Eating Right = Living Right

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This posting was inspired by a conversation with my wife’s yoga instructor and trainer about diet and being a vegetarian. The benefits of being vegetarian are numerous. Some believe strongly in being a vegetarian and more in veganism, or being more extreme with their diets.

The argument is are we, or were we carnivores, and is eating meat unnatural, or bad for our colon. I absolutely believe that we were carnivores and are carnivores.

If we look at human anatomy and teeth we have evolved from our counterparts and we became adaptable to where we lived and accessibility to raw materials. Carnivorous have teeth used for grasping and sharp premolars and molars, used for severing. So did we ever have those types of teeth in our evolution?

It is obvious that today we do not have those types of teeth of a cat or a meat-eating animal, but Japanese people have a very different set of teeth than Westerners. Crooked teeth have not always been considered a drawback in Japan. In fact, the “double-tooth” look caused by the overlapping of two front teeth in the upper jaws is considered cute in children and young women. So why do they have those extra teeth?

If I would argue that people who live on an island have different diets (and teeth) than those who live on mainland. By the way, we evolved by making hand tools, hunting spears, sharp rocks supplemented for using our teeth. Animals did not evolve the way we have, so they rely on their teeth as their principle cutting tool. We have modern-day knife and fork but interestingly, the Japanese who do not have it, have a second set of teeth that are forefront and much more pointy. Hence evolution and in time they will disappear.

Their hand tools for eating were and are still principally “hashi” wooden sticks and thus many foods were small-sized or cooked in a way to be torn easily. Foods were smaller and is this the secret to good health. Food combinations and balance in diet between fish, meat, grains, and fermented veggies, etc.

It is clear that while the Japanese have very different teeth, they too have a diet that was most dependent on fish and to some extent hunting. If you go to South eastern Asia people eat water rats, rats that we detest and horrify. But they adore their meat and diet.

If we do not have sharp teeth than is it unnatural to eat meat? I would argue yes and no. Yes it seems unnatural but that doesn’t mean that we cannot eat and digest meat, or live in society as plant eaters, or on grains alone.

Humans were probably cannibals before they were carnivores. The reason they started eating animals is simple, it was easier than hunting and eating humans. Eating meat seems unnatural but there are many other things that we do which are unnatural. For example, the way we use make up, perfume, etc.

We can argue forever, if it is good, or bad. From the viewpoint of a diet, maybe the “good/bad” and “natural/unnatural” discussions are a bit easier when you decide what works best for your own body.If you think that avoiding meat is a good thing, I would do it. If you are afraid of fish and mercury then be cautious. Contamination is everywhere and cancer and disease is on the rise as we live longer. A paradox.

If we look at science there are varying opinions and I trust pure science more than I do quacks that profess in theories that are unproven. This does not mean that science is always 100% accurate because Humans are often mistaken. If theories are tested and they become mainstream, used by other scientists to help evolve science, then I am interested.

Keep in mind that we have adapted to a lot of changes in the past 100 years with the introduction of the fridge. But your stomach is still fundamentally the stomach of a million years ago. The changes in environment, the way we live, the chemicals, the processes are all a part of human evolution. We have no choice but to adapt to where we live, and what is available to eat.

Humans are not ruminants and some herbivores who are non-ruminants digest in a particular manner. The fermentation takes place further down their digestive system. This means that by the time the tough walls of the plant cells are broken down, the food has already gone past the part of the gut that absorbs most nutrients. This means that they have to eat huge quantities in order to get enough nutrition. I do not believe that humans in the harsh conditions we evolved in could only eat plants and vegetables.

Getting the right amounts of nutrition is not as easy as it looks. When you restrict yourself, you narrow the nutrients unless you are very scientific about it. Being a vegetarian or vegan is obviously a matter of choice. I respect people’s choices but eating is not a guessing game. Whatever you choose to be, you need a well-defined plan, and in cases where you limit yourself to a narrower range of foods, you should be more detail conscience in your approach.

Humans create, fight, destroy and build all at the same time; this is evolution of mankind today, yesterday and tomorrow.