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Dining in the Pleistocene

There’s a controversial but well documented way to increase power and sport performance by copying the diet of your ancestors. This diet, when added to training the CNS, connects with your genome. It works and shows results within weeks. It is often called the Paleo Diet, but since it has become popularized in the media, the Paleo Diet has become a grab bag of foods, theories, dreams, and axes to grind. This is why you need to read and research before latching on to anything that waves the Paleo Diet banner. In other words, find your own dining habits from the Pleistocene, often known as the Ice Ages.

Mankind was so much healthier before the invention of farming a mere 12,000 years ago. As we got away from our hunter-gatherer ways, we saw our physical, dental, and probably our mental health decline. All of this is due to a simple mathematical equation. Humans evolved for six million years eating wild meats, diverse vegetation, lots of roots, and just about anything that moved. We also developed by eating many times each day, and regularly going a day or so without eating. We developed our huge brain and cunning survival skills with this diet.

Then way, way late in our evolutionary history, we figured out how to cultivate grains to feed our growing population. We stopped wandering in search of meat and wild vegetation and became farmers as we ate mostly grains. It is conservatively estimated that 99.6% of our time on this planet we developed our genome eating wild meat and vegetation, followed by .04% of our history eating bread. This makes it easy to see how things have gone wrong. By copying this evolutionary diet, athletes have the opportunity to rekindle the wild beast within.

Mankind’s evolutionary diet wasn’t designed by doctors or dietitians who coincidentally have a nice new book to sell. It was what human beings did, much later discovered by anthropologists studying coprolites, our droppings, focalized human turds. These remains clearly show what earliest man ate, the mixtures of fats, the fiber content, and the ratios of vegetation to animal protein. With over 100,000 generations to study, these coprolites have been compared to Early Modern Humans of 10,000 BC and to mankind today.

When this focalized evidence is added to the bones, stones, and other archeological clues, we find that mankind in the Pleistocene ate a very wide variety meat, fish, vegetables, roots, herbs, and fruit. Man survived through horribly difficult times, especially late in the Ice Ages. Searching for a more stable source of wandering herds, our ancestors migrated north where we fought with other predatory animals for the rights to eat and live. In this environment our forbearers fought wild animals and died in the snow. When we failed to kill enough meat, the tribe starved and froze to death. This is why life expectancy was so low. Death at childbirth and in the first years of life mathematically pulled the average lifespan age down, but there is evidence of a high percentage of prehistoric humans living to their 60’s.

But we were not only hunters, we were gatherers. Very early on mankind relied on calorie dense vegetation to supplement our meat diet. The power of the Paleo Diet fueled mankind through unimaginably bad conditions. The regular cycle of plenty of food followed by scarcity etched its way into our makeup. This fasting for a day or so trained the human body to use this time to kill off parasites and to flush the system. A day without eating can do the same for modern man as it did for prehistoric man. By adapting to a day without food, the human genome protected itself from this common problem by not cannibalizing brain cells, but basically slowing down the metabolic process until such time as food was found once again. Here is the root of the famed “yo-yo” diet problem, where dieters lose lots of weight only to gain it back in a week. The human body was programmed to do this for self-preservation, despite the frustration of modern dieters trying to lose a few pounds.

There isn’t any evolutionary basis to the “no carb” myth. Our ancestors have a long connection with a rich carbohydrate called legumes. Paleo man ate staple roots such as West African Yam for carbohydrates. These wild yams thrived in the area referred to as the African Yam Zone. The long yam root has a tradition of medicinal uses; we can only guess that they were medicinally used in the Pleistocene. There are many species of yams that were used, cooked in earthen pits. These carbohydrates helped sustain early man along with carbohydrates from fruits, honey, wild grasses (edible wild barley) and nuts.

Mankind salted food moderately as salt was a precious commodity. We relished sweets (honey, dates, and fruits). We ate nuts and seeds, especially flax seeds and their high Omega 3 fatty acids. We varied our vegetation intake as we wandered the plains following herds. We ate fats as these kept us warm and healthy — but fats of old were far different than those of today. (To best copy the diet of our ancestors, we should eat the leanest wild meats possible.) Mankind in the Pleistocene regularly ate fish, even if it meant spearing freshwater fish in times of scarcity. The ceremony we have today with barbequing is a connection with the way we’ve cooked our meat for at least 700,000 years.

Sadly, modern man has suffered from one idiotic food fad after another, usually with a major corporation behind the misinformation. Where did we get the idea for “Three Square Meals”? Mankind evolved eating about six meals a day, usually one big one and a bunch of snacks throughout the day. Our biological clock is set to getting hungry and satisfying it. It is no accident that this is where all the dense protein fits in. This is called the APSTAT time, or appetite satiation. Protein fills us up and shuts down hunger pangs better than carbohydrates.

The thermic effect of animal protein is another benefit of the Paleo Diet. When you eat meat it charges up your metabolism and warms you, even makes you sweat. This rise in the metabolism is then fueled by burning up any carbohydrates, then fats found in the digestive tract, then burning body fat. With lots of regular exercise like our foraging ancestors, there was no such thing as being overweight.

All of this was done without grains, which didn’t become part of our diet until very recently in our history. How did we exist without Cheerios or Special K? Aren’t these supposed to bring us health? What they bring is a fortune to Conagra and other corporate giants. Grains and especially processed grains do not provide protein and are a poor source of fiber, despite the advertising hype. Cereal grains are very low in Vitamin B, and the added vitamins are hopelessly degraded by processing. Worst of all, the mass fertilizing of crops has added harmful toxins to the diet. Then we eat the preservatives and texturizing chemicals and wonder why human health is so bad.

Today our meat supply is sicker than we are. Cows are force-fed a chemical laden grain diet. We eat the meat and don’t think about the toxins. Chickens and turkeys eat chemical laden grain, they are loaded with hormones and antibiotics and even arsenic to fatten them. Then we feast on them. We eat laboratory created trans fats, dairy food that our ancestors never had, and take drugs for every condition imaginable, and even for conditions we imagine. Is it any wonder we are so unhealthy?

It’s time to just say no. Go back in time to Pleistocene dining habits to find your health and vitality. Eat what your ancestors ate. Eat grass fed lean beef, free range chicken and eggs. Become a vegetable and fruit lover, as organic as you can get. Learn to enjoy yams and sweet potato. Find the will within you to eliminate processed junk food. Get rid of the chemlab toxins. Drink lots of purified water.

When you are hungry, eat little healthful snacks until you fill up. There’s no reason to go hungry other than once a week or so. This is how your tough ancestors survived and thrived.