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The best diet for the human race - Hans Dehmelt

From the earliest times to about 5 million years ago our ancient primate ancestors had been living exclusively in the deep tropical forests of Southern Africa. Here, for about twenty million years, evolution had superbly developed their fruit spying and picking skills to a degree that their numbers increased to taxing the limited food resources [1]. This in turn encouraged some of their more adventurous members to venture out into the surrounding savannas and scavenge the carcasses of large grazing animals brought down by predators and to ignore the shortcomings of this new diet that they were less well adapted to.

This group probably originated the line leading to Homo sapiens, us. As we nevertheless more and more multiplied this pattern repeated, and again and again we were forced to subsist on even less and less desirable diets until today a large fraction of the population has adopted variations of the Big Mac diet. Those remaining in the forests on the frugivorous diet changed very little and became Homo troglodytes, the chimpanzees, and our closest relatives whose DNA is 99.4% identical with ours. Their well-known current, obviously raw diet is composed [2,3] approximately of 75% ripe wild fruit, 20% of leaves and pith and 5% foods of animal origin. By dry weight wild fruit contains fats, proteins, carbohydrates, digested and undigested fiber in the approximate proportions 5 : 7 : 14 : 17 : 17.

The two essential fatty acids contribute nearly half of the fat component, about 23% linoleic and 16% alpha-linolenic. It is hypothesized that it is still the healthiest diet also for Man because for about twenty million years it has been eaten by the common ancestors of Man and Chimp. They did not cook their foods - a very unhealthy procedure.

All later diets up to the current big Mac diet of the broad American masses increasingly rely on foodstuffs such as meat, grains, beans & potatoes that have to be made edible by cooking and were only adopted under exponentially increasing population pressures. Consequently, all are less healthy and moreover they are the less healthy the later they were adopted.

Approximating the Chimp diet by suitably supplemented supermarket items may give us the best of both worlds. The following work [4,5,6] supports the hypothesis.

1. Cohen M. N. The food crisis in prehistory: overpopulation and agriculture. Yale University Press, 1977
2. Milton, K. Nutritional characteristics of wild Primate Foods: Do the natural diets of our closest living relatives have lessons for us? Nutrition 15 (1999) 488-498.
3. Conklin-Brittain, N. L., R. W. Wrangham, and K. D. Hunt, 1998. Dietary response of chimpanzees and cercopithecines to seasonal variation in fruit abundance: II. Nutrients. Int. J. Primatol. 19(1998) 71-987.
4. Ehret A. Kranke Menschen (Rational Fasting). Benedict Lust Publications; 1912
6. Lackner, W. MEIN ROHKOST – WEG

Hans Dehmelt Department of Physics, University of Washington, Seattle, USA

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