The Evolution of Nutrition

Provided by Grand Canyon University

No carb, low sugar, high fat – oh my! What is the ultimate human diet? How should we be eating to maximize nutrition and stay healthy? There is so much research and information out there today that it can seem impossible to wade through it all to find answers and create a healthy lifestyle plan.

While food used to be scarce and consumed solely for survival, we now live in a “food-centric” culture. There’s such a focus on food and so many dining options, in fact, that we have more overweight people than ever before. The CDC now says that almost 40 percent of adults in the U.S. are considered obese. Our culture has gone from one extreme to the other. We’ve moved from using food as necessary energy – simply a means to stay alive – to nurturing our bodies with different food options to overeating and using food as a crutch. We now have an abundance of edible options, and that’s led to other problems.

Between obesity and eating disorders, humans today have a complex relationship with food. Of course, when processed foods were first introduced, it was a sign of our advancing society. Our grandparents appreciated Twinkies because they were a new rare treat. Then, those processed foods continued to expand along with portion sizes and they became part of our daily diets. The food manufacturing industry has provided us with modern safety measures and transportation methods, but it has also made that cheap “junk food” too commonplace. In response, people are trying to find a healthier way to live again. That means many diet trends are popping up:
o High protein or fat, low carb: Paleo, Whole30, Keto
o Plant-based: Vegan, Raw Food
o Restricted portions: Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem
o Fasting: Faster Cleanse, time-restricted feeding, intermittent fasting

There are many benefits to putting more thought into how we eat. Increased food awareness leads to healthier bodies and more energy. But diets such as those listed above can be tough because they’re often temporary (bad habits return!) or they leave out key nutrients that your body needs. Overall, the best way to eat is holistically and mostly healthy: to listen to your body and give it what it needs. Currently, many people are moving away from over-processed everything back to the farm-to-table approach that our country started with. We’re looking past clever advertising and actually reading labels. We’re monitoring sugar, eating more vegetables and asking where our meat was raised.

Michael Pollan, journalist and author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, offers great wisdom on nutrition and the food conundrum. He sums up the ideal healthy diet mindset as: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” He also notes, “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”

The study of nutrition, health and human bodies is ever changing. It’s a fascinating field and Grand Canyon University is proud to offer degree programs that empower our students to dive into the science of health and the evolution of nutrition. We offer a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science with emphases in health education or sports performance.

If you’re interested in learning more about nutrition and health sciences, or want to advance your education to inspire others to do so, visit gcu.edu/edcor today.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who complete the program, and other important information, please visit our website at gcu.edu/disclosures. Grand Canyon University © 2019 – All Rights Reserved. For the most up-to-date information about admission requirements, tuition, scholarships and more, visit gcu.edu. GCU, while reserving its lawful rights in light of its Christian mission, is committed to maintaining an academic environment that is free from unlawful discrimination. Further detail on GCU’s Non-Discrimination policies can be found at gcu.edu/titleIX.