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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

WashU: Eating More Like Our Ancestors Would Improve Human Health

Malnutrition problems can be traced to poor quality diets lacking in diversity, a very recent phenomenon in evolutionary history, according to a new paper from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.


[Photo: Dr. Lora Iannotti]

The paper describes the “genome-nutrition divergence,” a framework building on the discordance theory of Drs. Melvin Konner and S. Boyd Eaton, positing that there is a misalignment of modern diets and the genome formed through time. Evident in the divergence are shared risk factors for both under- and over-nutrition.

“Earlier diets were highly diverse and nutrient dense, in contrast to modern food systems in which monotonous diets of staple cereals and ultraprocessed foods play a more prominent role,” wrote Dr. Lora Iannotti, the senior author, associate professor and associate dean for Public Health at the Brown School.

“There is a need to better align food systems with dietary patterns that have existed in our evolutionary past,” she said.

The paper was published Oct. 6 in Nutrition Reviews.

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