioning advice with NASA, the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps. Even Aaron Rodgers, quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, swears by the Paleo diet, according to Wolf.

Wolf said he started on the Paleo diet, which refers to the Paleolithic Era, 2,000,000 – 10,000 B.C., in 1998. He was searching for a cure to his own health problems, such as high blood pressure and Celiac disease, a condition that prevents the small intestine from absorbing important parts of food.

“It was an idea of applying evolutionary biology, applying an ancestral diet to my situation, that ultimately saved my life,” Wolf said.

The diet of pre-agrarian hunter-gatherers varied regionally and throughout the era, but mainly consisted of fruits, vegetables, roots, tubers, nuts and seeds and lean, wild meat, seafood and poultry, according to Wolf. Adhering to the Paleo diet today means avoiding all sugar, starch, grains, legumes, dairy products and processed foods.

Exercise also plays a large part in keeping fit, Wolf said, as our pre-agrarian ancestors were constantly on the move. Wolf said our current health problems are mainly obesity and obesity-related conditions.

“In our natural state we are lean, strong and healthy,” he said.

The Paleo Solution was written by Robb Wolf (40, Paleolithic nutrition and author), who came to speak at SUNY New Paltz campus. This book is a New York Times bestseller and was sold at the reception following Wolf’s Darwinian Medicine Lecture. Photo by Jessica Dohanyos

It was the transition from foraging into an agrarian lifestyle that begot modern disease, Wolf said, but the typical Western diet, coupled with a sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise, is killing us.

By the end of the hour-long lecture, third-year psychology major Bianca Blaikner said she was convinced.

Blaikner said she had never read about the Paleo diet before, but attended the seminar because she wanted to know more. She said she already avoids gluten, fast food and dairy, but was interested in the evidence Wolf presented in support of the full Paleo diet.

“I’m inspired about furthering my health goals,” Blaikner said.

Terry Grandis, fifth-year psychology major, said she is trying out the Paleo diet for professor of psychology Alice Andrews’ Evolutionary Studies Seminar.

“If it can make you live longer, it’s worth the sacrifice in the short-term for long-term satisfaction,” Grandis said. “It’s about controlling your own fate.”

According to Andrews, students have the option to eat Paleo-friendly throughout March and April, keeping a journal of their experiences and then writing a paper that documents their experience and how it relates to their understanding of the field.

Andrews said she has followed modified versions of the Paleo diet off-and-on for decades, recently only avoiding wheat.

“I’ve never removed all grains from my diet, but Robb Wolf inspired me to do so,” Andrews said. “I’m excited to see how I feel after I do. I already feel better after a couple of days!”

For information, including links to further reading and Robb Wolf’s website: Click Here

EvoS Lecture Series, Spring 2012 Semester: Upcoming Guest Speakers

April 2
Why Ask, “How?”
Adam Goldstein, Ph.D.
Iona College
Department of Philosophy
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
CSB Auditorium

 April 9
Where Personality Meets the Page: Evolution and Adaptive Self-Expression in Alice Andrews’s Trine Erotic
David Michelson
Binghamton University
Department of English
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
CSB Auditorium

April 30
Evolved to Cabaret: Expressing Human Behavioral Evolution Through Costume Design
Andrea Varga & Laura Johnsen
SUNY New Paltz
Department of Theatre Arts
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
CSB Auditorium