Dr. John Sorrentino D.M.D

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Constructing A Species Appropriate Diet

Heart disease, diabetes, rampant decay, and cancer and all facts of life for many people. Why do some people seem cursed with these afflictions while others are not?  Is it genetics (Spoiler alert-no!) or something else? It is common knowledge that little or any of these diseases occurred before the era of farming started about 12,000 years ago.  This lends strong support the something else theory.

The first question we must ask is what is different now versus then? Humans evolved over two million years ago in East Africa.  We ate whatever we could kill or gather.  The addition of cereal grains such as wheat, corn, and barley did not occur until about 12,000 years ago.  Combined with the current paradigm of plant hybridization, the human diet changed faster than our ability to adapt.

This guy had no cavities

Before this change in diet occurred, there was no tooth decay, or other chronic diseases for that matter, as we were eating in a species appropriate way. The dawn of agriculture changed all that but slowly. First tooth decay and diabetes.  Since the infant mortality rate of over 50% and an average adult age of death of about 45 most people died before heart disease and cancer began to appear.  Now because of the advancements in modern medicine and sanitation people are living into their eighties and even longer.  This gives more time for diseases like heart disease and cancer to occur.

I was amazed as a young dentist when I got the opportunity to examine pre-Neolithic adult skulls that showed no malocclusions, gum disease, or decay. Remember these humans not only had no medical care, there was also no evidence of even a toothbrush.  The way forward is clear.  Create a species environment for yourself.  This starts with eating a species appropriate diet.

One of the reason that there is not consensus on what the “correct” human diet is that humans also evolved systems for survival when food was not readily available.  If you maintain hydration a healthy adult can go without food for up to two months.  Then government and the gurus got evolved. Low-fat, low carb, seafood, vegan, vegetarian are but a few choices.  Each has it’s own proponents and it is easy to get confused.  I prefer to follow the dictates of evolution.

Truth be told there is no one species appropriate diet. There is more of a template.  What you should eat is based on:

The latitude you live at the time of year

In other words, follow the circadian and circannual rhythms. Humans evolved in the Old World and at the equator.  This area, compared to the temperate and polar regions have much less variable light levels throughout the year.  We enlarged our brains eating meat and marrow from the animals that lived there.  We then conquered the planet by walking the intertidal zones and estuaries until we were on every continent and island.  Always rising with the sun and eating what we found locally.  This is what we are hard wired to do.

Evolution has graced humans more than any other species on the planet the ability to adapt. As we followed the waterways to the ends of the earth and into the temperate and polar regions we were able to exploit the resources in those areas.

What evolution has not prepared us for is the modern word. Processed foodstuffs are not what the people we evolved from ate.  Understanding that we are hormonally (not calorically) controlled is key to understanding this and developing a plan.  First examine what you are eating.  Is it a whole food?  Is it local?  Is it something that humans would have eaten 100,000 years ago?  This is not as hard as you think.  Wild seafood including sea vegetables, meat, green leafy vegetables.  Fruit in season.  Organic is best but not always possible.

The next step is the circannual cycle. As we are hormonally (not calorically) controlled try to go to sleep earlier.  This will raise melatonin while lowering cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone.  Less, or better no fruit in the winter and finally stop looking at your phone or tablet after 9 PM.  Our brains are just not wired for that.

If you make these minor changes to your diet and lifestyle it will give you the ability to take charge of your health. Salvation does not come from a pill or a physician.  It comes from understanding how we evolved and looking at lifestyle decisions thru the lens of is it species appropriate for humans to do what I am doing?



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