Rice and beans, minus the rice
Whereas the Hunter Gatherer diet is a throwback to a bygone ancestral era, the Forager can survive quite nicely with a Volvo station wagon and a keen eye for good eating. Foragers are unlikely to have issues with histamine and therefore will have fewer food restrictions than some Hunter Gatherers, but this is still a low sugar, low glycemic diet that emphasizes healthy omega-3 and monounsaturated fats.
The big potholes for Foragers are sugar and dairy, and to a lesser extent saturated fats. Dairy is pretty straightforward, as Foragers usually score in our matrix as very likely lactose intolerant. Unless you include eggs in the dairy category, we aren’t aware of any cheese that is available for gathering on a long walk through the woods. Same goes for refined sugar. As such, Foragers should do their best to only load the back of the Volvo with whole foods, but this diet needn’t be Vegan. Foragers can watch the Game Changers Documentary all they’d like, but we still want to see them eating fish and even the occasional piece of grass fed beef if it tickles their fancy. This doesn’t mean these folks should add butter to their coffee, they simply don’t have the fat score for that kind of luxury.
Grain free diets are all the rage, and it’s the Forager genotypes who can truly benefit from limiting this food category. They score lower on our carbohydrate clearance scale and therefore are prone to elevated blood sugar when eating simple carbs like flour. Assuming digestion isn’t an issue, Foragers do have a work around option for whole grains – they can cook and let cool overnight, which forms resistant starch and makes grains and other sources of carbohydrate less apt to spike blood sugar.
The key for Foragers is to keep a close eye on the foods that spike blood sugar and limit them to special occasions, like a birthday or wedding.
What is the scientific basis for this diet? The macronutrient composition of our Forager diet, which is comprised of 32.5% healthy fats, 45% complex carbohydrates, and 22.5% protein, the bulk from plant and seafood sources, is consistent with the most current United States Dietary Guidelines.
Our Chief Nutrition Officer, Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, was the lead dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio for 15 years before joining Gene Food. Kristin used nutrigenomic interventions with patients at the Cleveland Clinic, and continues to use genomics with her patients today. For more on the science of nutrigenomics, see our science page.
Most closely related diet: California Coastal
Primary difference with California Coastal: California Coastal genotypes are unlikely to be lactose intolerant, whereas dairy is strictly off limits for our Forager group. This doesn’t mean California Coastal genotypes will thrive on dairy, it just means they do not carry the markers for lactose intolerance as Foragers do.
Biggest challenge: The biggest challenge faced by Foragers is not to fall into a Paleo trap. This isn’t a Paleo diet. Foragers may be largely grain free, but they can also embrace legumes and want to be careful not to load up on saturated fats. Despite what you might have heard, diets high in saturated fats can increase the risk for heart disease for some people.
Red meat friendly? Yes, a 4-5 oz. piece of grass fed beef can be on the menu every few weeks with no issue, perhaps once a week, but no more. They key for Foragers is to do regular blood testing to see how a diet that adds in more fat affects their LDL and cholesterol levels.
Keto friendly: No, not as most people understand a Keto diet. MCT oil over eggs and bacon is not in the safe “Volvo zone” Foragers prefer to live in. Instead, these types of foods put Foragers on an old motorcycle speeding down an icy mountain path with no guard rails. A plant based Ketogenic diet rich in nuts, seeds, olive oil and oily fish could work, just check in with a doctor for regular blood testing.
Carnivore diet friendly? Nope.
Does this diet type handle fermented foods? Fermented are a wonderful thing unless you have issues with histamine. And since Foragers have excellent histamine scores, some amount of fermented food can be on the menu.
What about pancakes and refined grains: Flour and Foragers don’t mix.
Go to breakfast: Grain free tortilla breakfast tacos with pasture eggs and salsa.