3. The Physiological Determinants of the Optimum Diet
A wealth of information exists about the physiology of food digestion and absorption. Unfortunately, the science of nutrition has often depended upon "rat experiments" and artificially induced deficiencies, rather than upon the true needs of humans, to determine dietary requirements.
A more reasonable approach to determining the true dietary nature of humans is to study human anatomy and physiology. By studying human physiological nature, certain characteristics of the proper diet can be deduced that are in accordance with the inherent nature and anatomical makeup of humankind. This approach does not depend upon contrived experiments, nor is it already biased by what the majority of people believe a traditional diet should be. Instead, human physical capabilities and predispositions are the chief factors in determining true dietary needs.
3.1 Food Appropriation
The diet of most animals is largely determined by their food-gathering equipment. The long neck of the giraffe enables him to feed upon the foliage of trees. The teeth and claws of the lion are its means of killing and rending animals for its meals. The eagle's eyesight and power of flight make this creature a formidable predator of ground rodents.
So, it is salient to ask, how are you physiologically equipped to obtain your food? You have no sharp claws for tearing, no pointed teeth for slashing, nor are your eyes or sense of smell very well developed for hunting. You cannot run fast enough to chase down your prey nor can you naturally swoop through the sky or dive deep into the ocean.
You do have a marvelous set of fingers with an oposable thumb and limbs for reaching and climbing. Actually your food-gathering capabilities are very similar to the chimpanzee's!
Only man can plant and harvest. He can peel oranges and bananas and pick berries and grapes. He can climb the trees for fruits or gather the vegetables from the ground. Of all the creatures on the earth, man is most ideal for being a gardener and caretaker of the plants and trees.
Man's hands set him apart from the other animals in his food-gathering capabilities. Man appropriates his food by picking fruits from trees or by planting vegetables. It is the hands of man that are used to obtain his food, and the most natural things for such a being to eat are those foods that can be gathered and harvested—the fruits, vegetables and nuts of the earth.
3.2 The Mastication of Food
Man's teeth are not curved or sharpened like those of the wolf or tiger, nor are they wide and flat like those of the grass-and-grain-eating animals. Instead, they are shaped most similar to the fruit-eating monkey's.
The saliva in man's mouth has a different acidity entirely than that of the meat-eating animals; it is much less acidic. Nor is man's saliva as efficacious in digesting starches as is the saliva of grain-and-tuber-eating animals.
Man's mouth is actually best suited for eating succulent vegetables and fruits.
3.3 The Stomach
If a dog swallows a bone and it proceeds to its stomach, it will be completely dissolved by the dog's strong gastric juices. Carnivores may safely gulp hunks of meat whole because of the high acidity of the juices in their stomachs.
Humans have choked to death on similar chunks of meat. It is interesting to note that almost all of the fatal chokings on food have involved pieces of meat (vegetarians, beware: peanut butter is a close second on fatal food chokings).
Unlike the grass-and-grain-eaters (such as cattle), man's stomach cannot process large amounts of cellulose. He cannot regurgitate and re-chew his food as does the cow, for example.
Nor can man's stomach digest a mixture of all different types of food. Each food requires its own special set of digestive conditions in the stomach. Notice too that little or no starch digestion occurs in the stomach, and that fat digestion is a lengthy process that is only successful for small amounts of unheated fats.
Obviously, anything in the world can be put into the stomach, and probably has. However, the physiology of the stomach is such that only foods in compatible combinations can be effectively digested.
3.4 The Intestines
The length of man's intestines is much longer than that. of the carnivore's. This is because meat tends to putrefy rather quickly in the intestines and must be expelled quickly. Man's lengthy intestinal tract cannot handle low-fiber foods such as meat quickly. Consequently, such foods decrease the motility of the intestines and fermentation results, along with eventual constipation.
Cancer of the lower intestines occurs only among populations of meat-eaters. It is virtually unheard of when a diet high in natural fiber (raw fruits and vegetables) is adopted.
Constipation also disappears on a high-fiber diet. Fruit-and-vegetable-eating animals maintain excellent tonality of the intestines and usually experience a natural bowel movement after each feeding.
3.5 The Optimum Diet
Let's review the physiology of digestion so that we may determine the optimum human diet. First, it is obvious that man is built to be a gardener and harvester of fruits, vegetables and nuts. He does not possess the physical apparatus that the carnivorous animals have. Second, the teeth, saliva and digestive enzymes of man point to a diet consisting mainly of fruits and non-starchy, vegetables.
Third, the length of the small intestine is too long to handle putrefying meat and is too short for grasses and grains. Humans should eat a high fiber, high-moisture diet to insure health of the small and large intestines.
From these observations, it is evident that the optimum articles of diet for man are fresh fruits and succulent vegetables. Strictly speaking, based upon man's digestive physiology, the following raw foodstuffs make up the optimum diet, listed in order of preference:
The following foods, while not optimum, can be handled by man's digestive physiology in small amounts when properly combined:
The next foods, while sometimes eaten on a vegetarian, diet, are not well adopted to man's physiology and place an undue strain on the organism:
These foods are definitely disruptive of man's health and are not compatible with his physiology:
The person desiring optimum health should eat exclusively from the first list of foods. These foods are most compatible with human physiology. Within this category, foods should be eaten in moderate amounts and in proper combinations.
The ultimate diet that is most conducive to human physiology and that promotes the highest level of health is the mono-fruit diet; that is, the eating of a single variety of fruit for each meal.
Home > Lesson 20 - The Physiology Of Digestion
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