Diet from an Evolutionary Perspectivebio1
April 25th, 2011
I hope you have had good Passover and Easter holidays! On Sat. the 23rd I planted our first crop in our condo’s garden. We hope for a more bountiful harvest this season, and more participation from our community to create potted gardens, and grow our food. Eating our 5-9 vegetables and fruits a day will be fun this summer!
Diets! What can be more fundamental to our good health? Yet, there are so many to choose from. How does one make sense of it all?
It is important to get a bigger perspective in order to see the forest from the trees. Over the next several weeks, our Forward Thinking will lay out a very powerful vantage point from which to view your own diet and those of your patients. We will take a leap into Deep Time so that we may gain an evolutionary perspective over diet—ultimately looking at and comparing Paleolithic, Neolithic, and modern human dietary practices—and the consequences for health or disease.
In this week’s Forward Thinking we will go into the very deepest of Deep Time—the beginnings of Mother Earth, the emergence of the biosphere and the evolution of life on this precious planet we call home. We will connect this vast time frame to the very essence of our being. Today’s email gives us a panoramic overview that we will be able to drill down into over the coming weeks. Shall we dive in?
Deep Time to the present is divided up into a variety of time segments, the largest one termed Eons. The subdivision of Eons is called Eras; the subdivisions of Eras is called Periods, and finally subdivision of Periods is called Epochs—the shortest of time periods. We will begin in the ensuing paragraph by describing the four Eons spanning from earth’s beginnings till now. They are The Hadean Eon from 4.6 to 2.5 billion years ago, The Archeozoic Eon from 3.9 to 2.5 billion years ago, The Proteriozoic Eon from 2.5 billion to 540 million years ago, and The Phanerozoic Eon from 540 million to today.
Mother Earth is roughly 4.6 billion years old. At around the 3.9 billion year mark, with the earth’s crust solidifying and continents still forming, life began as an invisible, single-celled world of bacteria, archaeans and blue-green algae—the three branches of the Tree of Life, the genesis to all living things. For almost 2 billion year this primeval microbial world solely existed, freeing oxygen, as a byproduct of their metabolic waste, into the primordial sea and atmosphere. From 2.5 billion to 540 million years ago, there began the emergence of vast numbers of multi-cellular life within the microbial world, such as the hydra, and clear and soft-bodied creatures like coral polyps, jellyfish, and sponges. Life was evolving, setting itself up for more complex organism. From 540 million years ago to the present, the Visible Life has emerged—the age of organisms with skeletons or hard shells.
Now let’s take a look at a subdivision within the Phanerozoic Eon. The three Eras of the Phanerozoic Eon are the Paleozoic Era from 540 to 248 million years ago—the emergence of Trilobites and shell fish to amphibians, with the later part of this era being known as The Age of the Amphibians; the Mesozoic Era from 248 to 65 million, also termed The Age of Reptiles, or better known as The Age of the Dinosaurs; and lastly, the Cenozoic Era from 65 to the present—The Age of Mammals. Just in case your wondering, there is method in my madness so hang in there, I am going to take you to a special vantage point!
Let’s divide further. Taking the Age of the Dinosaurs, the Mesozoic, we can divide it up into the Triassic Period, 248 to 208 million years ago; the Jurassi Period, 208 to 146 million years ago (remember the movie Jurassic Park?); and the Cretaceous Period, 146 to 65 million years ago, ending with the extinction of the dinosaurs and about 50% of the marine invertebrate species—called the K-T Extinction, the sixth and final mass extinction in Deep Time.
The Cenozoic Era (the Age of Mammals) can be divided up into two periods: the first is the Tertiary Period, 65 to 1.8 million years ago, beginning with the emergence of the first large mammals and primitive primates and ending with the first hominoids- Australopithecines, and the second is the Quaternary Period, 1.8 million years ago to the present— the Age of Humans.
Finally, let’s subdivide the Quaternary Period up into Epochs. The Pleistocene Epoch, 1.8 to .011 million years ago—the age of the first humans, Homo sapiens—Stone Age Man (Paleolithic Man) who were hunters and gatherers. It was the age of mammoths, mastodons, saber-toothed tigers, giant ground sloths, and cave men. The Holocene Epoch, 11,000 years ago to the present is the beginning of human civilization, coinciding with the beginning of agriculture—The Neolithic Revolution, the Age of Neolithic Man, and the beginning of recorded history.
How does Deep Time relate to our diet? We are a product of this 3.9 billion year biosphere history. Our genetics were born when the first mycoplasma (the tiniest and first of bacteria) created the first semi-permeable membrane within the primordial ocean, taking into itself the chemicals for life: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorous, and sulfur, producing new organic molecules and hydrocarbon chains—amino acids, protein, fats, carbohydrates, RNA and DNA, excreting its metabolites back into the external world.
Primordially, the microbial world had figured out the biological processes necessary to make the molecules of life—the same primitive pathways of metabolism operating in our highly evolved human bodies today! Our physiological cellular processes were honed and crafted over a 1.5 billion year period of cellular evolution in the primeval microbial ocean of the Archeozoic Eon.
We are, as all of life is, a symbiotic creature. We are an amalgam of life’s evolving processes. Our human body does not only run by a collection of human cells, 10 trillion of them, but also by our human microbiome, 100 trillion microbes, in close association with our body. We are a true symbiont, wed deeply to nature and nourished best when fed by the natural world—the full operation of our metabolic pathways depends on it. Our bodies need real food to express their full genetic potential.
Next week we will look deeply into the Quarternary Period, the Age of Humans. We will examine the Pleistocene Epoch’s Paleolithic Human diet, the Holocene Epoch’s Neolithic Human diet, and our modern diets and their health consequences.
We are very excited about two products we are bringing into the Therapeutic Foods lineup this May: the Energy Sustain Complex and the plant based Trace Mineral Complex. Both products come right out of our evolutionary roots and provides food ingredients deeply connected to our metabolic pathways’ healthy functioning. The Energy Sustain provides indigenous seeds and grains from the Neolithic Horticultural Revolution, and the Total Trace Mineral Complex provides a full array of cold water extracted minerals derived from plants from deep within the Cretaceous Period strata. The plant derived minerals are extremely small particle size (relative to rock or salt based minerals)and are highly bioavailable. Next week I will go into considerable detail on these two primal food products.
This is a photo of wildlife film maker Rebecca Hosking, as a young girl, with her pet barn owl. Just in case you missed her award winning documentary, The Farm for the Future, that I linked for you last week, you have another chance here to check it out. You will absolutely love it. It is a gem. It is the whole package.