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The Diet of Primitive Man

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The Cave Person Theory

The lifestyle of the cave person, or ancient hunter-gatherer is probably the best example we can use to help us understand our nutritional requirements as human beings. Remember that there has been little change to our bodies (in a genetic or physiological sense) since that time.

With the exception of regional changes, our foodstuffs are very similar also. Nature takes a great deal of time to make changes. Humans on the other hand can make radical changes in lifestyle, behaviour and diet, in the space of a generation or two.

This is much too fast to expect our bodies and digestive system to adjust. So, what did the hunter-gatherer eat? Remember that they had no storage facilities for their food and a limited ability to cook. It’s unfair to assume that these people ate a very simple diet of fresh food, most of which would have been eaten raw on the spot.

Theirs would have been a relatively mono diet. In other words, when they came to an apple tree they probably sat down and ate only apples. Food would have been eaten in season. Fresh unsprayed fruit and vegetables are extremely rich in vitamins, especially Vitamin C. No doubt they liked variety, but they would not have had the opportunity to combine as many foods at one sitting as modern man does.

With a simple selection of enzyme-rich food, their digestive system would have operated superbly. Whenever possible they probably caught reptiles and small game. This would have been eaten fresh with Most of the animal consumed. Meat was an occasional treat rather than the bulk of the diet.

Of course this hypothetically idyllic lifestyle wasn’t all roses. Early man had to contend with starvation, predators and accidents which no doubt took a great toll. However, from the dietary perspective his food intake was potentially as near to perfect as you can get.

Other factors contributed greatly to the cave person’s health. Plenty of exercise, fresh air and relaxation.

The Primitive Diet

Let’s examine this primitive diet of the cave person. Firstly his food was gathered fresh. This meant that it was just at the right stage for eating. Hardly comparable with our early picking and artificial ripening techniques which mean that nutrients don’t develop fully.

Some nutritionists estimate that a fresh organically grown tomato provides around one gram of Vitamin C. The fact is that these days you are lucky to get 50 mg (1/20 th of a gram) from an artificially ripened and stored tomato. You can see the dramatic difference in the nutritional value of this food according to the growing and harvesting technique.

Fresh food eaten at the right time is also packed with natural Enzymes. Enzymes are the important catalysts for the digestion and metabolism of our food. Food without enzymes is devitalised food. Because enzymes, like many vitamins, are unstable, nearly all are lost in stored fruits and vegetables – the only foods containing enzymes.

Already we have a picture of the vast difference in the quality of nutrition between early man and our present day, and we have only just begun. As a result of vastly improved hygiene and some useful drugs we have conquered the ravages of many of the infectious diseases like Smallpox and T.B. Thus we are living longer lives.

Our problem now is that we are falling victims to Nutritionally related degenerative diseases and stress. These include arthritis, heart disease, hypoglycaemia, diabetes and cancer. Such problems are epidemic and are claiming more people than ever before. Dietary discipline is essential if they are to be overcome.

So why not get with a good diet? After all, these problems are nothing more than a gift showing us where we are going wrong.

Getting back to our cave person … as we’ve seen his diet was simple with not too much variety at each meal. This meant that his digestive juices were only dealing with a few foods at any one time. There was much less chance of incompatible food combinations.

Modern society views our enormous variety of available foods as a sign of affluence. The more varieties, the better. This is great for the taste buds but it is a disaster for the digestive system. Remember that digestion is the first stage in providing the body with fuel to sustain itself. If digestion is not functioning efficiently, you are in trouble.

Storage and Cooking

There were no refrigerators in ancient times so there was little food storage. Our cave person had only limited opportunity to cook his food. Pots and pans weren’t around then so most of his food was raw and packed with live enzymes. Cooking destroys these enzymes, most enzymes are destroyed at 107o F. The stove is very much the curse of modern man.

Relaxation

With a few exceptions, our cave person ate his meal in an unhurried and relaxed way. After all, he had little else on his mind. Food was a major priority in his life and he was going to enjoy it. In this relaxed state, his cardio-vascular system would direct the blood supply to his abdomen and digestion was completed efficiently.

There is little comparison here with us today. With the exception of rich, tasty meals, food is truly low priority stuff. Our taste buds are the only consideration. The stressed state that most of us operate in means that there is always some adrenaline pumping through the system. Thus our blood is directed away from the digestive areas and into the muscles in preparation for all of our little emergencies.

This means poor digestion, indigestion, bloating, flatulence and eventual illness. Stress is the greatest killer in society today. The need to address this problem is inseparable from the need for good, fresh, whole food.

Processing and Bowel Health

Because of the lack of processing plants, our primitive person’s food was eaten whole. He got plenty of FIBRE. This meant that his bowel was stimulated and his elimination was regular and efficient. In contrast, modern man’s elimination is dreadful. Our bowel is the last stage of digestion and absorption of nutrients from our food.

Because of the relatively slow passage of chyme through this organ, it is susceptible to accumulation of debris and waste matter. Refined food provides none of the prickly roughage which is so necessary for regular bowel action.

The result is a clogged bowel and the reabsorption of toxins and waste material. No wonder bowel cancer is one of the greatest killers in Western society.

Refining and Storage

This brings us to yet another major problem … processed food and its lack of nutritional value. The refining and storage process robs most of the fibre and nutrients from our food. Most of the ‘B’ vitamins and the precious ‘E’ vitamins are lost in the processing of wheat and flour.

White flour is not only valueless, it is literally poisonous to the body. Similarly all other processed cereals, fruits and vegetables have lost most of their nutrients and almost all of the very unstable VITAMIN C – which is so important that our bodies require it in abundance.

It is required in even greater quantities if we live under stress – and who doesn’t? The amount of Vitamin C available to us in the average Western diet is often not enough to prevent scurvy, let alone run our bodies efficiently.

The Diet of Modern Man

In comparison to the primitive man, modern man eats almost exclusively of processed, stored and artificially ripened food, grown on artificially fertilised soil and sprayed with poison up to 20 times during the growing season.

He eats anything, at any time, because we have learned how to make most foods readily available through processing and storage. He eats almost no whole food. It is nearly always the tasty parts of the food only. He insists on a large variety for taste, because he believes that this is of greater importance than quality.

More often than not, he eats in a hurried and unrelaxed way and during the few times he sets aside for relaxing and social meals, he drowns them in alcohol, tea and coffee.

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