The Hunter-Gatherer Diet for our Modern Times
Just what was the hunter-gatherer diet of our Paleolithic ancestors and why is it still the optimum diet for our modern times? By analyzing ancient human remains and studying the diets of modern day hunter-gatherers, evolutionary biologists have gained insights into the ancestral human diet. All ancestral diets shared certain key ingredients. Food sources were limited to wild animals (including the brains, bone marrow, fats and organs), fish and shellfish, foraged wild plants, eggs, insects, nuts, seeds and wild berries. The primitive diet provided the nutrient dense balance for the critical metabolic processes which allowed our ancestors to thrive, reproduce, and pass their genes to subsequent generations. According to many studies there is now much supporting evidence that the diet of our distant ancestors may be a guide to the proper nutrition of today’s humans as well. After all the primitive diet was what our bodies and large brains flourished on and on which our genetic heritage was established. Our ancestors did not suffer from the diseases of western civilization.
Our ancestors did not suffer from the diseases of western civilization.
What we know is that our hunter-gatherer ancestors did not eat grains. They ate wild meat and fish and their accompanying fats, which were very high in omega-3 fatty acids, and a wide variety of foraged plants, seeds and nuts. In fact 35-50% of their dietary intake was made up of the nutrient rich animal fats which retained all the necessary vitamins and minerals. New scientific studies have shown that we need these “good” fats and dietary cholesterol to make our bodies and brains function at optimum levels of health.
drastic changes in the human diet have occurred in less than 200 years
The first major change in the human diet began around 10,000 years ago beginning with the cultivation of grains. Grains have been long been the basis of the American food pyramid. Subsequently the Industrial Revolution led to the wide replacement of traditional foods with refined cereal grains and “commercially raised” meats and dairy products. These drastic changes in the human diet have occurred in less than 200 years, which is an insufficient time for genetic adaptation to take place. As a result people consuming Western diets may no longer be consuming omega-3 essential fatty acids and other nutrients within genetically determined ranges, thus disturbing metabolic processes. These metabolic derangements are playing a major role in the deteriorating health of the American public.
“abundant evidence that many modern disease processes, including cardiovascular disease, elevated triglycerides, obesity, hypertension, diabetes and cancer, to name a few…are the product not of excess fats in the diet, but of excess carbohydrates”.
What does all this mean for us and what can we do?
We can begin to eliminate grains from our diet and increase our consumption of protein, healthy fats, and non-starchy vegetables. Grains, especially refined grains easily convert to sugar (glucose) which is then stored as fat in the body.
The American epidemic of diabetes, obesity, gluten intolerance (Celiac disease), Alzheimer’s, autism, ADD/HD and major depressions, as well as many other illnesses, has been linked to our overconsumption of grains. We can return to a diet that most nearly replicates that of our ancestors by eating specifically grass-fed meat, (high in omega-3’s, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals), wild seafood, “pastured” dairy and poultry products, organic produce, nuts, seeds and berries. We can return to a life that is symptom free and full of vibrant energy.
What we choose to eat has everything to do with our physical and mental health
What we choose to eat has everything to do with our physical and mental health. With so much attention nowadays on children’s obesity and diabetes parents must take a very active role in their children’s nutrition and get involved in what is served at the school cafeteria. Our vote to have unadulterated whole foods, humanely raised meats, and non-toxic fruits and vegetables, begins at the grocery store or the farmer’s market.