If you’re a regular reader of Darwinian-Medicine.com, then you’ve probably noticed that there’s a section on the front page called Featured Quote, in which a quote that has to do with evolutionary nutrition, the human microbiome, or another related topic is displayed. I personally choose the quotes that are shown, most of which are statements made by Darwinian physicians and researchers that stood out to me in books and scientific papers I’ve read over the years.
Part of the reason why I share these quotes is that I feel they underline the value and importance of Darwinian medicine. I also think they can help get people interested in evolutionary health and nutrition and encourage truth-seeking & thinking outside of the box. One obviously won’t become an expert in Darwinian medicine simply from reading the Darwinian comments and remarks that are posted on the front page; however, the quotes can help one make sense of various evolutionary concepts and spur further reading and inquiry.
For today’s article, I’ve hand-picked 15 quotes that highlight the core reasons why we as a society desperately need Darwinian medicine. I’ve included a link to the source of each quote, as well as links to additional reading material, so that you can explore the topics further if you so wish.
With that said, let’s jump in with the quotes…
Because H.s. sapiens is the product of an evolutionary process, we cannot hope to have a deep understanding of the major diseases of our age if we ignore our evolutionary past. In the depths of our minds as in our genes, we are all African hunter-gatherers.
– Ángel A. Román-Franco (MD)
The ability of physicians and biomedical researchers to link ultimate evolutionary explanations for disease to their proximate mechanisms shall become increasingly important. Therefore the sooner we revise medical preparation to integrate evolutionary perspectives, the better primed we will be to address the medical challenges of the 21st century.
– Joseph L. Graves, Jr. (PhD) et. al.
Biologically speaking, man is still a wild animal and there is no reason to suppose that his biology is adapted to anything but wild foods. There simply has not been time for any selective evolution to have changed mankind as mankind has changed its pattern of eating.
– Michael Crawford (PhD) & David Marsh
I don’t think it is possible to overemphasize just how important mismatch diseases are. You are most likely going to die from a mismatch disease. You are most likely to suffer from disabilities caused by mismatch diseases. Mismatch diseases contribute to the bulk of health-care spending throughout the world.
– Daniel Lieberman (PhD)
When evolution is included [in medical curricula], it will give students not only a new perspective on disease but also an integrating framework on which to hang a million otherwise arbitrary facts. Darwinian medicine could bring intellectual coherence to the chaotic enterprise of medical education.
– Randolph M. Nesse (MD) & George C. Williams (PhD)
… to achieve the productive validity of a true science, and to begin actually reducing the incidence of chronic degenerative disease, health promotion needs a solid theoretical foundation. For this purpose genomic-cultural evolutionary dissociation is a more logical, simple, and aesthetically satisfying paradigm than any other which can currently be advanced.
– S. Boyd Eaton (MD) et al.
Evolutionary science can be viewed as the fundamental ‘organizing principle’ of all biology. The biological and biomedical sciences can only be fully integrated with the aid of an evolutionary toolkit. Together with the discovery of particulate inheritance (the gene) and the sciences of molecular and developmental biology, evolutionary biology provides the basis of our understanding both of the function of an organism and of its relationship with its physical, social, and biotic environment.
– Peter Gluckman (PhD) et al.
The human genome was selected over millions of years for a lifestyle of foraging and continues to ‘expect’ a diet high in protein, low in fat, and free from novelties such as refined sugars. Even if the search for specific metabolic disease-related genes has posed challenges, it seems undeniable that the bulk of the world’s ballooning waistlines reflect patterns of cultural and dietary change coming into conflict with an increasingly obsolete genotype.
– Peter Gluckman (PhD) et al.
Only when clinicians and researchers take into account the role of evolution in shaping the organism being treated as well as, in many cases, the organism causing the problem or condition will we achieve something that approaches sustainable health care for all people.
– Wenda Trevathan (PhD) et al.
H. sapiens is not a categorically genetically discernible organism, a view dispelled by Darwinian evolutionary gradualism. It is a metaorganism or holobiont that blends back into its ancestry as well as into the terrestrial ecosystem. This complex conformation has generated the unfolding species it is until its eventual extinction.
– Ángel A. Román-Franco (MD)
Hundreds of genes and a myriad of regulatory factors interact with lifestyle to determine whether or not an individual develops complex degenerative disease. Nearly all these genes and also the mechanisms regulating their expression were selected for the circumstances of life in the Paleolithic. An aggressive health promotion campaign based on this rational, easily understood formulation might energize the public and lead a greater proportion to act on recommendations which have hitherto had disappointingly little effect.
– S. Boyd Eaton (PhD) et al.
Unlike our core genome, our microbiome is contagious. Microbial cells can actively or passively leave the body and spread to new habitats and hosts, and from an evolutionary perspective it can be assumed that natural selection has favored those microbes that increase their own transmission. On the other hand, exchange of microbes by intimate contact with conspecifics may offer benefits for the host as well. These features of the microbiome have motivated some authors to hypothesize that social behavior has, at least in part, evolved to enhance transmission of microbes.
– Roman M. Stilling (PhD) et al.
Source: Friends with social benefits: host-microbe interactions as a driver of brain evolution and development?
Related: Microbial genes, brain & behaviour – epigenetic regulation of the gut-brain axis.
In the morning, human organisms are metabolically well prepared for physical activity, independent of energy intake. Accordingly, it seems contradicting that leading authorities throughout the developed world recommend high-glycemic foods for breakfast in order to provide energy for a sedentary daily routine, since cortisol has been generating energy at sunrise for more than 2.5 million years without energy intake.
– Jens Freese (PhD)
Source: The sedentary (r)evolution: Have we lost our metabolic flexibility?
Related: Lifestyle and nutritional imbalances associated with Western diseases: causes and consequences of chronic systemic low-grade inflammation in an evolutionary context
The renowned Russian geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900–1975) said, ‘Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution’. Indeed, much in nutrition does not seem to make sense because most nutritionists have little or no formal training in evolutionary theory, much less human evolution. Nutritionists face the same problem as anyone who is not using an evolutionary model to evaluate biology: fragmented information and no coherent way to interpret the data.
– Loren Cordain (PhD)
Medical teaching would be revolutionized if greater attention were paid to Darwinian medicine and the evolutionary causes of diseases rather than to the proximate antecedents made fashionable by Pasteur.
– Keith Thompson (PhD)