In Paleolithic times - not so long ago in physiological and metabolic terms - food was inevitably local, seasonal, nutrient- dense, whole, ripe and organic. We ate astonishing amounts of leafy green vegetables, including bitter herbs which stimulated digestion.
Grains, which now form the bulk of our diet, were seldom eaten. Milk was not drunk after weaning; otherwise we drank water (dull perhaps, but at least it didn't contain pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals).
Dairy is now an "essential" food for young children and many of us eat it daily. Meat was leaner, richer in omega 3 and fed on vegetation; animals were not medicated or fattened.
This diet supplied up to 1000 times as many good gut bacteria as we have now, ten times as many antioxidants and many more minerals, but a fraction of the saturated fat and sodium.
Priorities have shifted, over the past 70 years especially in the case of processed food:
- A long shelf life is often at least as important as whether the product does us any good
- Processing foods can destroy between 20 and 80 per cent of the nutrient content, remove fibre and enzymes essential to our digestive health, stimulate dopamine which is linked to addiction, as well as adding lots of salt!
These changes have in turn stimulated new dietary advice - drink more water, supplement with lecithin, probiotics and vitamins.
However, some of us question whether our bodies can in fact keep pace with such dramatic dietary change, which may lead to many of our present health, metabolic and nutritional problems.
There’s a convincing argument that our bodies have adapted to our new diet, bringing us direct benefits - we have become stronger and taller.
How completely our digestive systems are able to withstand the burden of a modern diet, with its absence of natural "lean periods" is still to be established.
When it comes to buying foods consider including foods that are raw, nutrient-dense and organically grown in a clean environment.