I Want to Live
Explaining the Logic Behind the Primal Diet
I have written this guide to explain the science and logic behind why I have been eating the way that I have for the past one year. I have found a lot of benefit in this way of life not merely at a physical nutrition level, but also at an intellectual level because it has answered many questions that mainstream biology left in tangles of logical mistakes when I examined them. In this guide, I have compiled information from a variety of sources, including my own extensive education in molecular biology, to explain the rationale behind the Primal Diet and why I think it is the Natural Human Diet.
If you choose to follow any of this advice, I highly recommend the following:
Please obtain and read the book “We Want to Live” by Aajonous Vonderplanitz for more thorough explanations and protocols.
Please join a primal group either on Facebook or on Telegram to ask questions from people with far more experience than me in this matter.
Remember that it is far more important to bed fed than it is to starve, even if the food that you are eating is non-optimal.
I am still learning about all of this and this guide may be updated in the future as I learn more about this topic.
Raw vs Cooked: What’s happening at a molecular level?
The following section is described in a post called “Raw vs Cooked” by @thomas.bayne on instagram:
In 1984, a physiologist named Alexander Ugolev performed an experiment. He wanted to see if cooked meat was actually easier for an animal to digest than raw meat. The hypothesis is that the cooked meat is easier to digest because cooking helps break down food so that the digestive juices and enzymes have less work to do. Ugolev placed a raw frog in a carnivore’s digestive fluids, and a cooked frog. A carnivore is any animal that is naturally designed to consume and digest animal flesh as nourishment. The raw frog was completely digested whereas the cooked one was only superficially digested on the surface. This contradicts the hypothesis. It follows that cooking meat does not help to digest meat, it in fact hinders the process.
The body’s digestive fluids dissolve chunks of food. Food is made up of animal cells that contain enzymes in them. An enzyme is something that catalyses (speeds up) a reaction. The reaction in question is extracting peptides from proteins, simple sugars from complex ones, and free fatty acids from larger fat molecules. Peptides are smaller building block versions of proteins.
Enzymes rely on shape to function. If a substrate (something that is a part of the reaction that an enzyme catalyses) is the wrong shape, the enzyme will not be able to recognise it and therefore bind to it to catalyse the reaction. The enzyme itself is a protein that is made up of peptides and therefore if it is deformed, it can no longer carry out its function of catalysing the reactions it is meant to facilitate.
What causes proteins, fats, enzymes and sugars to change shape? One way to do this is by cooking. The heat from cooking causes a process called “denaturation”. Proteins have primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary structures. The way they fold is a tertiary structure and this is altered when the temperature is drastically changed. Cooking also alters the molecular shape of proteins because extreme heat facilitates a process called oxidation and reduction. When the shape of the protein or fat has been changed, it can no longer be recognised and therefore digested by enzymes. When the shape of an enzyme is changed, it can no longer recognise the shape of substrates and facilitate digestion and assimilation of that nutrient for example.
Enzymatic digestion and digestion by heat are not the same process. Heat changes the shape of molecules in a random and unstructured way. Enzymes alter the shape of molecules in a structured way. As a result, digestion by enzymes breaks down nutrients in a way that they can be used and stored by the body, whereas heat inhibits this process. What is heating? Heating can be done in multiple ways but it “boils” down to this: heating something gives energy to the individual moieties and bonds that form that molecule. Anything that has more “heat” means that it has more energy. Warm blooded animals (like us, and the animals we consume) have molecules that maintain their proper form at around 37C. When heat is added, this form is disrupted not merely at a mechanical level, but at a molecular one. This means that bonds that would otherwise require too much energy to form, are likely to be formed and the ones that require too much energy to break, are likely to now be broken.
Nutrients can still be absorbed from food that is broken down by heat; however, due to the combustive nature of the process itself, there are toxic byproducts created from the reaction that also accrue in the body along with the nutrients. The burden of having to process and remove these oxidation by products is part of the reason eating cooked meat makes a person feel lethargic afterwards, whereas eating raw meat produces no such effect.
This is what Aajonous Vonderplanitz conjectures in his book “We Want to Live”. Whether or not he is correct scientifically about this entire process must be tested more thoroughly, but the fact that every carnivorous animal in the world eats this way, is an indication that regardless of the accuracy of his description of the digestive process, the results speak for themselves.
Human Beings are Animals Too
Every animal in the world has its natural diet. When it eats its natural diet, it is healthy, beautiful, and suffers no diseases. When its diet is not available, it suffers greatly. To find out what kind of food an animal must eat to thrive, we can investigate its digestive tract. The digestive tract of herbivores usually includes multiple stomachs which help to ferment plant products. Fermentation is a process by which bacteria digest plant products to produce nutritious by products that an animal can use. Herbivores also have longer intestinal tracts that help it to extract more nutrients from plants and teeth that are made for chewing for long periods of time. They do not have fangs that are meant for tearing flesh from bone.
