Animal v. plant foods in human diets and health

Animal v. plant foods in human diets and health - AMA...

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Proceedings of the Nutrition Society (1999), 58 , 211–218 211 Abbreviations: USDA, US Department of Agriculture. *Corresponding author: Professor Marion Nestle, fax +1 212 995 4194, email CAB International The Summer Meeting of the Nutrition Society was held at the University of Surrey on 29 June–2 July 1998 ‘Meat or wheat for the next millennium?’ Plenary Lecture Animal v . plant foods in human diets and health: is the historical record unequivocal? Marion Nestle Profes or Marion Nestle, Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, New York University, 35 W. 4th Street, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10012–1172, USA fax +1 212 995 4194, email An ideal diet is one that promotes optimal health and longevity. Throughout history, human societies have developed varieties of dietary patterns based on available food plants and animals that successfully supported growth and reproduction. As economies changed from scarcity to abundance, principal diet-related diseases have shifted from nutrient deficiencies to chronic diseases related to dietary excesses. This shift has led to increasing scientific consensus that eating more plant foods but fewer animal foods would best promote health. This consensus is based on research relating dietary factors to chronic disease risks, and to observations of exceptionally low chronic disease rates among people consuming vegetarian, Mediterranean and Asian diets. One challenge to this consensus is the idea that palaeolithic man consumed more meat than currently recommended, and that this pattern is genetically determined. If such exists, a genetic basis for ideal proportions of plant or animal foods is difficult to determine; hominoid primates are largely vegetarian, current hunter–gatherer groups rely on foods that can be obtained most conveniently, and the archeological record is insufficient to determine whether plants or animals predominated. Most evidence suggests that a shift to largely plant-based diets would reduce chronic disease risks among industrialized and rapidly- industrializing populations. To accomplish this shift, it will be necessary to overcome market-place barriers and to develop new policies that will encourage greater consump- tion of fruits, vegetables and grains as a means to promote public health. Optimal diets: Dietary recommendations: Plant-based diets: Palaeolithic diets An optimal diet, by definition, is one that maximizes health and longevity and, therefore, prevents nutrient deficiencies, reduces risks for diet-related chronic diseases, and is composed of foods that are available, safe and palatable. Throughout the course of human history, societies have developed a great variety of dietary patterns that take advantage of the food plants and animals available to them as a result of geography, climate, trade or economic status. It is evident that the ancestral diets of societies surviving to the present era must have provided sufficient energy and nutri-
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Animal v. plant foods in human diets and health - AMA...

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