Monthly Archives: June 2011
After almost two million years spent as nomadic hunter-gatherers, our ancestors learned about ten thousand years ago that they could grow certain types of plants under cultivation to feed themselves, and agriculture was born. Most schoolchildren know that agriculture allowed humans to congregate in cities, paving the way for the vast civilizations that span the globe today.
What very few lay people know is that the advent of agriculture saw an almost instantaneous decline in human health, as measured by the average height, bone density, and dental health of skeletons from that era. What changed?
The answer is diet. Early farmers replaced the hunter gatherer diet of meat, wild-growing vegetables, fruit and nuts with the agricultural diet of grains, legumes, and later, dairy. Unfortunately, while human culture can change on a dime, historically speaking, human physiology and genetics cannot. The beans, wheat, and dairy produced by farmers all contain chemical components that are difficult for the human digestive tract to process, causing irritation, chronic inflammation, and even allergic reactions in many individuals, which today is familiar to us as IBS, lactose intolerance, and wheat intolerance. In addition, grains are not nutrient dense foods– ever wondered why most bread and flour is “enriched”?– so the intake of several important vitamins and minerals was drastically reduced when people switched from hunting and gathering to sowing and reaping.
Today, there is a movement to improve individual health by returning to a diet that more closely resembles what our paleolithic ancestors ate. Called the Paleo or Primal Diet by various practitioners, it involves cutting out all grain, sugar, dairy, and legumes in a bid to heal the digestive tract and provide a rich variety of nutrients from meat, seafood, vegetables, nuts, and fruits to help the body rebuild itself.
I have been on this diet for about two months now, and I am convinced that, for me, this is the way forward to lifelong health after more than a decade of illness and misery. After starting this diet and stopping the birth control pill, I have completely eliminated all digestive discomfort and now consider myself symptom-free and “normal” after more than ten years of IBS.
If you would like to join me on this journey, here are a few resources to help you get started:
- Wheat Intolerance: Why the Food We Eat Is Ruining Our Health (A quick and easy read that gives an overview of the Paleo Diet and the health problems associated with common food intolerance issues.)
- The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat by Dr. Loren Cordain (This is the book I read when I started the diet.)
- Mark’s Daily Apple (The blog of Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy)
I hope that everyone who tries this diet has the same level of success with it that I have had. I can honestly say that right now, I can’t imagine ever eating any other way again.