Nothing has Changed Except the Camouflage
I have to admit I have been studying Nutrition with great interest for well over 30 years. Having a background in Exercise Physiology and having worked in the Fitness Industry since the boom began, nutrition has been a hot topic. What is it that gives you the edge?
When it comes to human performance, there are so many variables that it is easy to promote a belief without much proof. There have been many great debates about the role of Proteins, Carbohydrates, Fatty Acids, a plethora of micro nutrients and along with all of that, thousands of new and exciting supplements that promised miracles beyond belief.
I’ve seen it all; well, most of it anyway.
And all around me, as time passed by, I have watched the health of this proud nation crumble into a sea of blubber. Obesity, disease and lethargy have overtaken the once proud home of the Bronzed Anzacs.
All the while, I wrote articles, gave lectures, recorded seminars, wrote and developed courses, striving to turn the tide, battling to find the inspirational message that would change the thinking of at least a few. But the harder I worked, the more I was drowned out by the advertising and brilliant marketing of the burgeoning food and drug industries.
Along the way I ran head first into new theories. Often I could not tell if it was something genuinely new, or a clever new campaign of a food industry hidden agenda.
So many of the theories have never made physiological or biochemical sense to me. Often they did not make sense in relation to how human consciousness tends to operate.
Of particular interest in this area is the theories around Palaeolithic dietary habits. The theories abound about how humans in the Palaeolithic periods ate. Some say that it is the most natural of all dietary regimes. In the same writings, some researchers claim that Paleo man had a much shorter life expectancy than modern man.
In recent years, the “Paleo Diet” has really gained a footing. People who follow it tend to lose weight. That is a good thing. But I wonder about its authenticity.
But here is where some of my bias and reservations pop in. First, I am a pure vegetarian. I don’t believe I need meat or any other animal based foods to live. I have been that way for 30 plus years. Second, I was not there (not that I can remember) to witness Paleo man, so I don’t really know. And of course, I am guessing nobody else does either. And sometimes, I feel things like Paleo can be rolled out to justify the consumption of large amounts of meat.
The commonly held belief is that Paleo nutrition consisted largely of meats, fish, vegetables and fruits. The Paleo prescription says that consumption of grains and legumes started following the inception of agriculture and that they human digestive system has not evolved to deal with them. The prescription also warns against processed and refined foods. But then again, I don’t need to be a Paleo advocate to see the sense in this final recommendation.
But if you really go and search, there is not a whole lot of evidence from the Paleolithic era, in large part because hunter-gatherers move around so much. But the archaeological record that exists has been studied very, very closely and with increasingly sophisticated methods. Daphne Derven, an archaeologist and educator who has studied Palaeolithic man for many years states, “Now we can look at teeth, bones, even seeds in the same context as tools,” she explained. “For instance, it turns out that the East African hominid species nicknamed ‘Nutcracker Man’ developed a powerful jaw and enormous molars not for cracking nuts, as was previously thought, but for chewing grasses, like a grazing animal. That was the main part of his diet.”
Human’s eating grass. Who would have thought? Perhaps if the muscle gyms knew that part, the wheat grass shots would be flying out the door.
Two things really capture my attention about all the Paleo hype. First, the research that I do find interesting reveals that Paleo Poo that has been discovered and analysed, shows an enormous amount of fibre in the Paleo diet. In fact, the average defecation was up to one kilogram in weight, way more than the average today. This indicated a largely plant based diet.
Second, I don’t know about you, but if I had the choice of chasing very fast and evasive animals for food all day with a sharp stick, or simply finding some tasty treats on a tree somewhere, I reckon my lazy side would take over and I’d go the tree every time. Catching animals without modern weaponry….hard work.
In recent years we are learning an enormous amount about pre-biotics and the role of highly fibrous foods. High fibre eating is more about creating thriving gut flora than anything else and so a diet high in rich fibre, like that from grasses, legumes and grains, seems to be of major benefit.
