The Origin Diet: How Eating Like Our Stone Age Ancestors Will Maximize Your Health

The Origin Diet: How Eating Like Our Stone Age Ancestors Will Maximize Your Health

by Elizabeth Somer

From a leading nutrition expert comes a proven health and weight-loss plan that takes us back to age-old nutritional basics

Scientific evidence reveals that in prehistoric times-before the high-carb diet, before the all-protein diet-obesity and chronic-disease rates were dramatically lower. Today's sedentary way of life and fast-food culture is out of balance


From a leading nutrition expert comes a proven health and weight-loss plan that takes us back to age-old nutritional basics

Scientific evidence reveals that in prehistoric times-before the high-carb diet, before the all-protein diet-obesity and chronic-disease rates were dramatically lower. Today's sedentary way of life and fast-food culture is out of balance with our ancestral roots. Based on Elizabeth Somer's extensive research, The Origin Diet builds on the wisdom of our bodies to help us get back to our beginnings and live healthier lives.

Somer advises small, painless changes in the way we eat to help align the body with its evolutionary needs. She introduces the Origin Pyramid, an invaluable model for preparing easy, nutritious meals, and encourages us to follow twelve Getting Back to Basics guidelines for eating and exercising.

The Origin Diet also offers a tempting, healthful array of recipes and menus, plus lifestyle tips that are easy to incorporate into today's time-challenged schedules.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Brimming with solid research and sound advice, The Origin Diet will bring you back to your dietary roots by revealing why you must eat like your ancestors. All you have to do is open this book, and you'll be opening up endless possibilities for a healthy, long, and vital life."-Debra Waterhouse, M.P.H., R.D., author of Outsmarting the Female Fat Cell and Outsmarting Fatigue

Debra Waterhouse
. . . open this book, and you'll be opening up endless possibilities for a healthy, long, and vital life.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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 sense--and 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 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Nutritionists have long noted that our metabolism was established some 40,000 years ago when we lived as hunter-gatherers and that our bodies need to heed it to run most efficiently. Somer (Age-Proof Your Body), a contributing editor of Shape magazine, points out that most of us live on fewer than 20 main food crops (out of the over 50,000 edible plants on Earth) and that the quality of the protein of hybridized domesticated meat animals has been compromised by processed feeds and antibiotics. In response, the author has developed a food and exercise program that can approximate the variety of food and exercise for which our bodies were designed. She advocates large amounts of vegetables, fruits, and grains; six to ten small meals throughout the day; and regular exercise. She offers useful hints on gradually changing habits rather than making sudden drastic changes. She also reveals how to keep the foods that you love (but shouldn't) at levels that satisfy without compromising your overall nutritional plan. Menus and recipes are included. This diet plan is based on sound nutritional theory and offers an excellent alternative to the fads. Highly recommended.--Susan B. Hagloch, Tuscarawas Cty. P.L., New Philadelphia, OH Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.34(w) x 8.42(h) x 0.87(d)

Read an Excerpt

Finally, it all made sense. I leaned back after reading an article on evolutionary nutrition and sighed in relief. My mind was racing with possibilities. So, before you bite into your next double cheeseburger or quench your thirst with a cola, I'd like a moment of your time. What I have to say will change your life!

I'm a research junkie. I read hundreds of studies every month and have done so for more than twenty years. As editor-in-chief of the newsletter Nutrition Alert, contributing editor to Shape magazine, and frequent correspondent for national news media, I pride myself on presenting accurate, timely nutrition information. From my thirty-two file drawers brimming with research, I can pull reams of studies that show vegetables lower cancer risk, saturated fat causes heart disease, fiber curbs appetite, calcium strengthens bones, or any other topic you desire. I have read the reports that obesity is on the rise and can describe in detail every theory to explain this epidemic. My files are jammed with research on how frailty associated with aging has more to do with sedentary living than with getting older, and that belonging to a support group can lower disease risks. I know the studies that formed the basis for the dietary guidelines and the Food Guide Pyramid. But, up until that one article, I had understood only the whats of nutrition. I was filled with a thousand whys:

—Why do vegetables lower cancer risk?
—Why does saturated fat accumulate in arteries, blocking blood flow, and leading to heart disease, while fish oils lower our risk?

—Why do our bodies absorb only 10 percent of the iron in our diets (which places up to 80 percent of women during the childbearing years at risk for iron deficiency), but up to 95 percent of the fat?

—Why does our risk for many diseases, from cancer to cataracts, increase as we age?

—Why do we gain weight when our bodies are so perfectly designed to be fit?

The article on evolutionary nutrition explained the whys simply and clearly. It was an "Ah-ha" moment when decades of research fell into place. It began my quest to know more. The end result is this book.

Hello Grandpa!

