Special Diets/Evolution of Nutrition
Are we specifically more adapted to any types of fruits and vegetables from parts of the world?
We spent so much of our evolution as "homo" in Africa evolving and eating the local fruit and vegetation. Is there any reason we would be more adapted and better at digesting and absorbing nutrients from the plants and fruits of Africa? Say you took a person from Africa or Europe and introduced them directly to North America. Now would they be just as healthy eating the wild fruit and vegetation from there? Does it all come down to obtaining nutrients regardless of the type of fruit or plant? Or are people adapted to specific foods from? If this makes sense
I was only discussing matters of evolution the other day with my dentist. I used to have an Anthroposophically schooled dentist who took his patients whole health into consideration, but I had to find a new one recently, and now have a conventional lady judging my teeth, or rather the care I take of them as very unevolved. I refuse to have my (perfectly healthy) wisdom teeth pulled, and she (like the other 10 dentists I had before I found my Anthroposophic one) subsequently refuses to treat all my other (perfectly healthy) teeth with any proper attention till I do. She believes we have evolved faster than our teeth can keep up with us. But then what about the appendix? Or our earlobes? Totally useless appendages we might as well have surgically removed at birth too? It's one thing to rip out an eye that bothers you, but to modify oneself (and transfer suffering, pain, or illness onto something else) in accord with some theory is pointless in my book. Likewise, I don't think the right diet can be properly gleaned by looking into our past. It probably takes a more intuitive or pragmatic approach, preferably a sensible mix of the two.
Why do I speak of my dentistry issues here? Perhaps, to state up front that I am never very interested in evolutionary debates. They seem easy ways out to problems which I believe exist for personal development. Life - especially in the 21st century - is all about the individualisation process. It really is irrelevant where your ancestors came from. The question is where are you now?
My mouth is not entirely left unmarred by my stubborn clinging on to my wisdom teeth. 20 years ago my bottom teeth became very malaligned. It makes for an unsightly higgledy-piggledy row down below, and every so often the molars 48 and 38 nag for weeks on end. Then I know there is something shifting in a major way for me. I figure if I wouldn't be able to tell by my teeth, I'd get another joint, sense or organ playing up. The body is designed to make you listen. Nowhere more so are there ears and eyes in place than in systems which communicate our daily needs, as does the whole digestive process(starting with the mouth).
Modern science prefers to read history from the body, or geography for that matter. I prefer to read the unique, unprecedented, uncopiable self.
Sometimes similar conclusions can be drawn, however.
We can note that people have certain traces of their origins in their DNA. I know an avid meat-eater with a typically vegetarian gut (several centimetres longer, or so a colonoscopy revealed). Does this explain his chronic constipation? Has he chosen a diet incompatible to his evolutionary path? Am I the vegetarian being silly in keeping my bone chomping teeth in a jaw already decreased in size by smart(?) breeding to accommodate teaspoons and straws?
Africans who have been recently unnaturally moved (by evolutionary standards 3-400 years is nothing) seem to do fine on produce indigenous to North America. Likewise world-wide people seem to do fine (or not so fine really!) on totally artificial or highly processed foods. Nutritional benefits can be found in new foods for which we cannot possibly have become adapted by evolution (yet). Think of baby milk powder, for example.
Now there are such diets invented which hold a radical theory that you should trace your evolutionary preferences (by your bloodtype) and eat accordingly. (The bloodtype diet.) Raw food diets and paleontologial diets (dinosaur age diet) claim to take you back to your roots, too. Why this should make you feel better is not so obvious from any scientific perspective. These diets, therefore, are always ideological and support visions and intuitions, so bascially promote I-development, which is entirely independent of genetic evolution.
Genes, I believe, may reflect our state of soul, and subsequently our mind and disposition, than the other way around.
The whole story on obtaining nutrients is not so straightforward from my perspective either. You could take one astronaut pill a day if it were. Not everybody can sustain themselves optimally on the same diet. Are the differences entirely determined by our physical condition, or our genes, or our upbringing and traditions? It is true that I could not digest meat anymore without digestive problems after 40 years of being a vegetarian. The body does start to set around certain habits. (Just like my incisor teeth succumbed to the push of the molars.) But maybe, if (I lost my brain and) built it up slowly I could consume meat happily again in 2-5 years. The thought of it now, though, does not make me happy so it's another one of those things I am going to refuse to do (which caused me a lot of problems when I was living in Spain in the nineties when vegetarianism was practically unheard of).
Maybe, I am going on about my teeth and my vegetarian diet so much because it is more interesting to talk about specific choices you feel compelled to make. Unless you want to write an essay on nutrition and evolution - but then you need to consult several books with various views on nutrition. From a holistic (my) point of view, it is more interesting to debate with yourself why you eat what you eat. How much do you really need to eat what you eat? How much do you really love it? For the life this food gives you is also the fuel for love of self and all (as if it were your self).