When we investigate a human being’s digestive tract, it is more similar to that of a dog’s than to a gorilla’s or an orangutang’s. We have shorter intestines, a singular acidic stomach, and sharp teeth. This means that we are best suited to eating and extracting nutrients from animal based foods. We can eat plant foods, especially roots and fruits, but these alone are not nutritious to us. This is similar to how dogs can eat potatoes and sometimes fruit, but they do not prefer it and an animal fed only this would suffer greatly.
Every carnivore in the world consumes raw meat. It also thrives, lives without disease and looks beautiful naturally. If eating meat raw somehow caused disease, then animals who lived in the wild and ate raw meat would be sicker and uglier than animals who ate meat cooked. We are animals too; there is nothing special about our digestive system that would make it so that the bacteria from raw meat would kill us but not a wild animal. There are, frankly, no differences in the digestive system to justify the logic that a dog can eat chicken, beef and fish raw, and thrive, but a human being cannot. The fact that thousands of human beings around the world exist who do eat raw meat regularly, and not only thrive, but have multiple children and glow with health decades later, is yet another piece of evidence that raw meat is not only safe to consume, but preferable.
Many new diets are always appearing in the mainstream fashions and they all claim young and beautiful proselytisers. However, the only proselytisers who matter are the ones who are able to have many children while on the diet and remain healthy-looking long term. Beauty and fertility are the strongest hallmarks of health because they require abundance in good nutrition to support. This has been demonstrated with raw meat but not with veganism for example.
Pottenger’s Cats Reveal the Truth of “Genetic” Disease
There are many diseases and conditions today that mainstream science insists are purely “genetic” but they are not. A genetic disease is one that is caused by a defect in the genes. The gene defect itself is purported to be a random mutation brought on by free radicals from basic aerobic energy formation that occurs in each and every cell in the body, as well as environmental impacts such as sunlight and other forms of radiation. Anyone with functioning critical thinking skills will understand that this is a logically unsound framework.
First, for every genetic disease studied, only a small proportion of the afflicted population even has the gene mutation that they assert is the cause of the gene. This is true from Alzheimer’s to Breast cancer. If the disease were truly caused by the gene, then the gene mutation would be both a necessary and sufficient condition to cause the disease. As this is not the case, none of these diseases can be considered “genetic” in nature. (The gene is, at best, a contributing factor, if not merely a symptom of the disease itself.)
Second, if these insalubrious gene mutations were onset by basic functions such as breathing, and being exposed to sunlight, then the frequency of these diseases would have been equally prevalent throughout history (regardless of population size). However, medical textbooks from Amenhotep in ancient Egypt to Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy from Europe reveal that many “genetic” diseases which exist today did not exist in the past. It is a fallacy of modernity to assume that our ancestors were less meticulous or intelligent than us. One merely has to look at the masterpieces of architecture from 500 years ago to understand that our ancestors were far more intelligent than us in many ways.
The following section is taken from the same post by @thomas.bayne in his instagram post “Raw vs Cooked”:
It is very important to understand the true cause of disease in order to understand the logic of the Primal Diet. In 1932, physician Francis Pottenger Jr conducted an experiment involving more than 900 cats. The experiment went on for ten+ years. Several experimental groups were created. Some groups were fed raw meat and raw milk, some were fed cooked meat and pasteurised milk, some were fed a combination. Pottenger meticulously recorded observations of each cat, every day.
If it were true that cooked meat and pasteurised milk is easier to digest and to extract nutrients from, then it would follow that the cats fed this diet would have better health outcomes and better formed bodies. Furthermore, if raw meat and raw milk were dangerous, then the cats fed this diet should succumb from a variety of diseases and not have as many offspring. Please, keep in mind that a cat’s digestive tract is not very different from that of a human being’s. We have similar stomach pH and proportional length of intestines and yes, even a similar enzyme profile. It follows that a cat is a good model for the human digestive system.
@thomas.bayne continues to describe the results from Pottenger’s experiment: Pottenger found that cats fed entirely with raw meat and milk consistently displayed excellent health on all aspects including physical development, coat quality and energy. The cats fed with cooked meat and pasteurised milk developed many issues which worsened over generations. Their bone structure in frame and face was smaller, deformed, and the cats expressed less sexual dimorphism. Sterility became prevalent and the cats were more aggressive.
