By Johnie Bowden
ArticleText “Most things in Nature have an inherent intelligence in their design. Look at how something was meant to function and you immediately understand its purpose. A chameleon, for example, has the ability to change colors to blend in with the environment so that it can escape detection from
predators; the Russian Wolfhound has long legs because it was bred to hunt very fast prey; the Bernese Mountain Dog has a furry coat because it keeps
him warm in cold mountain temperatures.
Get the picture?
Lately in the field of nutrition, there’s been a lot of interest in
something called the Paleolithic Diet. Quite simply, the thinking is this:
the human digestive system has a purpose. In this case, the purpose is to
efficiently and effectively process the foods that nourish and sustain us,
and, incidentally, are normally found in our environments. But mankind is
several million years old, while modern agriculture is relatively recent, a
mere 10,000 years old according to most estimates. Our digestive systems,
meanwhile, have not kept pace with the evolution of technology.
In other words, farming and technology evolved a lot faster than our bodies.
See, the composition of our forefathers’ diet has actually been extensively
studied over the past decade by a small number of scientists and is
generally referred to as the “”stone-age”” or “”paleolithic”” diet. This
“”diet”” is what the “”blueprint”” for the human digestive system was
designed to accommodate. Nutritionist Patrick Quillin has a clever term for
this: he calls it the “”factory specified”” diet. The kind of gas your car
manufacturer tells you to use in the car you just bought is the “”factory
specified”” gas because that’s the kind of gas on which the car was designed
to operate best. The “”factory specificed”” diet for squirrels, for
examples, would be nuts, not white bread.
So looking at the composition of the “”caveman”” diet really tells us a lot
about what we humans were designed to eat, and how far we’ve moved away from
that. Three million years ago, our forefathers ate what they could catch
locally and what they could find growing in or around their natural
habitats. There were no grains because there was no agriculture. There was
no milk because there were no domesticated farm animals. Meat from wild
game, fish from the sea, vegetation and little else formed the bulk of the
caveman diet. Our forefathers lived active lives, hunting, fishing, building
shelter and escaping predators. And it wasn’t until about ten thousand years
ago that things changed drastically.
It changed because, with the beginnings of agriculture, crops began to form
an important part of our diet. We ate grains for the first time. We drank
the milk from farm animals (unpasteurized and unhomogenized, incidentally).
Technology evolved, as did transportation, and soon we could grow a
cornucopia of foods previously unknown in the human diet; not only that, but
we were able to transport them to other regions in which they weren’t
normally found. Today it’s possible to get a mango in New York (in winter!),
a potato in Canada and a Big Mac and McMilk Shake in Japan (a country in
which the consumption of dairy products for centuries has been exactly
none). The long-range health implications of this sea change are just now
beginning to be explored.
The upshot of all this, ten thousand years after the invention of farming,
is that our actual food intake bears almost no resemblance to the “”factory
specificed”” diet for the human digestive system. Though our digestive
system has certainly evolved somewhat over the three million or so years
we’ve been around, many question whether it has evolved all that much. The
evolution of agriculture and technology has created the ability to grow and
manufacture food and food products and to deliver them to regions they would
never naturally be found in, and that has far outstripped our genetic
ability to digest them and turn them efficiently into energy.
When people come to nutritional counselors for weight loss- at least the
kind that don’t belong to the cult of the American Dietary Association- they
are almost always put on a “”simplified”” diet. The point is to make the
diet more like that of the Caveman, removing as much as possible the
processed, denatured, artificially created foods, beverages and stimulants
that form the basis of the modern American diet. This is done because
clinical observation shows that it’s one of the fastest ways to see just
what effects foods are actually having. It also provides an effective
baseline from which to rebuild the diet using energy producing, disease
fighting, nutrient dense foods which more closely resemble what our bodies
were meant to “”run best”” on.
We may not still roam the planet in animal skins armed with clubs, foraging
for naturally occurring food and game, but someone forgot to tell our
digestive systems. The more we start to eat as if we still wore loincloths,
the faster we begin the road to seriously good health and abundant energy.
The sooner we bring the food we eat into Balance with what our systems were
designed to process, the sooner we begin the road to vibrant good health and
abundant energy. “