El’s Perspectives on Optimum Nutrition
El Penski, April 2011, last update September 2013

I have often wondered why evolution is taught in K through 12 schools since some people find it very offensive; and there are few, if any, jobs for high school graduates that require knowledge of evolution and no colleges require education in evolutionary science for admission. Also, in the early 20 century, evolutionary science was tragically misused by Nazis, politicians, and some doctors.

Nevertheless, evolutionary science has been used responsibly in veterinary medicine and some areas of human medicine, but these applications are not well known. One of the areas of medicine that evolutionary science has been successfully used is nutrition: the Paleolithic or Stone Age diet.1 This fact seems be regularly overlooked by doctors and the whole of society. If you try to study nutrition, you will quickly realize that it is a very complex subject with very contradictory sources of advice and even political, commercial, and nonsensical inroads into the science. Evolution and history are the only useful tools for helping one understand nutrition.

Humanity and our predecessors evolved for million of years as only “hunters-gatherers” in a relatively undisturbed environment since there was no farming, mining, building, or managed forests. The few radically undisturbed environments now left on earth are usually extremely complex with many hundreds of thousands of species competing for survival. Professor of biochemistry Alsoph Henry Corwin,2 of John Hopkins University, pointed out in lectures and publications that the few hunter-gathers remaining in the early 20th century never died of cancer, heart disease, or some other common human illnesses. Corwin also believed if a person lived, exercised, and ate like hunter-gathers or close to it, he would never get those diseases. He said "It now lies within the power of man to banish metabolic diseases from the earth. To accomplish this objective, it is not necessary to undertake new research projects, because all the information necessary is already . . . stored, largely un-noticed, in our great medical libraries all over the world."

Europeans and Africans were not exposed to inexpensive toxic cane sugar, potatoes, tobacco and corn until very recently on the evolutionary scale, after Columbus discovered America. Exposure to large quantities of whole grains started a few thousands of years ago when farming began, and the bleached white grains could not be afforded by most people until only about 100 years ago. We can speculate that for million of years, humankind and our predecessors evolved eating nuts, berries, fruits, eggs, meats from a variety sources, a variety of sea foods from streams, narrow rivers and coastal waters. Prior to fire being used by humans, all of mankind’s food was uncooked. Before Columbus arrived, the only sweeteners Europeans had available were fruits and berries. Since mankind is now so strongly addicted to large amounts of sugar, one might assume that our predecessors ate a lot of fruits and berries.

In about 1980, my Uncle Ben Neher, who had studied nutrition most of his life, told me good nutrition could cure cancer, but I was skeptical. The medical industry/government complex has long been saying quietly that good nutrition "prevents" cancer, but they mostly stick with very profitable drugs, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and most people are accomplices by wanting to depend on doctors rather than improving their diets. The Natural Foods Network says "Regardless of the FDA's strongly biased opinions, the fact remains that foods and superfoods do cure cancer. Broccoli reverses breast cancer. Carrots help reverse lung cancer. Ginger, onions and garlic shrink tumors throughout the body. These foods are healing foods, and they do in fact reverse serious disease. That's because it offers a vast array of cancer-fighting compounds, including antiangiogenesis phytochemicals that help 'starve' tumors so they die, all without harming healthy cells."3

Most pain is due to inflammation. The Center for Mind-Body Medicine claims food is medicine.4 Thousands of research publications5,6,7 reveal that an anti-inflammatory diet can reduce inflammation very well. Such a diet includes low amounts of refined carbohydrates and fats. Instead it includes most colorful fruits and vegetables, oily fish (containing high levels of omega-3 fatty acids), nuts, seeds, ginger, green onion, garlic, leeks and red pepper.

Most people in the modern world eat every meal until they are full, but I suspect our hunter gatherer ancestors could only fill their stomachs occasionally. We are probably designed not to be full after every meal. The digestive system has been found to work better when it is not overloaded.8

Corwin claimed that he tried to eat a diet simulating hunter-gather’s diets including a large variety of raw foods. He died in 2007 at an age of 99. One of his chemist associates at John Hopkins University, E. Emmett Reid, died in 1973 at age of 101 after working most his life with many carcinogens and after he wrote a book titled “My First 100 Years.” Draw your own conclusions, but I think Corwin proved his point.

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1 Eaton, S.B., Shostak, M., Konner, M., The Paleolithic Prescription, Harper & Row, New York, 1988.
2 While I did not know Corwin well, I attended a few of his lectures, read a few of his reports that he gave me, and talked to him several times. I acknowledge he had a great influence on my thinking on this subject. In retrospect, I see him as a very great man. Corwin, A. H., Chemistry and Metabolic Disease, Handout to the Maryland Section of the American Chemical Society, February 18, 1976.
3 Natural News Network, http://www.naturalnews.com/000684.html#ixzz1NkwPbrIZ, 2011
4 The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, www.cmbm.org/professional-trainings/food-as-medicine, July 2012.
5 Olaf Adam, Corinna Beringer, Thomas Kless, Christa Lemmen, Alexander Adam, Michael Wiseman, Patrick Adam, Reinhard Klimmek and Wolfgang Forth, Anti-inflammatory effects of a low arachidonic acid diet and fish oil in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, Rheumatology International, Volume 23, Number 1, 2003.
6 Teresita Guardia, Alejandra Ester Rotelli, Américo Osvaldo Juarez, Lilian Eugenia Pelzer, Anti-inflammatory properties of plant flavonoids. Effects of rutin, quercetin and hesperidin on adjuvant arthritis in rat, Il Farmaco, Volume 56, Issue 9, August 1, 2001, Pages 683–687.
7 Tzung-Hsun Tsai, Po-Jung Tsai, Su-Chen Ho, Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Activities of Several Commonly Used Spices, Journal of Food Science, Volume 70, Issue 1, pages C93–C97, January 2005.
8 Mullin G. E. and Kathie, M. S., The Inside Tract, Your Good Gut Guide to Great Digestive Health, Rodale Inc., New York, NY, page 39, 2011.


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