What A Hunter-Gatherer Diet Does To The Body In Just Three Days

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What A Hunter-Gatherer Diet Does To The Body In Just Three Days
What A Hunter-Gatherer Diet Does To The Body In Just Three Days. Graphic © herbshealthhappiness.com. Photo © Shutterstock (under license)

Could eating like our caveman ancestors make us healthier? [1] Many experts say that modern humans should consider eating the hunter-gatherer diet which is also known as the paleo diet, caveman diet, or stone-age diet. This type of diet includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, roots, and meat or foods that humans began eating after the Neolithic Revolution, an era that saw the transition of humans from hunter-gatherer lifestyles to settled agriculture. [2]

Surprisingly, the hunter-gatherer way of life actually survives – due to the existence of native tribes in far-flung areas that remain untouched by civilization. CNN’s Tim Spector, who is also a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, published an investigatory report on his experience eating like a hunter gatherer during his three-day stay with the Hadza tribe of Tanzania. [3]

Spector’s research required him to measure his gut microbes before heading to Tanzania, during his stay with the Hadza, and after his return to Great Britain. This research plan was devised by his colleague Jeff Leach who has been living and working among the Hadza, a hunter-gatherer group in Africa.

Spector hunted and foraged with the Hadza people who have been seeking out the same plants and animals that their ancestors have gathered and hunted for millions of years. His first breakfast was a large pile of baobab pods, which are a staple of the tribe’s diet. The camp where Spector stayed was surrounded by baobab trees. The fat-rich seeds have high levels of vitamin C and significant amounts of fiber. [4]

Wild berry trees also surround the camp. The fruits were Spector’s snacks – which have 20 times more polyphenols than cultivated berries. He also had lunch of a few high-fiber tubers. Hadzas do not eat dinner, according to Spector who experienced joining a hunting party to track down porcupine – a rare delicacy.

The porcupine’s fatty carcass tasted much like suckling pig, said Spector. The next two days exposed him to other bizarre dishes such as hyrax, which is a hoofed animal that is a relative of the elephant. For dessert, the Hadzas served golden orange honey which also included a honeycomb full of fat and protein from the larvae. [5]

Spector was accompanied by BBC’s Dan Saladino who documented his trip to Tanzania. According to Saladino, the Hadza’s diet holds lessons for everyone. Saladino underscores the similarity between the Hazda diet and the diets on which humans originally evolved and through which the humans’ digestive system developed, including the all-important microbiome which is the community of bacteria in our gut. [6]

Upon Spector’s return to London, he had his fecal samples tested. The results amazed the professor, with his gut microbial diversity having increased 20 percent. The test also traced some novel African microbes, such as those of the phylum Synergistetes. This rare form of bacteria is often associated with good health. [7] However, after few days, Spector’s gut microbes returned to their initial state from before the trip.

The medical world is starting to recognize the major role played by our gut microbiomes in the operation of our immune system. [8] There is a growing consensus there is a link between richer and more diverse microbiomes and lower risk of disease. The food the Hadzas eat enables them to have the most diverse human gut microbiomes on the planet.

The hunter-gatherer diet has the potential to address a large variety of health issues. Most physiological and psychological health conditions are rooted to our diet and toxins from the environment. The degradation of our health is caused by the malfunctioning of our organs and other systems. Eating food that is loaded with pesticides, additives, and preservatives has a negative impact on our biochemistry and could lead to a huge loss of beneficial bacteria. [9]

Here’s a rundown of what you should be eating in their whole and natural state as much as possible:

• Unprocessed and organic meats of all kinds such as chicken, turkey, beef, duck, lamb, venison, etc
• Unfarmed fish
• Free-range or cage-free eggs
• Non-starch vegetables
Nuts and seeds of all kinds
• Small amounts of honey
Fruits of all kinds

This diet bars you from eating any processed foods. Listed below are other foods to avoid:

• Wheat
• Dairy
• Refined sugar
• Potatoes
• Salt
• Refined vegetables such as canola

Spector and Saladino’s experiences with the Hazda tribe had taught them the need to get back to their roots in nature and to honor the sanctity of their bodies. This posits the importance of returning to the hunter-gatherer diet to enable our body to function optimally, physically, and mentally.


How Modern Life Is Destroying Your Gut Microbes – And 10 Things You Can Do About It


[1] Terri Coles. The Huffington Post Canada. The Paleo Diet: 13 Facts About Eating Like A Hunter-Gatherer. https://huffingtonpost.ca/2013/12/09/the-paleo-diet_n_4414259.html

[2] Matt McMillen. The Paleo Diet. https://webmd.com/diet/a-z/paleo-diet

[3] Tim Spector. CNN Health. July 5, 2017. What a hunter-gatherer diet does to the body in just three days. https://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/05/health/hunter-gatherer-diet-tanzania-the-conversation/index.html

[4] Osman SA. 2004. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. Chemical and nutrient analysis of baobab (Adansonia digitata) fruit and seed protein solubility. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15675149

[5] Kadri SM et al. March 2017. Food Chemistry. Nutritional and mineral contents of honey extracted by centrifugation and pressed processes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27719904

[6] Ursell LK et al. August 2012. Nutrition Reviews. Defining the human microbiome. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22861806

[7] Vartoukian SR et al. April 3, 2009. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Diversity and Morphology of Members of the Phylum “Synergistetes” in Periodontal Health and Disease. https://aem.asm.org/content/75/11/3777.full

[8] Kau AL et al. June 15, 2011. Nature. Human nutrition, the gut microbiome, and immune system: envisioning the future. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3298082/

[9] Luke Heighton. May 10, 2015. The Telegraph. Junk food kills bacteria that protect against obesity, heart disease and cancer, study finds. https://telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/11595559/Junk-food-kills-bacteria-that-protect-against-obesity-heart-disease-and-cancer-study-finds.html

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