I’m sure you’ve heard of the Paleo, Keto, Hay and Fit For Life diets? Allen “Easyway” Carr wrote about eating like our ancestors in a book called The Easyweight to Lose Weight and others about food. These are essentially based on what our ancestors ate, alongside the blood group diet and other ideas along similar lines.
I will include a glossary of all the books I have read, which focus on ancestral eating, such as these.
For a while I have been curious about the relationship between our genetics, DNA and foods that benefit us more than others. My quest is to find what I ought to eat, avoid and do for me personally. Objective facts help but all advice or opinion would be subjective to someone else. Therefore, please read this as subjective to me and not advice. If you relate to something, please explore it for yourself before making your mind up.
Today, DNA companies provide wellbeing tests, which tell us about genetic micronutrient deficiencies. They even propose to sell monthly bespoke multi-vitamin tablets set to our genetic needs. I believe we can work out for ourselves what to eat, avoid and supplements to take. That is the point behind my app The Micronutrient Path. People with allergies are usually aware of what to avoid, as do people with diabetes and Celiac Disease. The best way to cut our food intolerances out of our diet, I believe, is through the Elimination Diet or Dr Zoë Harcombe’s The Harcombe Diet.
This is an exploration of the subject, as I would prefer to avoid adding more noisy to an already vocal issue. Therefore, I will consider various points as questions to be food for thought.
This particularly journey for me, started in 2016, when I was searching for information about seasonal tiredness. At that point I had no idea that we don’t get enough sunlight to make Vitamin D in the winter in the United Kingdom. This message is not delivered by the NHS where this information is available. In turn, I had no idea that having insufficient Vitamin D also means the body does not regulate calcium or phosphate. The last piece of this jigsaw is the fact that vitamin Dis fat soluble, which means if it is taken orally, it must be accompanied by dietary fat.
I think facts create choice. However, it seems that so many health facts are kept from us by gatekeepers who want to exploit these facts for profit. Therefore, I’d like to include any facts I’ve found to round out the picture and put them with some of my own ideas.
Firstly, I think human beings are so varied today. Our ancestors have lived through constant change and had to adapt. During the last hundred years, we have had wars, rationing, an explosion in food manufacturing, commercial fertilizer, pesticide, flavouring and additives. Industrial farming has drained food of the abundant nutrients it once contained.
According to my DNA, my mother line originates in the Altai Mountains, the gateway between Asia, the Middle East and Europe, more than 20,000 years ago during the Ice Age.
Therefore, I need to imagine what this means for me physically. My DNA, supposedly, has mutated little between the Ice Age and now. 11,000 years ago, Cheddar Man was on Somerset soil and scientists believe he had dark skin and blue eyes.
There is a school of thought, presenting the evidence of a black mat in the land record covering North America and Europe from before the start of agriculture. The catastrophists propose that this event caused the Young Dryas, a cold period of over 1,000 years after the end of the Ice Age. This could have been the result of a comet or asteroid strike, that would not have been as large as the one that wiped out the dinosaurs. How do we know this might have happened?
Firstly, skin colour. How did people become fair skinned? This would allow people to absorb vitamin D from the sun more easily and store it. Have you wondered why people from Africa or the Caribbean get conditions such as ricketts, living in the UK? During the pandemic, ethnic minorities suffered more from severe covid compared to lighter skinned people. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to hospitalisation from COVID.
If you originate from Africa, do you have an allergy to foods containing vitamin D? Could this be why people from hot countries get nourishment from sweet food such as tropical fruit, which are considered superfoods as they contain fat, protein and carbohydrate? Is this why people from cold northern countries eat and drink fermented products such as sauerkraut and alcohol? Is this why dark skinned people have lower alcohol tolerance from fermented substances, while light skinned people who spend more time indoors react to foods containing starch and sugar?
I think it is well worth letting our imaginations go and considering what our own ancestors ate and drank and why? Alcohol and fermented products would have acted to preserve. They also would have performed the function that our gut provides to digest fibre. Alcohol can make people feel warmer. People vary in terms of enzymes to break down a type of carbohydrate called Dissacharide. The enzymes are lactase, sucrase and maltase. The food and drinks we need to break down into single blocks of carbohydrate include beer, milk, rice, potato, pasta, bread, cereal, grains, beans, root vegetables and sugar.
By contrast, fruit and honey are already bioavailable carbohydrates that can be absorbed into the blood as glucose without requiring enzymes to break them down. The first weight reduction diet was pioneered in 1872 by Dr William Harvey, for his patient William Banting, who sought help for hearing loss. Banting was 66 years old, debilitated by obesity and had to reverse down stairs, walk with sticks and had an umbilical injury. After a year on Harvey’s dietary regime, Banting was restored to health.
As the medical establishment of the day attacked Banting for his pamphlets Letters on Corpulence, written to help his fellow creatures and from which every penny was donated to charity and declared, William Harvey wrote a medical report to provide evidence, inviting peer review. This is the only place I have read about liver health and the physical impacts of starch, lactose and sugar in association with weight loss.
William Harvey’s excellent and flavourful book On Corpulence in Relation To Disease has been republished and is available. I love how voices from 150 years ago are so vivid and speak with so much authenticity, vulnerability and integrity. There are no conflicts of interest Harvey or Banting’s writings and they survived the test of time and stand out against detractors, who still exist amongst official health bodies and corporate agendas today. Think of the witch hunts of the 1600s as the Tudor equivalent of today’s attacks on natural health practitioners, which coincidentally we still call witch hunts.
Therefore, in summary, I’ve worked out for myself:
1. That I am built to be active, moving around everyday, not sitting working at home.
2. That I have a system, which would have extracted nutrients from whatever food I could find to survive.
3. Variety would be built in.
4. No additives, anti-biotics, preservatives or fertiliser, therefore organic.
5. I seem to get sugar from just about anything except fish or meat, meaning I am storing excess glucose and retaining water to store it.
6. I get cold symptoms when I eat cereals, grains, milk or root vegetables, which can be useful to clear out my system after an infection, illness or toxins from excess nutrition.
7. That the quantity of food would be much smaller than a 21st Century diet and the nutrient quality of food would be much higher.
8. That we would listen to our bodies to point us to what foods to eat, as animals in the wild do.
9. We still get cravings today even though they may be badly misdiagnosed.
10. Depending on our genetics, some people like me need much less food than we enjoy.
It seems and has been tested and proven that conventional weight loss diets do not work. The setting is wrong. Between one and three generations ago faced world wars, rationing, official bodies issuing diet advice, scientifically incorrect links between cholesterol and heart disease, an aggressive sugar and ultra-processed food lobby, industrialised farmed products such as soy and palm oil and junk food. We also live much more sedantary lives, compared to even our parents. The human body is not designed for 21st century life in a developed country.
Therefore, looking at where our ancestors originate from, what foods are seasonal where we live, the time of year, the climate, what our grandparents ate and how active people used to be would help us create new lifestyles for ourselves. Today we have gyms, access to sea swimming, foods from around the world and dietary supplements to help us follow our own food journeys, with a little help from real food facts to piece together our own ancestral eating picture.