Sophia Bararldi (@raw_milk_and_honey) conjectured in a video once that animals raised on cooked foods would have greater toxic load and this is why they attract more “pests”. She posited that the pests might not be the problem, the burden of the unnatural diet was and the pests were only trying to mitigate this issue. All cats in Pottenger’s experiment were kept in the same environment, however, only the cooked meat and pasteurised milk fed cats developed fleas, and got worms. These fleas and worms did not seem to infect the raw meat and raw milk fed cats despite proximity.
Of those ill animals from the cooked food group, some were placed on the raw diet. Their health improved drastically despite some detoxes that the cats went through as they recovered. Over 4 generations, the offspring of the cooked meat cats gradually restored their natural healthy phenotype. (@thomas.bayne) All the birth defects, allergies, congenital conditions and “unfortunate genetic diseases” we are seeing in young people today may be due to the progressive effects of generations of cooked meat and pasteurised milk finally showing their marks in a degenerated phenotype. In fact, even “infectious disease” may be attributed to a poor diet.
Disease is caused by a weak terrain, not by outside assaults. All animals who eat their natural diet thrive because their terrain is strong. One important feature of nature, which anyone who has studied nature to any degree will notice, is that nature is perfect in its systems. Everything has its own perfect purpose. Human beings are a part of nature, not separate from it. Understanding and accepting our nature helps us work with it, rather than against it.
Isn’t Cooking Ancestral?
Weston A Price was a Doctor of Dental Surgery who, in the 1930s, documented the health of indigenous communities of homogenous and isolated ethnicity following their ancestral diet. He compared them to their modern counterparts all over the world. Most indigenous communities ate animal foods raw such as dairy, organs and fish. These people were free of most diseases, had perfect dental development and facial symmetry. (@thomas.bayne) To read more about this, please consult Dr. Price’s book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
We falsely believe that cooking is the most ancient invention and was the reason for the development of the human brain. These are speculations made by mainstream academia with no scientific founding. Fire was created by man, not to cook meat, but for warmth and for light. Cooking was invented at the same time as the agricultural revolution because our ancestors figured out that consuming plant foods raw was almost always detrimental to health. This is because plant foods contain anti-nutrients that prevent their digestion and contain active toxins to try and kill us.
Anti-nutrients include things like phytic acid which inhibit enzymes that the body produces to try and digest them. Furthermore, plant foods contain little to no enzymes of their own to help us digest them. Herbivores contain multiple stomachs in order to ferment plant foods and be able to extract their nutrients more efficiently. Herbivores also contain 60000 times more enzymes than we have, to disassemble cellulose (plant fibre) and to obtain the fat and protein from plants. Vegetable fibres passes through an herbivore’s digestive tract in 48 hours. For a human being, it requires 24 hours. Most of the cellulose and 65% of proteins and fats are undigested. In fact, eating this food depletes the enzymes from our own bodies as we attempt to digest it. (@thomas.bayne)
Human beings developed cooking during times of starvation when there was nothing but plants to try and eat. Spices were meant to subdue to the anti-nutrients from the plant food and to make the plants more palatable to our carnivorous tongues. This cooking, then, became cultural and people often blindly pass on tradition without understanding the logic behind it. Meat was not always available year round for people, as it is for us today. In a time of plenty, it is ridiculous for us to continue to restrict ourselves when there is no need for it.
Detoxification and “Food poisoning”
The following section is also from @thomas.bayne ‘s instagram blog where he explains detoxification and the role of fruits and enzymes. He also explains why it is that most people who begin to eat their natural foods develop detoxification symptoms:
Human beings contain many toxins today. These range from heavy metals to pesticides and components of cooked proteins and fats that were left undigested in our bodies. Wild carnivores and humans from primitive tribes living for generations in pristine environments on an ancestral diet do not suffer from this problem. Meat and animal products promote regeneration but are not the best suited to detoxification. Fruits are part of the ancestral diet because they contain their own enzymes and readily digestible fructose. However fruits eaten in too large quantities can be detrimental to health as the fructose is taxing on the liver and the insulin spike from the sugars can disrupt the hormones. Most wild carnivores also eat berries and fruit in the wild. Notice that wild fruits also are not as sweet as the genetically modified ones found in grocery stores.
Fruits also stimulate detoxification. Fruitarians (people who eat only fruit) initially always feel better because they are beginning to detox, but deteriorate quickly because they are not consuming enough fat to sequester the products of the detoxification so they can safely be removed from the body, and are not consuming enough protein to regenerate the cells that have been depleted by the strain of the detoxification.
