When it comes to the topic of whether humans are inherently meat-eaters or not the camps are definitely divided. Perhaps the best way to answer this question is to start with the physiology of the human being versus those of pure carnivores like lions, herbivores like cows, omnivores like bears and frugivores like gorillas.
Humans : All our teeth are mostly the same height, our canines are projected only a small amount and our molars are broad topped.
Carnivores: Their teeth are nothing like those found in humans. They have large canines for hooking into and seizing prey, pointed incisors for stripping meat from bones and molars and premolars that have cusps for shredding muscle fibre. The teeth of the upper jaw slide past the potside of the lower jaw so that prey is caught in a vice-like grip. Carnivores don’t chew their food; they tear off hunks of meat and swallow it whole.
Herbivores: Have sharp, chisel-shaped incisors for cutting (no upper incisors in some cases), and small incisor-like canines. Their diastema molars and premolars are flattened with ridges. Their teeth and upper jaw meet the lower jaw so that lateral movement of the lower jaw produces the grinding actions to break down plant material. In herbivores the incisors are dominant , the canines usually recessed and the molars broad-topped.
Omnivores: Have sharp canines of the carnivores AND the pronounced incisor of the herbivore. They also have molars that are BOTH pointed and broad-topped. Frugivores: All the teeth are nearly of the same height. The canines are a little projected and the molrs are broad-topped. The jaw of a frugivore is laterally mobile to allow chewing (unlike that of a carnivore which is vertically mobile).
Humans: The stomach is slightly elongated approximating the shape of a kidney bean.
Carnivores: The stomach is a round, sack shaped simple structure with a high concentration of acid salts for digesting muscle and bone. Food usually reamins in their stomach for days at a time while it is digested. A large part of this digestion occurs through a process called autolytic digestion where the enzymes in RAW meat digests itself. In addition carnivores are adapted to process huge amounts of meat at a time (up to 25% of their body weight) and then do not eat anything for days.
Herbivores: For the digestion of plant matter, ruminant stomachs have more than one chamber. When a ruminant chews up and swallows grass, leaves, and other material, it goes into the first chamber of its stomach, where it sits and softens. There, specialized bacteria break down the food. When the material is soft enough, the animal regurgitates the food and chews it again. This helps break down the plant matter. This partially digested food is called cud. The animal then swallows the cud, and it goes into a second chamber of the stomach. Chemicals in the second chamber digest the plant material further, and it goes into the third chamber. Finally, the digested food goes to the fourth chamber, which is similar to a human stomach. Sheep, buck, giraffes, camels, and cattle are all ruminants.
Frugivore: It is typically long and extended – a complex structure- containing 1/10 of the acid salts and pepsin present in the carnivore’s stomach.
Most children were sure to have been forced to drink a glass of milk every day in the mistaken assumption that they needed it for ‘stong teeth and bones’. In fact the current dietary guidelines still recommend 2-3 servings of dairy products daily.
Dairy is a large component of the South African diet. The Food consumption changes in South Africa since 1994 published in December 2014 shows how dairy product consumption has increased by 14.7% between 1999 – 2012 with the biggest growth in the yoghurt and soured milk segment which increased by a whopping 73.7%. In terms of consumption of drinking milk products, cow’s milk consumption increased by 7.3% with a larger increase of 16.7% in value-added flavoured milk products over the same period. Consumers are moving away from powdered milk and towards ultrahigh temperature (or UHT) milk because it is more affordable. Even if the cow’s milk you get is free of growth hormones, antibiotics, bacteria, viruses, chemicals, allergenic proteins, blood and pus typically found in milk, it is still not good for you!
Cow’s milk is designed for calves, not humans. It has 20 times the cassein of human milk and is designed to take a calf from 45kg to 500kg in about 24 months. So now consider the SA trend of buying lovely UHT processed milk:
• Homogenised milk is not natural and presents serious health risks. The theory behind homogenisation sounds simple: break up the fat particles in milk until they are so small that they remained suspended in the milk and won’t rise to the top and form the layer of cream that used to be the trademark of all bottles of milk. These fat particles become so small that they pose a problem in the same way that trans-fats do. They cause damage your arteries.
• The R-BsT growth hormones that are injected into dairy cows to increase milk production was developed by Monsanto (if you don’t know who that is then please feel free to climb back under your rock). In their submission to the FDA they claimed that it was identical to the growth hormones found naturally in cows but in July 1994 a Monsanto scientist revealed that one of the amino acids in this growth hormone is epsilon-N-acetyllysine; a FREAK substance.
• The body digests milk differently once gastric juices begin to flow (around 18 – 20 months of age). Before gastric juices flow milk is alkaline and non-mucous forming in the body. Once gastric juices enter the picture they turn the milk acid, forming mucous which causes sinus problems, allergies, candida overgrowth etc.