See this is where a study of human consciousness comes in. As all the women out there know, men can be pretty lazy and not big on self-starting. Getting out to go hunt with rudimentary weapons would go against the grain of this laziness.
Second, from the research it appears that insects were a big part of the Paleo diet. Nobody seems to want to talk about that. Eating insects doesn’t really seem to fit through many people’s window.
Further, people want to find a reason why they can indulge in their desires. We see all the time people promoting the benefits of chocolate, which gives them the reason they need to eat plenty without guit. How often have you heard someone say they smoke because it helps to keep their weight down and that it’s better than being overweight?
The same exists for meat eaters. The evidence that meat consumption promotes disease is overwhelming. So those who really love to eat it will likely jump at any reason they can find to eat more of it and feel justified. The Paleo diet does just that. The evidence is there right. Let’s order a steak!
If we are really honest with ourselves, we do love to justify things. I had a friend who was dead against all forms of anabolic steroids. When he was in his 40’s a few things started to slow down. He found a doctor who blamed it on low testosterone, so guess what? He started on testosterone therapy without question, but with incredible justification.
So I have to say that reaching back to Palaolithic man for evidence that eating lots of meat is good, is like reaching back to Noah’s Ark to explain the disappearance of certain species of animal. Nobody knows.
So, I have been contemplating this a lot. Then, as I ran the other morning I had an epiphany. I started to laugh. Here is how it goes.
Back in Palaeolithic times, or even in the bushlands and jungles of Africa and South America where some tribes still live off the offerings of mother earth, everything they need is right there. Animal life, herbs, fruits and vegetables. But all of it has to be sought out and found, then captured or harvested. There are many things that might look like food, but are not.
Even the fruits on the trees are often camouflaged and cannot be seen till one is up close. There are poisonous fruits and herbs that must be avoided. At some intuitive level, animals and humans living in these environments know which is which. But still sometimes they may make mistakes.
In these environments, humans will not likely eat an animal that they find already dead as they are unsure if it is safe to eat. Some religious laws grew out of the directive to people to not eat anything that they did not see bleed and die with their own eye.
In these environments, the humans had to keep going, keep searching, keep persisting, until they found the nutritious food they needed. If they did not, they grew weak and slowly perished.
In modern life it is the same. There is plenty of really good food available. Food that is natural, highly nutritious, and rich in flavour and goodness. But, you have to find it. And it is camouflaged among a variety of offerings that at some level offer no nutrition or are perhaps even poisonous or harmful. To find the good stuff, you have to persist and put in the work, and not get way laid by the easy options.
We are still hunter gatherers, but the terrain and the camouflage have changed. Those who do not go the extra distance and seek out the food they really need, will slowly perish.
My mind relaxed. I now realise that it does not matter what false or synthetic foods are offered. Those who wish to be responsible will keep seeking till they find what they need and will not get caught out eating things that will not allow them to thrive.
But, the amazing thing about market forces is that the more people who seek out the good stuff and find it, the more others will follow the well beaten path and find it too. The tide is turning. It must.
Survival of the fittest is still running, perhaps more than ever.
As for Paleo Man, I wonder if he would eat the animal flesh he finds lying dead on a tray in a supermarket meat department? I have a sense he might take a semi interested sniff and head for the bananas.
You may or may not know that there are web pages out in cyberspace asserting that the Dalai Lama is a “Nazi fascist cult leader”, Mother Teresa led a “Cult of death” and Nelson Mandela was a “Communist, terrorist murderer.”
And these are not just isolated incidents, there are literally hundreds of links to pages spewing forth this nasty, hate filled and vindictive diatribe.
We all know people who seem to delight in occupying the negative viewpoint. We all have known people who have a nasty intention and simply wish to desecrate good works by shrouding them in suspicion and negative here say.
I am connected to people online who roll out volumes of righteous dogma every time someone presents a viewpoint they do not agree with. It goes on all around us. And the internet is where these viewpoints thrive, gain popularity and somewhere in the dark corners of some universe, become truth.
