Irene Heinz/John LaPorte Given Prof. Emeritus of Premed. Sciences
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BIOL 0222 - Human Nutrition-Evolution
Human Nutrition from an Evolutionary Perspective
Michael Pollan’s mantra – “Eat food; not too much; mainly plants!” – sums up this course. The mantra raises more questions than it answers, however. For example, does it apply to all humans? Are some diets effective for some people and not others? Should we eat like our ancestors? What did they eat? What nutritional problems may have accompanied the dietary shift from a hunting/gathering to agricultural and modern sedentary modes of existence. We will discuss possible answers to these and other questions and approach human nutrition from an evolutionary perspective, derived in part from Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, and the archeological record. We will also examine the diets of “modern primitive societies”, as well as those of our more recent ethnic forbears and of our more distant primate relatives. Using these perspectives and our current understanding of nutrition and human biology, we will critically examine the ways we eat, how we possibly ought to eat. We will also discuss the effect of exercise on gene activity and, possibly, such topics as the role of fats and lipoproteins in heart disease and the genetic variability of various human populations as it relates to nutrition. Emphasis will be placed on a critical approach to both written and virtual forms of scientific and popular resource material, and students will write 7 short papers and a longer term paper and will make oral presentations of nutritional topics. (BIOL 0140 and BIOL 0145; or by approval).