Most vegetarians will argue with you that most mammals eat a vegetarian diet and fare fairly well. They will tell you that gorillas can lift 10 times their weight on a diet composed almost entirely of plants while even the strongest among us can only lift 3 times their weight. What they haven’t figured out though is that the gorilla’s anatomy is much different than ours and also that gorillas, like all other mammals, really eat a high fat diet.
You see, the reason why gorillas and herbivores have such big guts is that that use it to ferment fiber and cellulose to produce short-chain fatty acids. Therefore, even though herbivores eat a diet high in carbohydrate from plant matter, these carbohydrates get fermented in their gut by bacteria to produce fatty acids. This is why the natural diet of mammals is a high-fat diet. They have very specialized guts, often have more than one stomach and have to eat almost continuously for this complex fermentation system to work.
If you start feeding gorillas a high fruit diet instead of their normal diet of shoots and leaves, they’ll get the same blood sugar problems we get and can even develop diabetes. High blood sugar isn’t only dangerous for us.
Factory farmed cattle gets fed a diet of corn and soy instead of their natural diet of fermentable grasses. This bad diet makes them fat and sick, just like us eating a high carbohydrate diet.
Fat through history
Throughout history of human kind, we faced a glaciation period where we had to eat a diet composed exclusively of animal products. We can correlate the time when our brains started getting bigger with the time our diet was almost exclusively composed of animals. As another proof that meat was so important for us at this period, we have all the cave paintings of animals, often with men hunting them. Fossilized excrements have also been found with traces of bones and egg shells, but no seeds. This is important because seeds don’t get digested and always end up in the stools when eaten and this means that we probably didn’t eat any plant-matter at that time.
The only way we where able to develop such big brains that take up to 25% of our total available energy is by getting a smaller gut. The gut and digestive system is an expensive system that requires a lot of resources to run properly. The way we where able to develop a smaller gut is by eating a more nutrient dense diet from meat and fat. The fat found in bone marrow and brain is some of the most nutrient and calorically rich source of food available on the planet. Since we developed tools to get to the precious brain and marrow, we where able to get to this amazingly rich source of food.
Cooking was also very important for getting a nutrient-dense and easily digestible diet that permitted us to further reduce the size of our gut.
Having a high saturated fat and cooked meat as the basis of our diet is therefore what permitted us to need less and less gut size and develop the huge brain we enjoy today.
Today, studies have demonstrated that our brains are getting smaller. A study even showed that vegetarians lost 5% of their brain size over a five your period. That is a huge change!
Meat-eating animals and cultures eating a traditional diet will instinctively go for the fatty parts of an animal first. We often had to go to great length and extend a tremendous amount of energy to hunt down and get to the fatty brain and marrow of animals. The return had to be worth the investment.
Saturated fat, a critical component of life
Is it any wonder that the fat that composes our own bone marrow and most of our brain, saturated fat, should also be the fat that we consume? Saturated fat has been demonized mainly because most sources are also high in cholesterol. Surprise, cholesterol in one of the most important constituent of life, every cells need it, the brain contains large amounts and cholesterol is the precursor to all sex hormones. In fact, a high saturated fat intake has been shown to reduce what we call the bad cholesterol, small particle LDL, and to raise what’s called the good cholesterol, HDL. LDL and HDL are not cholesterol, they are transport lipoproteins, but the whole lingo is understood upside down.
Most sources of natural saturated fat like butter, lard and tallow contain high amounts of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Those vitamins need the presence of fat to be absorbed and are primordial for the absorption and proper utilization of other vitamins and minerals.
Furthermore, the air spaces in the lungs are coated with lung surfactant composed entirely of saturated fat. When the consumption of saturated fat is too low, the composition of this lung surfactant is compromised and the lung’s air spaces can collapse. This is arguably one of the main reasons why children have so much asthma problems today.
Some sources of medium-chain fatty acids like coconut oil and butter also have potent antimicrobial properties.
Saturated fat also helps the liver flush out any fat accumulation in the liver. A fatty liver is really bad news and is normally caused by excess alcohol and fructose consumption.
I hope this article effectively showed you how intrinsically fat is related to our evolution as well as its many functions in our own bodies. Saturated animal fat should therefore be the main constituent of your diet.
I leave you with a very interesting lecture by Barry Groves at a Weston A. Price foundation‘s conference that discusses the subject in even more details. I personally enjoyed watching it multiple times.