Originally Posted by JLx
I think this is a popular criticism, one that I thought wasn't convincingly rebutted in Gary Taubes' books, though I have to confess I don't remember exactly what he said. But we know that traditional diets have great variety and they seem to avoid modern diseases anyway. I think there's a lot we don't know yet, except "modern" food seems to corrupt all populations.
I don't have a quote from Taubes. What I remember from his lectures is that he always replies that there's little sugar in their diet. Personally, I think it's also the quantity of rice, there must be little of that too.
On the point of variety, I think it's true, but not necessarily in terms of macros, i.e. more carbs in some, less in others, etc. Instead, I think variety is a function of the local environment, no two traditional populations have access to the same foods. Conversely, each traditional diet is rather monotonous precisely for the same reason - local environment.
From recent diet experiments, we can conclude that it's the carbs, mostly wheat and sugar, that makes us sick with the diseases of civilization. Therefore, we can also reasonably assume that in spite of what we believe about certain traditional diets that contain carbs like rice and certain grains, they must not contain much carbs anyway, at least not as much as our standard crap, but most especially very little sugar and wheat if at all.
From Weston Price's book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, we can easily see a pattern emerging from the data. While there is great variety, and while there are carbs, there is little sugar and wheat, there's always at least some meat and fat, and all traditional populations enjoyed perfect health, while the same people who started to eat a modern diet promptly developed all the diseases of civilization.
It just occured to me to make the analogy of ancient past where sugar and wheat were very expensive because they were very work-intensive. Well, that's pretty much the situation traditional populations are in. Our sugar and wheat today is highly subsidized and highly industrialized (and maybe also genetically modified for high yield like semi-dwarf wheat for example), so it's very cheap and plentiful. No traditional population would have access to any of this.