What're the best foods for human health? Many espouse eating a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet is best for a strong, healthy body. To this day, much of the medical community, and most of the food industry push this type of diet. But the research of Dr. Weston A. Price, chronicled is his book Nutritional and Physical Degeneration, proves otherwise from African tribesmen to Eskimos in Alaska. Unfortunately, the lack of direct evidence about our stone-age ancestors, who by definition didn't cultivate crops or farm animals, allows limitless hypotheses about the content of their diets.
Dr. Walter Voegtlin takes a vastly different approach to deciding what foods the cavemen consumed. In his book, “The Stone Age Diet,” he makes an argument for the higher fat, high-meat diet by comparing the anatomy and physiology of man to that of herbivorous sheep and a carnivorous dog. Dr. Voegtlin argues that large differences in anatomy between man and herbivores are evidence that man did not live on a diet high in plant foods, especially those rich in carbohydrates.
Humans are carnivorous animals and the Stone Age diet, Dr. Voegtlin challenges, was primarily one of a meat and fat eater. Like all carnivorous animals, e.g., wolves and bear, our jaw moves in a vertical motion. A herbivores’ jaw moves in a rotary fashion. We have canine teeth, ridged molars and incisors designed for crushing and tearing. Unlike herbivores that lack canines and have flat molars, mastication is unnecessary, and we do not ruminate or chew cud. Our stomachs hold two quarts, empty in about three hours, secrete hydrochloric acid, lack bacteria and cannot digest cellulose. A herbivorous sheep’s stomach holds eight and a half gallons, never empties, digests cellulose, and bacteria are vital to its function. A herbivore’s stomach doesn’t secrete hydrochloric acid, which is primarily for the digestion of protein. Carnivores like man feed intermittently while herbivores continuously feed (graze). A herbivore’s digestive tract is five times the size of man’s relative to our body size. Unlike herbivores, man’s colons are short, and our rectums are small and do not contribute to digestion. Man’s gall bladder has a vital function and is well developed. The role of a herbivore’s gall bladder is weak or nonexistent because of the lack of fat in their diet. The volume of feces from man is small because our digestive efficiency borders on 100 percent. A herbivore’s feces are voluminous because their digestive efficiency is less than or equal to 50 percent, and they must eat large quantities of food.
Stone Age man, out of necessity, ate food that was very nutrient and energy dense. Humans, in the Stone Age, by shear lack of availability, could not have consumed a lot of carbohydrates. Stone Age men couldn’t just walk outside the cave every morning and harvest what they desired for the day. They harvested what was available. Fruit wasn’t, and isn’t readily available in the wilderness. And when it is, it’s seasonal. It’s hard for us to imagine the hard life they led, but a PC diet of mostly fruits, grasses, vegetables and some lean meat just wouldn’t cut it in the harsh environment of early man.
A recurring premise among anthropologists and explorers, who were eyewitnesses to primitive societies, is that Stone Age man had a wide-ranging diet with a broad range of foods. Evidence seems to indicate that hunter-gatherers didn’t just eat a PC diet of mainly foraged roots, fruit, and some lean meat. But did they eat a diet centered on large animals with a small amount of plant foods thrown in for good measure? The
Stone Age diet varied from region to region and sometimes accommodated changes within an area, like famine and drought. Being resilient and adapting to the ever-changing environment is the reason Stone Age man survived for millions of years before agriculture. To put it simply, they lived in conjunction with their surroundings using what resources were available.
The hunter-gatherers or cavemen of North America ate animals that included mammoth, rhinoceros, sloth, bison, mountain sheep, beaver, antelope, elk, mule deer, horse and large dogs. Mammoth, rhinoceros, bison, beaver, bear and wild pigs are fatty animals in every sense, and their remains have been found at Stone Age sites throughout the world. Some archeologists believe that the caveman’s selective hunting of fattier animals is what led to the extinction of the larger animals like the mammoth, sloth, and rhinoceros.
Much has been written concerning the diets of cavemen in an attempt to secure credibility for endorsing a particular type of diet. The fact remains, however, that the interpretations of the Stone Age diet are just that, interpretations or educated guesses. The only thing we know for certain is that we did not evolve (if you believe in evolution) on a diet consisting of vegetable oil, margarine, cereal, grains, vegetables, sugar, candy, soy or any other man-made, highly processed, mass-produced food. Man-made, mass-produced products contributed to absolutely none of the Stone Age diet.