IT is an amazing phenomena. But it is not new. For centuries, people have had a fascination with rumours and have not been able to resist the urge to pass them on, just in case they are true. We have all been guilty of it sometime in the past. It is the same quality in our collective consciousness that allows Newspapers and other Media Outlets to run a story based on some story, and not on confirmed fact.
Some News Broadcasters in the US live off half-truths that get a nation of gossips and critics ready for a lynching, or even war. It is incredible to watch.
We all know that it goes on. If ever you have been at the wrong and of a slanderous story, you will know how difficult it is to regain your state of innocence; that is if you even concern yourself with trying.
I remember my brother in law sharing a story once. He is a big, overweight man, not overly gifted with social graces. In fact he can be quite uncouth. He was on a very, very crowded tram and needed to pass wind. He thought he would try to do it quietly but was immediately hit by an overwhelmingly disgusting odour.
Trapped and surrounded by people he took the only evasive action available. He looked at the man standing directly in front of him and said out loud, “You dirty animal”. That was it. The man was guilty as charged and the looks of disdain and condemnation would have wilted even the strongest soul.
My brother in law thought it was a funny story, but to me it was a powerful case study of what human beings are capable of.
But this is the piece that I find it hard to reconcile. There are people out in the world doing great work. They are backing themselves and with great courage striding into new ground, creating new and exciting things. There are people in every profession, every industry and every human endeavour doing the things that change the world. And there are people attacking them and doing everything they can to bring them down.
I am always bemused when a Politician, who has decided to dedicate his or her life to serving humanity, is all of a sudden all over the newspapers because they had a DUI charge when they were 22 years of age, or for fathering a child out of wedlock when they were 18 or even indulging in an extra marital affair at some point.
Give me a break. Is anyone on this planet perfect? Western culture has much of its roots deep in Christianity. Didn’t Jesus say things like “He who has not sinned cast the first stone” or “Is not the splinter you see in the other man’s eye not but a reflection of the log in your own?” My apologies to those of you Bible scholars out there who might pick up the error in my presentation of scripture and who may use my error to discount the entire article. Yikes!
The Buddhist say that when you point your finger at another person, you should be mindful of where the other three fingers are pointing.
Harry Palmer wrote, “Preaching Morality is Hidden Confession”.
When people accuse, you know what their attention is stuck on. You know where their transgressions against others lie. So, in general, it is quite easeful to deduce that when people openly criticise and accuse, they are confessing their own sins.
See, here is the bottom line, if someone I know does something that isn’t cool, I can accuse or I can support them to clean it up and restore their moral code. I choose the latter any day. And if I find myself feeling critical of someone, it is a red flag and a good opportunity for me to clean something up in my own space.
So back to the critics, detractors and bashers out there in cyberspace. How do their pages get so high on the search engines? Simply because people click on them and read them. See, the Internet does not need any form of censorship. What it needs is for each of us to give these preachers of doom a wide berth and not read their stuff. Every time we click on a nasty link, we are putting oxygen on a fire of deceit and hate.
Here is a way of making amends. If you accidentally end up on one of these sites, get away quickly. Then, get ten friends to go and click around on the official site of the person being attacked. With good intention, these hate filled cyber assassins can be driven to the bottom of search engines.
And you know, I have to put my 20 cents worth in on Wikipedia. There are so many profiles of good people on Wikipedia that have been created by a detractor or even an enemy. There is enough factual information added to give it legs and the rest is here say and untrue. But it sits there for everyone to read as “Encyclopaedia Fact”. I do suggest caution when researching people on Wikipedia.
So when someone tells me something negative about another person, business or service and they inform me that they have “done their research”, I can be pretty sure they have just been trawling the internet to find something that suited their own viewpoint, to keep them in their own comfort zone.
After all, the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa are both icons of personal responsibility and responsibility for the care of others. For some, that is just too confronting. They have not finished blaming and hating. So of course, they have to make them as wrong as possible.
What stance are you going to make? Are you supporting the rumour mills or are you getting in behind the good intentions and creative power of good and courageous people?