As a student of Naturopathy and an opinionated health enthusiast, I am often gushing about some new miracle food that I never realized was so beneficial or about how to tweak our lifestyles to gain that extra bit of vitality. The most common question I hear people asking is what is the healthiest way to eat? Is it vegan, vegetarian, and is meat really so bad for us? I thought it was about time to really analyze different animals’ systems to see if any of them are a biologically similar to those of the modern man. It is certainly no surprise to anyone that humans are considered omnivorous, we have evolved to digest a large number of different foods, from animal flesh to plant products. The question is, do we need to eat EVERYTHING simply because we can? What type of food is not only capable of sustaining us, but is truly our ideal source of Given that a generous amount of the population consumes meat, let’s take a look at the fierce carnivore. Carnivores have sharp teeth designed to tear at their prey’s flesh. Their teeth are spaced apart so that the pieces of meat do not get stuck between them and putrefy. They generally have tough tongues meant to lick the blood off of their opponents and sharp claws meant to immobilize their victims. Carnivores have an extremely short intestine, about four times the length of their bodies, enabling rapid expulsion of its contents, vital to protein digestion. The Carnivore’s liver is particularly large due to its need to process and neutralize the toxins circulating in the blood from protein waste in a predominantly meat diet. They have strong kidneys that are able to filter ammonia and very acidic urine, gastric juices and saliva. There is no doubt that the difference between a human’s anatomy and that of a Carnivore’s are vastly different, perhaps suggesting that although man can adequately process animal meat, his physiology and health may not be best served by the regular consumption of such food.
Given that many among us consume plant based diets, let’s take a look at the humble Herbivore. These animals have sharp incisors that allow them to cut grass and their molars are flat and wide allowing them to properly grind and chew the plants consumed. Herbivores have unusually long digestive tracts, consisting of four different pockets all necessary to complete plant digestion. The intestine is about 25 times the length of their bodies which enables them ample time to absorb the complex nutrients within the plant fibres. They easily digest cellulose from plants, something that the human being is not able to do. Since the food contents ingested by these animals are low in protein there is no risk of putrefaction in their long intestines making it obvious that the Herbivorous animal is not made to eat foods rich in protein. This animal’s saliva and urine are alkaline and its tongue is smooth. It is plain to see that many of our oral traits and body levels of alkalinity are similar however our digestive tracts as humans are not adept at properly assimilating all of the nutrients available in plant foods.
Let’s take a look at the fussy Granivore since most of us eat grains, refined or whole, probably more abundantly than we should. The Granivorous animal such as the hen or pigeon has no teeth and a very complex digestive system that is able to digest even very hard grains. These animals have a gizzard instead of teeth, which acts as a grinder that emulsifies the grains into a powder. Granivores have more than one chemical stomach wherein the grains undergo digestive transformations. They have very short bowels, not allowing food to stay very long because their intestines cannot hold onto feces. This quick expulsion of food helps these animals avoid intestinal intoxication. If we compare the human digestive tract to that of a Granivore, it is clear that man is lacking the ability to break down the complex starches in raw grains, requiring him to cook/soften his cereals in order to be able to even begin breaking them down intestinally. The fact that food must be cooked to be consume suggests that it is not an ideal food for the design of our human digestion. It is important to note that grains are generally high in protein which leaves significant waste products behind after ingestion.
Let’s take a look at the friendly Frugivore. This animal has nails instead of claws allowing it to peel fruit, particularly bananas. It has two hands and two feet so that it can gather fruit easily. Their short canines are used to break the hard shells of various plants while their molars are medium-sized and can chew fruit but do not crush or knead herbs like the teeth of herbivores. This animal has only one stomach, with only mildly acidic gastric juices suggesting he is not made to digest foods high in protein. The Frugivore has alkaline saliva, with the proper enzymes that enable the digestion of starches, similarly to man. It has alkaline urine as the human should if he is not overloaded with acidic residue from foods such as meat, cereals and cheese. The frugivores gut is neither short nor long, about ten times the length of its body, allowing food to stay within its gut for a relatively long time. Foods high in protein would begin to rot in that timespan, making fruits and seeds a frugivore’s ideal fare.
After thorough analysis, it seems safe to say that the human digestive system and general physiology and appearance resembles that of the frugivore more so than any other type of animal, and therefore for optimum health and easiest assimilation of nutrients, fruit and seeds should comprise a decent portion of the human diet. It is important to consider that due to overuse of antibiotics and the consumption of processed chemical food, our digestive power is weak and our intestinal flora is unbalanced, often favoring pathogenic bacteria and yeasts rather than good probiotics. A heavy consumption of fruits and complex sugars might provoke digestive distress in those who are out of balance. This is remedied through dietary changes and some digestive healing. A healthy gut will easily digest fruit and seeds. That being said, I feel confident in moving forward with my choice to reach for an organic apple. Bon appetit!