Originally posted by Dr. Davis on 2013-05-22
on the Wheat Belly Blog,
sourced from and currently found at: Infinite Health Blog.
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of WB Blog articles.
Hungry, naked, and desperate
Imagine yourself a primitive member of the Homo
species: standing around 4 feet tall, nearly hairless, with limited
ability to navigate the trees like the chimpanzees and other apes. You
are virtually helpless against the vicious predators of the
savannah–no claws, but fingernails; no large canines but diminutive
canines, incisors, and larger molars. You can run, but not as fast as
some of the larger predators. You are unable to tear the throat of an
antelope with your hands, nor can you rip open the abdomen of a gazelle.
You can’t fly and have only limited capacity to navigate water.
But you’re hungry, experiencing an intensity
of hunger you and I have never felt. This is when instinct kicks in. You
WILL find food. It might be found in an insect mound, or a wounded or
aged monkey, nuts that you learned could be eaten if you cracked open
the hard shell with a rock, the roots of plants dug out by hand or heavy
sticks. Hunger drives instinctive behavior, an innate knowledge of what
to do, what to eat, in order to survive.
We have lost that connection to instinctive
knowledge. Wouldn’t it be great if, upon meeting a dietitian to
counsel you on diet, she simply said, “Well, follow your instincts:
Then you’ll know what to do!” It doesn’t work that way
in a modern world where we are divorced from our internal wisdom.
I have a beautiful little Boston Terrier, Sophie.
She is loving, throwing herself on her back in that unique way dogs show
submission, hoping for a tummy rub. She was raised her entire life on
(grain-free!) kibble that I purchase from the pet store. I never
showed her how to hunt or kill. Yet, when I let her out into the backyard,
this lovable, submissive creature reverts to a killer carnivore, stalking
squirrels, rabbits, and birds. And she’s been successful, tearing
the throat of a rabbit, for instance, then consuming the flesh and organs.
Why do animals maintain the instinctive knowledge
of what represents “food” while we lose this capacity? How is
it that we are so influenced by such non-instinctive factors such as clever
marketing, even if the product can be classified as “food” only
in a very loose way? Is abundance the driver of this separation?
Is it due to the presence of artificial enhancers of appetite that fool us,
such as those in wheat flour and cornstarch, or the sugars in sweets?
We have somehow been separated from our own internal
natural knowledge–it’s there, to be sure!–of what is food.
We spent 2.4 million years since our transition from Australopithecines
exercising our internal script in finding food. Between 4000 and
10,000 years ago (differing in the various parts of the world and with
different grains) we began to view grasses, plants inedible
in their native state, as food: wheat (einkorn and emmer), rices, maize,
oats, sorghum, millet, barley, and sugarcane. Until that relatively recent
time, Homo had not regarded members of the Poaceae family of plants as
something that was consistent with the instinctive notion of food.
Grasses: ubiquitous, hardy, populating virtually
every corner of the earth, from tropics to tundra. We learned that, by
processing the seeds or other parts of the grass, we could eat these
ubiquitous and often non-perishable items and survive another day. It
was not part of our evolutionary programming, it was not something
immediately evident as food. Grasses were something, like poisonous
tiger blowfish or deadly toadstools, that we managed to incorporate
into diet through various manipulations.