• The high levels of cassein found in cow’s milk are one of the reasons that humans do not digest milk proteins well leading to numerous allergic reactions. One particular protein, beta-caseine, found in cow’s milk can literally trick the immune system into attacking and destroying the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas which eventually develops into diabetes!
Yes, you really can eat your way to happiness, but perhaps not in the way you might first imagine. By "happiness," I mean lasting happiness, not the fleeting kind of sensory happiness that might be experienced from eating the chocolate coating off a Magnum ice cream. And that's the distinction that really matters here: When I talk about happiness, I'm talking about sustainable happiness, not a brief moment of spurious excitement that soon reverses itself and leads to depression.
Many people try to eat their way to happiness by eating the "immediate gratification" foods like ice cream, pastries, cookies and pizza. Carbohydrates, sugar and gluten (in wheat) may uplift us momentarily because they temporarily spike blood sugar and actively alter brain chemistry. But like any drug, the downer after the effects wear off is far worse than the brief high it appeared to give us. And in the worst cases, we sometimes fall into a pattern of treating that mental rut with yet another hit of sugar or gluten to try to keep the happiness going.
This downward cycle of dependence leads us to long-term obesity, leaky gut, hormonal imbalances, auto-immune diseases, diabetes and depression (to name but a few). As author William Davis says in Wheat Belly: “Today’s wheat has been genetically altered to provide processed-food manufacturers the greatest yield at the lowest cost; consequently, this once benign grain has been transformed into a nutritionally bankrupt yet ubiquitous ingredient that causes blood sugar to spike more rapidly than eating pure table sugar and has addictive properties that cause us to ride a roller coaster of hunger, overeating, and fatigue”
Foods for long-term happiness
Fortunately there is a plethora of other foods that promote long-term happiness. That's what this article is about: Sharing with you the good news on foods that can support healthy moods and promote a positive outlook on life for the rest of your life.
And I have to say that list starts with omega-3 Fatty Acids. High-quality omega-3’s provide one of the most powerful and sustainable boosts to healthy moods of any commonly-available food. You can get omega-3 oils from fish, avocado, grass-fed beef, quality marine oil supplements, chia seeds, flax seeds, coconut oil and other quality nutritional supplements. Beware of grocery store foods that claim to be "made with omega-3’s" because the actual quantity of omega-3 oils in those foods is usually so tiny that it hardly matters to your daily nutritional intake.
We rely on a harmonious balance of ‘friendly’ bacteria (probiotics) in our gut to maintain optimal health. A change in the body’s natural balance can be caused by a number of different factors such as taking any pharmaceutical drug, emotional stress, smoking, drinking, an unhealthy diet, conditions that cause abnormal motility of the bowel including diarrhoea caused by viruses or bacteria and operations on the bowel. Antibiotics (and other specific medications and preservatives in food) cannot discern between ‘good’ bacteria and ‘bad’ bacteria as they are specifically designed to kill foreign organisms. This means that all the ‘friendly’ bacteria are eradicated whilst you are taking antibiotics. Furthermore these friendly bacteria also assist in the production of many important vitamins as well as serotonin. Most of the body’s serotonin (a mood-enhancing neuro-transmitter) is released in the gut and researchers estimate that about 90% of all serotonin receptors are found in the gut.
It stands to reason that if your digestive system is happy then you will be happy too! Enjoy healthy nuts Pecans and walnuts are extremely beneficial to supporting not just healthy moods but healthy brain function as well. It's the oils in the nuts that do the trick. Other nuts can also be strongly supportive of healthy moods in the long term: Almonds, pistachios, macadamia nuts and macadamia nuts all have powerful health-supporting properties that positively affect brain function and therefore mood. Eat more raw nuts and you'll create better brain balance for the long term!
Most of the carbohydrates in the diet are starches. Starches are long chains of glucose that are found in grains, potatoes and various foods. BUT not all of the starch we eat gets digested. Sometimes a small part of it passes through the digestive tract unchanged. In other words, it is resistant to digestion.
This type of starch is called resistant starch, which functions kind of like soluble fiber. Many studies in humans show that resistant starch can have powerful health benefits.
This includes improved insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels, reduced appetite and various benefits for digestion.
Resistant starch is actually a very popular topic these days. In the past few months, hundreds of people have experimented with it and seen major improvements by adding it to their diet.
There Are 4 Different Types of Resistant Starch
Not all resistant starches are the same. There are 4 different types.
Type 1 is found in grains, seeds and legumes and resists digestion because it is bound within the fibrous cell walls.
Type 2 is found in some starchy foods, including raw potatoes and green (unripe) bananas.
Type 3 is formed when certain starchy foods, including potatoes and rice, are cooked and then cooled. The cooling turns some of the digestible starches into resistant starches via a process called retrogradation.