Then we get to the platform of eating in order to relate, communicate, indeed commune with the world outside ourself and the world within. Unifying the two. We come to the "yoga" of diet. The art of eating and the A-Z of nutrition starting with the relationship you can have with it, including its life (from seed to fruit), and all that touched upon it (the bees, microbes, planetary influences etc). For this reason, it can be very recommendable in a holistic diet to start with what you KNOW. And often we know next to nothing (you can't eat knowledge, you can digest experience and sensation).
We all know a banana - or so we think. Because we see it everywhere. It is one of the most commercial products in the world. And the most toxic - both considering the sprays used and the exploitation of innocent people and damage to mother nature.
Is it a coincidence that children fed too many banans (regularly) suffer more colds? Especially those in temperate climates or western locations. Is this because of their evolution (away from African conditions)? Or because the banana is a cooling fruit (handy in Africa)? As we evolve from Industrial Man into Techno Man and we are overheating our brains, we seem to crave banana more and more. Name me something that does not contain banana nowadays!
It has changed from an easy nutritional source (necessary in tropical places) to a fattening fuel. Something similar has happened to the coconut and many more. The raw food industry must be doing horrific things for mulberry trees and inca berry bushes. We've already done it to cocoa and nuts. Do we reach for the banana because our African or tropical island gene is crying out for it? Nope. It's cheap, it's sweet, it's colourful, it's full of (naturally) "dopey" chemicals that make you nice and drowsy. The calories are so easy to obtain from a banana it is per definition a western, 21st century, consumerist fruit - we are wise to ration if we want to become more self-aware, or self-consicously evolved. Or at least, think about it with your WHOLE body, soul and spirit.
On holiday, or after emigrating for a job, say, it takes only a short while before you get used to the local food (or never at all). Your body may undergo changes for it (especially your body odour) for better or worse, but may it show that we are all very adaptable when in good health (it also helps to be young and more flexible). But this getting used to is never in isolation from the whole EXPERIENCE of your LIFE in whatever country you are. The same goes for a change of condition - from good to bad health, or when you have to suffer a new chronic need. This experience may be a part of the whole evolutionary tale of Mankind, but that is hardly relevant to your personal process.
I sometimes eat fruits from the other side of the world because I want to tap into an Argentinian vibe. Eating a granny smith in summer, flown in from somewhere it has just been autumn, can sometimes make for a very direct energetic experience in that sense. You are then literally eating a bit of foreign soil, air, water - not only a handful of vitamins and minerals. But to eat strawberries at Christmas (flown in from far) makes less SENSE to me. My wintery senses are simply not aligned to this summery fruit. It would make for a very specific sensory exercise if I were to savour one then, and in most cases it makes for a decadent or entirely thoughtless (un-conscious) choice. If we are told to think about the carbon footprint of a strawberry (in Britain) in December it is to help us attune ourselves to the cosmic language food carries over into our hearts with every bite. (Now the strawberry, as a rose-family plant, does carry special significance pertaining to Christmas, if you take a Christian-esoteric view....and so the story becomes ever more complex, but also ever farther removed from evolutionary matters.)
To give you another example of how tricky it is to think about nutrition too generally or too scientifically-ideologically, we may note that the Raw Foodies can get themselves into trouble, if they live in Iceland say, or anywhere with a proper few feet of snow every winter, with their anti-cooking. Even on a windy October evening a hot cup of cocoa might be nice! A bowl of hot soup has more properties than nutritional value. The whole cooking process can add a near alchemical-element to a meal. Likewise vegans, or other extreme dietary preferences opted for on an ideological basis, take a very small fragment of the world for their nutritional experience - not that the vegan kitchen is not delicious and varied in its own right; but to lose touch entirely with the global, united nutritional vibe of mankind is not any more compassionate. There must be trendsetters for sure, and there are spiritually-evolutionary disadvantages to the consumption of animal products - but we must also not ignore entirely our natural physical evolution! Am I now completely double-backing upon my whole story to you??! Not really, just trying to put spirit before matter.
I leave you with these things to ponder on and must note that, eventhough you ask a lot of questions, the real reason for your question remains unclear to me. Since it is not a personal question I cannot really answer it any better for you. Please feel free to personalise your question if this is what you were trying to do (i.e. are you considering a specific diet for yourself? Or are you trying to dissuade someone from becoming a fructarian?) If you are merely marvelling at all the current dietary trends, each one claiming louder than the next to be the ideal one for perfect health and happiness, I believe I have reponded in kind: it's a crazy world out there and sometimes it is easier to look back (at homo africanus) or forward (into a non-existing ideal) than just to sit with yourself and your most heartfelt appetite for life.
Keep questioning us all! And I hope you love what you choose to eat.
My very best to you,