Still haven't touched that cheeseburger or cola? Good. Now stop for a moment and think back. I mean way back. Neither of these foods, or any processed food for that matter, ever graced the lips of even one of our ancient ancestors, dating back tens of thousands of generations.

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. These diets served our ancestors well. In fact, our Paleolithic grandparents lived free of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, cataracts, and other modern diseases. They also remained lean and strong throughout life. The most fit, the smartest, and the strongest lived to pass on their genes from one generation to the next like an unbroken chain. Today, that nutritional legacy lives in us.

Agriculture developed about ten thousand years ago, followed later by the Industrial Revolution. These two events brought cataclysmic changes to our dining habits, converting us from hunters and gatherers to farmers, then to drivers of cars with automatic gears and power steering. These last few thousand years are only a minute in evolutionary time, accounting for little or no change in our biological makeup.

Therein lies the problem. It takes tens of thousands of years for the body to adapt to even small changes in the environment. Our biochemistry and physiology remain fine-tuned to diets and activity levels that existed tens of thousands of years ago. Escalating obesity and disease rates are just some of the results when genetics collides with lifestyle. In essence, we remain cave dwellers dressed in designer jeans, genetically programmed to thrive on a diet of nuts, seeds, leaves, honey, and wild game, but gorging on doughnuts, cheese puffs, domesticated beef, soda pop . . . well, you get the picture.

The more I researched the anthropological and archeological data, the more my years of nutrition research fell into place. We don't need vegetables just because they're good for us. It's when we don't supply the body with the fuels and building blocks it needs that the system breaks down, just as our cars would stall if we were to pour sand or grease into their fuel tanks. Our diets today are killing us because they are as alien to our bodies as breathing in carbon monoxide! Suddenly, it all made sense. If we returned to our dietary roots (and tubers) and ate in balance with our evolutionary makeup, we'd live in harmony with our bodies, experience an extraordinary state of good health, and sidestep just about every chronic disease, as well as maintain a healthy weight and live longer!

My Six Promises

My background in nutrition gave me the edge when reading the hundreds of studies on archeology and anthropology that went into researching this book. I know how to decipher this information in light of today's nutritional needs and lifestyles. I also knew how to glean the best research that would give the most thorough and accurate account of what our bodies need, both in light of evolution as well as in today's modern world. What I learned was:

When we eat and move in balance with the way our bodies evolved, we do much more than just avoid disease. We achieve a level of health and vitality that many of us have never before experienced. That level of health is not only possible, it's embedded in our cells. It's our inherent biological right.

Don't worry. You don't have to live in a cave, hunt woolly mammoths, or eat only wild greens and roots to achieve these goals. You can still have your favorite recipes, eat in restaurants, and order takeout. On the other hand, the Origin Diet in this book will ask you to consider giving up (or at least cutting back on) foods like bacon, soda pop, and cream (not common items on a Stone Age plate!).

The rewards are worth it. Adopt even a few suggestions in the Origin Diet and I guarantee you'll feel better within weeks. Practice most of the guidelines and you will see noticeable changes in your weight and disease risk, such as lowering of blood cholesterol levels. Take on the entire program and you'll experience significant improvements in how you feel, think, and live. You might even reverse the damage already done by past poor eating habits, turning back the clock on numerous diseases, such as atherosclerosis and bone loss. All because you'll be fueling your body with the foods on which it thrives.

This is much more than a hope. It is a promise. Live by the Five Stone Age Secrets and follow the advice in the Original Dozen discussed in this book, and I promise

—you will reduce your risk for all major age-related diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, osteoporosis, cataracts, and even depression;
—you will think more clearly, including having better memory throughout life;

—you will stack the deck in favor of living longer and spending those extra years healthier;

—you will lose weight and keep the weight off;

—you will have more energy; and

—you will enjoy life more.

A Tried-and-True Plan

Those aren't empty promises. Many people have taken me up on the challenge and found that the results are even better than they imagined. People who have adopted the Origin Diet and Workout Program in this book have lost weight (up to thirty pounds in fifteen weeks!), lowered their risks for heart disease (including dramatic reductions in blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure), increased their energy, found they slept better, had fewer cravings for sweets, experienced improvements in mood, and even reduced medications. It makes sense. Reconnect with your body's ancient heritage, fuel your body in harmony with your evolutionary roots, and you will maximize your health, energy, and mental ability.

We influence our destinies by the foods we eat. You can sidestep disease, boost your energy, maintain your mental clarity, lose unwanted extra pounds, live longer, and enjoy life more if you return to a style of eating more closely attuned to the natural needs of your body. You'll find out how in the following chapters. Enjoy your journey back to the future!

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D., is a nationally recognized nutrition expert and award-winning writer. She appears regularly on The Today Show and is a former consultant to Good Morning America, a contributing editor to both Shape and Eating Well magazines, and the author of six books. She lives with her family in Salem, Oregon.

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