Courses Details

NUTR610: Evolutionary Nutrition: Implications for Human Health

  • Graduate level
  • Residential
  • Fall term(s) for residential students;
  • 2 credit hour(s) for residential students;
  • Instructor(s): Edward Ruiz-Narvaez (Residential);
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Advisory Prerequisites: NUTR 630 and NUTR 631
  • Description: Dietary and cultural shifts/innovations (for example, cooking, domestication of plants and animals) during human origins may have been acted as evolutionary forces shaping the physiology and metabolism as well as the genome of early humans. Exposure to modern diets may result in a mismatch of old adaptations to a new environment, potentially leading to so-called "diseases of civilization" such as hypertension, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. In this course, we will discuss human nutrition from an evolutionary perspective. We will critically review scientific theories (e.g. thrifty gene hypothesis) explaining how mismatch between old adaptations and modern diets affect human health. This evolutionary analysis may shed new light on the epidemics of "diseases of civilization" and may help to inform public health interventions. Students are expected to be very active participants of class discussions.
  • Learning Objectives: After taking this course, students will: -Be able to explain human adaptations to dietary shifts over evolutionary time. -Be able to discuss scientific theories about the mismatch between modern diets and old adaptations. -Understand how an evolutionary perspective may help to explain current population health problems.
Edward Ruiz-Narvaez