Type 4 is man-made and formed via a chemical process.
The classification is not that simple, though, as several different types of resistant starch can co-exist in the same food.
Depending on how foods are prepared, the amount of resistant starch changes. For example, allowing a banana to ripen (turn yellow) will degrade the resistant starches and turn them into regular starches.
How Does it Work? What is The Mechanism?
The main reason why resistant starch works, is that it functions like soluble, fermentable fiber.
It goes through the stomach and small intestine undigested, eventually reaching the colon where it feeds the friendly bacteria in the gut.
The bacteria in the intestine (the gut flora) outnumber the body’s cells 10 to 1. In that respect, we are only 10% human. Whereas most foods we eat feed only 10% of our cells, fermentable fibers and resistant starches feed the other 90%.
There are actually hundreds of different species of bacteria in the intestine. In the past few decades, scientists have discovered that the number and type of bacteria can have a profound impact on health.
Resistant starch feeds the friendly bacteria in the intestine, having a positive effect on the type of bacteria as well as the number of them. When the bacteria digest resistant starches, they form several compounds, including gases and short-chain fatty acids, most notably a fatty acid called butyrate.
Bottom Line: One of the main reasons why resistant starch improves health, is that it feeds the friendly bacteria in the intestine and increases production of short-chain fatty acids like butyrate.
Resistant Starch is a Superfood For The Digestive System
So… when we eat resistant starch, it ends up in the large intestine, where the bacteria digest it and turn it into short-chain fatty acids. The most important of these short-chain fatty acids is butyrate. Butyrate is actually the preferred fuel of the cells that line the colon.
Therefore, resistant starch both feeds the friendly bacteria and indirectly feeds the cells in the colon by increasing the amount of butyrate.
Resistant starch has several beneficial effects on the colon
It reduces the pH level, potently reduces inflammation and leads to several beneficial changes that should lower the risk of colorectal cancer, which is the 4th most common cause of cancer death worldwide.
The short-chain fatty acids that aren’t used by the cells in the colon travel to the bloodstream, liver and to the rest of the body, where they may lead to various beneficial effects.
Because of its therapeutic effects on the colon, resistant starch may be useful for various digestive disorders. This includes inflammatory bowel diseases like Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease, constipation, diverticulitis and diarrhoea. However, this needs to be studied properly in human controlled trials before any recommendations can be made.
In animal studies, resistant starch has also been shown to increase the absorption of minerals.
Resistant Starch Enhances Insulin Sensitivity, Lowers Blood Sugar Levels and Improves Metabolic Health
A few weeks ago I met a friend at a coffee shop at midday. When I declined to eat anything she asked if I'd had a big breakfast to which my answer was no, I was fasting. She looked at me in horror as if I'd just announced that I'd had a gender re-assignment. I had to explain that it wasn't a severe fast that prisoners embark on to demand more DSTV channels, rather a controlled restriction of calories for a couple of days. I do this not to lose weight but rather to reap the health and psychological benefits. Prolonged fasting forces the body to use stores of glucose, fat, and ketones, but we now understand that it also breaks down a significant portion of older white blood cells and helps to re-boot our systems and helps strengthen our immune systems.
Part of the psychological process is just to get back in touch with the body. As humans we've been conditioned so hard for so long that we've become robot-like when it comes to eating. Breakfast at seven o'clock, lunch at one o'clock, supper at six o'clock; never stopping to question the validity of our actions. Consider this for a moment, do we eat because we are hungry or are we 'hungry' because we eat? This is not a trick question or a Japanese Koan, it's merely an evocative question to make you think. You may battle with insulin resistance in which case the hormone leptin which usually signals our body's when we are full, is not working correctly thus this exercise may take a while to be effective. However understanding these subtleties go a long way in helping to attain optimal health and your goal weight.
So where did we go wrong? Let us take a journey back to the prehistoric era so that we may better understand how our body's were designed as essentially they are the same as those of our ancestors. Then as now, food eaten in excess of that needed for immediate energy, growth, or tissue repair was stored for use later. Those members of our ancestors’ groups whose bodies were most efficient at storing the excess tended to live the longest and reproduce most successfully.
This means that those who were best able to store the excess are our actual ancestors, not the ones who died early because their bodies ran out of fuel during hard times. The people we came from were especially good at making and storing body fat for future use. Whenever there was a surplus of food, when summer weather provided fruits, when there was an abundance of game, our ancestors’ bodies stored the extra for the lean days of winter.
In modern society, the problem for most of us has been too much food – continually. Our bodies have been tricked into using their storage mode all the time. In the days of the cave man when winter came, abundance subsided and our ancestors needed the body fat that they had stored throughout the summer months. Forward to the modern day, abundance does not subside for us, and we don’t have any mechanisms for shutting down the storage process.