So many times I see written, “Everyone’s needs are different,” regarding nutrition. I don’t get it! I am not saying that everyone else is wrong and I’m right, I’m saying – I don’t get it!
This is my understanding and my interpretation. Our evolution, (from what we have been told of our origins) has gone through many stages and almost certainly began in Africa. Homo Sapiens has walked the Earth for millennia. Many of the “Homo” subgroups died out, for various reasons, leaving modern humans to rule. This happened around 200,000 years ago.
WE ARE THIS SPECIES! Each and every one of us is the same. We have the same amount of bones, our eyes/nose/ears/nervous systems are formed in the same way. We all have a sense of taste and smell and digestive juices and enzymes. If you think about why this is, you will come up with the answer that they are needed to detect what is good to eat and what is not. If it were not the case, evolution would not have bothered with these senses and we’d have died out because we ate the wrong things. After all, wild animals and birds just eat instinctively what nature intended – why should we be different?
I should say at this point, that we almost certainly did not have a conscience about what we ate and other animals have always been on the menu. Animals/birds/fish (everything organic of course) were relatively easy to obtain and yielded tasty and satisfying food. Modern humans have always cooked their food. If meat is being roasted, the smell immediately starts the digestive process, getting all the necessary juices and enzymes on their starting blocks in readiness for the food about to be eaten. If any vegetable matter was eaten, it would have been from necessity, more than choice as they just do not smell as good as a roast wild pig! Fatty animals were preferred, as it is fat eaten with protein that brings about satiety. Without fat, the hunt for food would have been impossible and we would have been weak. There is a dangerous condition referred to as “rabbit starvation” - the effect of consuming lean protein without fats.
The fact is that if every edible part of an animal is eaten, all known (and possibly unknown) nutrients for the life of humans are available. It is how it was and it is why we are here.
We in the UK (and this blog is generally based on how I see our history in the UK) settled as farmers about 10,000 years ago. According to the consensus, we are genetically identical to these ancient people (even from 40,000 years ago). We have adapted to the temperate climate – our eye colour and skins have lightened, but our nutritional needs are unchanged. We still need protein (fish, meat, eggs) and fats along with the nutrients they supply. There are essential proteins and fats, meaning we must find them in our diet. There are no essential carbohydrates, meaning we can live very happily without them.
If we were still living this way, we would be eating what was available at that time. The problem is, we now have too much CHOICE! It’s easy to choose, when the choices are leaves, snails (yes we did!) or duck. Frankly, all would have been eaten at some point as it could be eat or die. But now – oh boy! We have almost limitless choices and we can refuse to eat something, knowing that we can have something we prefer. Luxury! We can eat “out of season” and cheaply, but this means consuming less nutrients, a helping of pesticides/herbicides and foods we are not digestively designed for. All this weakens us as individuals and as the species Homo Sapiens.
The correct diet for individuals depends upon where one lives in the world. Continents have differing animal species and vegetation so when it comes to meals, of course they will be different. But the nutrients must stay the same and in similar proportions.
So when a nutritionist says everyone is different in their needs, they can only be partly right. A healthy individual requires our ancestral diet and a few other more modern foods, such as raw dairy and properly prepared grains/legumes, to make life easy. A sick person needs advice on all aspects of healthy living and may temporarily need alterations to the ancestral diet, in order to heal first.
Homo Sapiens is completely suited to, and equipped for our ancestral diet. Fortunately, we are omnivores, which means that we can occasionally eat, enjoy and tolerate a little foray into more modern foods (but still healthy ones I hope!).