Eat like a caveman.

Do you want to be a caveman? (

There are people on this planet who are slimmer, stronger and faster than us. They rarely contract diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, schizophrenia and cancer, says Dr, Ben Balzer, a physician in the US.

These people are the last tribes of hunter-gatherers in the world. Their secret is their so-called natural” diet which has changed little from that of the first humans 2 million years ago, says Balzer, a proponent of the hunter-gatherer or Paleolithic diet, sometimes called the caveman diet. The thing is, would you want to live like them and eat the food they eat?

Well, I wouldn’t. And neither would Dr. Kristen Gremillion, an associate professor of anthropology Ohio State Univeristy in the US. Gremillion, is the author of the book ”Ancestral Appetites: Food in Prehistory” which I have just finished reading.

Gremillion doesn’t think much of the new diet fads that claim they are “natural”. People who favor these diets believe that somehow there was a time when humans lived in complete harmony with pristine natural environments.

The so-called “paleolithic” diet, is based on what people ate before the introduction of agriculture. In this diet there is a focus on lean meats and fruits and vegetables and not eating cooked and processed foods and grains of any kind.

Gremillion explains that humans began cooking food because it makes the food easier to chew and digest and makes it easier for our bodies to extract certain nutrients. After hundreds of thousands of years of cooking, there is no reason to give it up.

Gremillion says that while there is much to learn from what our ancestors ate, many of our more modern foods and diets were developed for very good reasons. Humans are omnivores and can eat many kinds of foods. It makes more sense to look at our nutritional requirements today rather than try to base a diet on what we think people ate in the past, she says.

The idea of a pristine environment with people in balance with it is also a fallacy . In North America, for example, Native Americans were impacting the environment from the moment they walked onto the continent. Their impact was small because their population was small. However, they burned the land to clear huge areas for agriculture and other uses. Gremillion says that in everything related to eating – from what foods we eat, to how we grow it, to how we prepare it – there is no one natural way.

Author: Dr. Nirmal Shah

Nirmal is a well-known and a passionate personality in the Seychelles environmental and sustainability scene having an encyclopedic knowledge of Seychelles biodiversity as well as a wealth of experience in environment management. He has worked in senior positions in the parastatal, government, private and NGO sectors and consulted for international organizations such as the World Bank, IUCN, UNEP, Sida and UNESCO. He has appeared on CNN, BBC, Radio France, PBS, NBC, ABC, SABC and others

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