Diana Allen, MS, CNS
Eating to Evolve
Updated: Apr 16, 2019
An evolution-based diet & lifestyle is based on science and common sense.
Is it possible that the food we eat influences not only our health, but the thoughts we think, the emotions we feel and the spiritual progress of our lives? Absolutely!
And what about the health of future generations? Could it be that our personal dietary habits help determine the physical biology and genetic viability of our descendants? Without a doubt!
We are, each of us, a work in progress—growing, changing and evolving from birth to death. This idea of progressive change can be applied to our diet as well. What we eat is an ever-evolving aspect of our lives—both as individuals, and as a species.
Eat to evolve! Once we become conscious of the food we are putting in our mouths every day—whether for health, medical, ethical or spiritual reasons—our diet becomes a work in progress, an important part of our conscious evolution. So from a personal perspective, eating to evolve is first about discovering what type of food will best support your attainment of the highest level of health and physical well being. Eating to evolve also is about learning how to eat, following your intuition as well as your intellect, so that food becomes your ally and mealtime is a joy: No fear, no apprehension, no guilt or shame—just fuel and pleasure, properly placed.
From a larger perspective, eating to evolve is about aligning your habits with the evolution, health and survival of the human race. Basic human physiology has not changed a whole lot for the past 2 million years, at least.* That's a long, long time. It's only common sense to realize that human biological systems are designed to function optimally eating the foods our species evolved eating—the foods we've been eating from the beginning.
Principle One is to eat clean! Regardless of geographic location, all early humans exclusively ate only whole, natural, "organically grown" foods—the only game in town (no pun intended). Fossil records suggest we started off as vegetarians, eating wild native plants (roots, leaves, barks, fruits, nuts), and later added wild animals (grubs, carrion, small game, etc).** Initially, we only ate raw food. At some point, perhaps as far back as 1 million years ago or longer, we learned how to control fire and started cooking some of our wild plant and animal foods, the mainstay of Paleolithic diets.***
The future foods of agriculture—grains, beans and dairy products—were introduced slowly and only on occasion, i.e. gathered in season, until the relatively recent Neolithic revolution (farming) took hold around 10,000 BCE. The human diet changed suddenly and drastically at this time. And, it appears, human health suffered in turn.
Ultimately, I believe, as Albert Einstein purportedly suggested, that humans can and must evolve into eating a vegetarian diet; that is, if we wish to survive into future millennia! (Earth will endure; our species may not.) But from an Eat to Evolve perspective, it is not necessarily advisable for everyone to eat a 100% plant-based diet, especially those of us who have difficulty digesting carbohydrates.
Instead, we consider simply the obvious: those foods which have been eaten longest by humans are the foods best suited to the optimum functioning of our bodies. This automatically includes all naturally growing and wild foods, and automatically excludes all processed food, junk food, artificial additives (colors, flavors, preservatives) and bleached/refined sugars and flours.
So what do we eat to evolve? The evolution-appropriate diet includes an abundance of plant foods, mainly low-starch vegetables and low-sugar fruits, along with starchy vegetables, seeds, nuts and high quality animal foods: Wild caught or naturally raised flesh foods, pastured eggs from free living birds, and organic or raw dairy (preferentially from goats or sheep, as their milk is easier to digest for us than cow milk).
Regarding treats, raw honey is the original sweetener. Syrups which require boiling (i.e. maple) came next. Chocolate (cacao), coffee and tea have also been around for quite some time, but they couldn't possibly have been staples in anyone's diet until farming and agriculture were developed.
As for the other foods of early agriculture—grains (whole and sprouted), legumes (soaked and sprouted), raw dairy products (ideally from goat or sheep), and unrefined, cold-pressed oils—these are the “new foods on the block” for humans, introduced a mere 10,000 years ago, as noted above. I believe that physiologically, humans may be in the process of evolving to thrive on such fare. We're just not there yet, which is why I think grains, beans and dairy foods should be consumed judiciously—if at all—not as a replacement for the original, evolution-appropriate natural foods, but in addition to.
Many of the chronic diseases that plague modern society are a direct result of poor dietary and lifestyle habits. Eating to evolve yourself—and your species—is a way to help bypass this fate. Natural whole foods, plenty of water, daily exercise, healthy stress-management strategies and adequate sleep and rest are keys to radiant health and happiness. May they help open the door to vibrant health for your body, mind and spirit.
An earlier version of this article appeared on my first blog, Eat to Evolve! ©2008 http://eat2evolve.blogspot.com/2008/05/welcome-to-eat-to-evolve.html
* Homo erectus - A Bigger, Smarter, Faster Hominin Lineage https://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/homo-erectus-a-bigger-smarter-97879043
** Human Ancestors Were Nearly All Vegetarians https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/human-ancestors-were-nearly-all-vegetarians/
*** Million-year-old ash hints at origins of cooking https://www.nature.com/news/million-year-old-ash-hints-at-origins-of-cooking-1.10372