The Great ‘Gorilla Biscuit’ Experiment

The Great 'Gorilla Biscuit' Experiment

SeafoodThe Agricultural Revolution brought mankind the ability to grow food crops in vast volumes, in particular, the grains that have come to dominate the Western diet. The Industrial Revolution brought us the ability to manufacture oils from seeds (corn, soybean, etc.), to create new plant varieties by altering their DNA, to use chemical extraction methods to produce a range of products (such as high fructose corn syrup), and to artificially colour, flavour and preserve our foods. When you add in the many ways we have changed our agricultural and animal husbandry practices, you begin to see how extensively we have altered the human food chain in the Western world in just a few decades. The ready meals on our grocer’s shelves bear little resemblance to what our grandparents or great-grandparents used to eat, never mind what our paleolithic ancestors (whose genes we bear) consumed. Could this have some bearing on the modern-day healthcare crisis that we are facing?

John Durant, in The Paleo Manifesto, tells the story of Mokolo, a western lowland gorilla living at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in America. Like many other gorillas living in captivity, Mokolo had a bad health profile: obesity, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, and an enlarged heart indicative of heart disease. He also suffered from diarrhea and bizarre behaviours such as regurgitation and plucking out his hair. Heart disease is the number one killer of both gorillas in captivity and humans. But Mokolo didn’t drink or smoke or eat fatty foods or red meat or do any of the things that are supposedly associated with heart disease in his human cousins. In fact, he was a vegan whose diet consisted of ‘gorilla biscuits’ containing all the nutrients scientifically determined to be necessary for maintaining the health of gorillas in captivity.

Researchers wondered if Mokolo’s diet was contributing to his health issues, and they decided to replace the gorilla biscuits with plants that more closely resembled what gorillas in the wild eat. After about a week on the new diet, Mokolo (and other zoo gorillas involved in the project) stopped having diarrhea and exhibiting the regurgitating and plucking behaviours. More importantly, Mokolo’s blood pressure and triglycerides dropped and he lost up to 15% of his body weight, even while consuming twice as many calories. The health profiles of Mokolo and the other gorillas in the project changed within a week of returning to the diet their bodies were designed by evolution to eat.

The Western world equivalent of the gorilla biscuit diet is the ‘British Eatwell Plate’ in the UK and the ‘USDA Food Pyramid’ in America. These are the dietary recommendations that the professional dietary bodies in each of these countries promote as the answer to the question, “What should we be eating for maximum health?” In both cases, the recommendations contain large percentages of foods that were never part of our ancestral diet: grains and cereals, beans and pulses, dairy products, processed and grain-fed meats and poultry, manufactured seed oils, processed sugars, and even fruits and vegetables outside of their natural seasons and growing regions.

Our modern diet is truly a gorilla biscuit experiment of epic proportions, and the research is now showing how it is having epic consequences on our health within only a few decades. You can wait for the various experts and professional associations and government bodies, all with their own vested interests, agendas and egos, to stop arguing with each other and give a consistent message about what you should be eating. Or, you can do your own experiment: try eating the diet that we evolved with for a few weeks, and see how your body responds. If you’re like me or Mokolo, your health profile can start changing within a week!

About the Author

Dr. Gerilynn Moline is the owner of Evolutionary Reboot®, an educational business based on the principles of evolutionary health and nutrition. Through workshops and coaching, she teaches people how to reverse chronic illness and early ageing by realigning their environment to their biology, allowing the body's natural healing process to work.

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