The Hunter Gatherer: Ancestral Nutrition and The Yoga of Eating

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Humans are Hunter Gatherers which implies a very powerful concept and that is that we are what we eat. Often we here this saying “we are what we eat” and think only of its implications to our personal individual diet and its quality. In many ways a species is defined by its diet, because diet determines an animals nature; it decides it's place and effect on the ecosystem in which it lives. Such as how apex predators deeply impact the health of the environment or how herbivores keep vegetation under control while also acting as food for the carnivores. In many ways diet determines everything from the size of brains in relation to body weight, to the daily patterns the animal lives with; herbivores spend a large part of the day eating in small quantity while carnivores and omnivores eat more sparingly, but in larger quantity. So food is no small thing and to live is to consume other life. Regardless of what type of diet you do follow, if it is inspired by natural whole foods, while removing "food stuffs", than you are tapping in to the ancestral core whether you are a vegan, vegetarian or an omnivore. Here at Healing the Human Animal, we focus on educating individuals on how to apply the principles of eating like a wild Homo Sapian without trying to imitate one. 

Food in a natural setting (the wild) is a time consuming endeavor and it forms a large percentage of what our (jobs) would be; the hunter goes out and hunts while the gatherer gathers. The survival and more importantly, the thriving of the species depends on organic substances acquired within that context. Without nutrition there would be no science, no philosophy, no parenting and no productivity. 

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 Acquiring food is of extreme importance because without food we die, so a large part of our psychosomatic energy has evolved to get food. It has long been known by leaders and dictators that if you control the supply of food - you control the people. In today's modern agriculture driven world food is easily available, taste amazing and is in abundant supply. The hunter and gatherer is hardwired deep into our make up having been in our programming since the dawn of the modern human species and its ancestors. This disconnect between the hunter gather and the farmer is at the root of a host of the health issues we face today.

Nutrition is an extremely complex subject that is at the mercy of the context it is put within. For instance, dietary concepts can stem from biblical sources, biological sciences, political biases, morals, pathological disorders, epidemiological studies and anthropology. So having a consistent reference point is quite a challenge! Thus our world view as a whole deeply influences and is simultaneously influenced by what we believe is meant for consumption. As said above, in spiritual practices what we eat is often a consideration;  everything from Abrahamic religions to yogic philosophy, from Pagans to Buddhist. It seems to be understood that what we eat and the state of our spirit is connected. Which really does make sense as our bodies (the temple's) are food. An alligator can make a meal out of us as surely as we can make one out of the alligator.  

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Food, whether of a specific type, the exclusion of a specific food, or a complete restriction (such as in fasting), has been considered to play a powerful role in mental, emotional and physical evolution by many traditions. For a long time, the link between what is consumed and the experience of the spirit has been a recognized truth. With that said, the specific reasons for dietary observations in any culture would be both a mixture of practical necessity and of the goals being pursued by their school of thought. Often if the focus becomes the "purity of spirit" at the exclusion of the body, then the diet becomes less grounding by restricting animal foods and the overall quantity of it is kept small. The diet is made to be less "heavy" by these changes. In the same vain the most grounding diet possible is one based off of traditional omnivorous hunter gather diets. 

However, there is currently a fad, which is referred to as the "Paleo Diet" and while well meaning, it is in fact impossible to follow in today's world. We do not live in the paleolithic era. There are pollutants and other man made chemicals spanning the entire globe that is now a part of our food supply. If we were to kill a mastodon with spears, crack open the bones and suck the marrow out with a side order of sour wild berries that no longer exist, then we would be eating Paleo. Cavemen were not eating a five course meal of peppered beef, hybridized spring veggies, gluten free bread, some chicken eggs and 5 different type of nuts at every meal. We can not and should not, try to base our diet off of eating a puritan Palo diet because such goals are an illusion. What we can do is understand the "principles" which ancestral meals were built with, then apply them to the contemporary world and viola, you have the peppered beef and 5 different types of nuts. 

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As much as traditional spiritual cultures do not seem to refer to this,  there is a deep ancestral bond that can be instilled in our experience through the adoption of a diet inspired by our ancestors: by eating real food. Through it we can find an ancient connection to a primal past. At the same time, as research pours in from anthropological sources, biological sciences and anecdotal evidence, it is this type of nutritional strategy that confers the most health benefits. It ameliorates states of disease and causes us to erupt with vitality. Eating like a wild animal can offer us the resilience, strength and capacity of a wild animal.  

Ancestral nutrition is simply a context, although it is one that stems back into our roots as a species and to the origins of life as a whole. The context of what “types” of  things an omnivorous animal in the wild would consume, is the oldest context.  

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Wild animals rarely suffer from chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and chronic fatigue; diseases which are often referred to as diseases of civilization.  Although there are many factors in these psychosomatic states of imbalance, such as being sedentary, overly stressed, sexually repressed and mentally numb, nutrition plays an enormous role. During the process of healing my body from the many childhood diseases I suffered from, I discovered that restoring my nutrition to one influenced by our ancestral heritage was a necessity if I was to thrive.  Nutrition is not just a collection of individual parts: such as proteins, fats and carbohydrates, but a delivery system of complex information. Feed your body the ancient code it evolved to use for its primal programming.