Animal products are acid-forming. Although the human body is made to digest animal products, raw meat chelates and dumps toxins from the body such as heavy metals and undigested cooked meat end-products and a lifetime of pharmaceuticals, into the digestive tract and blood. Raw carnivores therefore suffer from impaired bodily function. Meat also requires enzymes to digest leech enzymes from our bodies to try and digest this cooked food. Raw vegetable juices and raw honey are crucial in this instance. Raw vegetables such as carrots and celery do contain many enzymes, that our bodies cannot access due to the fibres. Juicing removes this fibre and helps us access the enzymes directly. Raw honey also contains many enzymes. Consuming raw vegetable juices and honey can help to support digestion during detoxification. Raw fat is crucial because it behaves like a sponge: it soaks the toxins that inevitably will be dumped into the digestive tract, and eliminate them in a more stable and manageable way. Raw meat constitutes the rebuilding of cells and replenishing of nutrients.
Detoxification is also the body, that has been deficient in enzymes and bacteria over a lifetime of sterile eating and toxins, getting used to the new bacteria and enzymes. Mainstream medicine purports that a fever is the body trying to kill bacteria that have unwittingly infected it. However, the temperature of a fever is exactly the perfect temperature for…the incubation of bacteria, not the extermination of it. A fever, therefore, is the body trying to help bacteria in the body proliferate. Bacteria is absolutely essential to the body’s recovery, detoxification and digestive system. Bacteria produce enzymes that help us to digest food. They consume dead and dying cells so that they can be replaced with healthy ones. An overgrowth of bacteria is the sign of disease, not the cause of it.
Regular fevers during the beginning of this diet are normal and to be invited because it means that your body is finally beginning to regain functions that it once lost due to an insalubrious, modern lifestyle. The body always emerges on the other side healthier and fitter. I personally remember going through multiple detoxifications in the beginnings of this diet that have since then waned and disappeared. Someone uneducated in this matter would take antibiotics to try and stop these symptoms, but they would never notice that these symptoms actually disappear on their own, if you support the body with good nutrition during them.
Living Food Hydrates You
Our body is made up of fluids, not simply water. We do not call blood and water the same thing. If I put a cup of blood in front of you and a cup of water, you would easily be able to distinguish them and not call them the same thing.
A piece of raw meat or fat, or a fruit, all contain water, yes, but they contain many other things like salts, sugars, minerals and proteins which alter the concentration of that substance. Drinking blood or milk, or fresh unpasteurised fruit juice is therefore more hydrating to a person than drinking pure water. If you have a jug of perfect lemonade, that is the exact right flavour, then add four cups of pure water into that mixture, what will happen to that lemonade? The flavour will change because it will have been diluted. To fix this, you will have to add more salt, lemon and sugar into the mixture. Imagine that this is what happens to your bodily fluids when you drink pure water in excess all of the time. The salts and minerals are taken from your body to osmotically balance this fluid.
Drinking water when you are thirsty is normal because you are listening to your body. You probably are very thirsty. Cooked food has almost no water in it. It is dried out. When you eat food that is alive, however, such as raw meat and milk, you will find that you actually do not crave water like you did before. The water in your food has already hydrated you perfectly. Then, you will only crave it if it is extremely hot and your throat is dry from dry air.
Water doesn’t hydrate skin, nails and hair. What happens when you put water on a piece of hair and let it dry? It becomes frizzy. What happens when you put water on your skin and let it evaporate? Your skin will also become dry. This is because it is fat that gives the look of “hydration”. Eating raw fat is what gives you dewy skin and glossy hair, not drinking galleons of pure water every day, depleting your already mineral depleted body.
Many people make the false analogy that plants perk up when we give them water so the same must apply to humans. However, plant cells are fundamentally different than animal cells. Plant cells contain vacuoles. These are organelles that contain water, and the pressure from the water in these vacuoles gives structure to the cell. The cellulose in the cell wall also contributes to the strength of a plant cell. Animal cells do not have such a structure because we gain our integrity from either an exoskeleton or an internal skeleton (I prefer an internal skeleton, personally).
You Are What You Eat
Raw meat contains cells that are still alive (even if the animal itself is dead). Cooked meat contains cells that are dead. What does it mean for something to be alive? It means that it can still process information. Its proteins and fats are functional (because their shape and form is still intact). The primary form of information transfer is calcium signalling. It is crucial for cGMP cycles as well as signals on the cell surface that instruct gene expression. In fact, in the heart, calcium signals between cardiac cells to synchronise beating, and between osteocytes in the bone to regulate bone growth in response to weight or strain.
Heating cauterises calcium to make it non functional. This means calcium is no longer able to flow within the cell or between one cell to another. Thus, information transfer is no longer occurring between the cells you eat and the cells in your body. This is a part of the primal diet that is still enigmatic to me. It is difficult for me to understand why explicitly, at a material scientific level, why eating dead cells is informationally different than eating alive cells. However, I understand intuitively that alive cells are better because it is better to build our body with alive things rather than dead ones, right? Eating is also a lot more alchemic than I think modern science understands. It means there is a spiritual and magical aspect to the transfer of life from one living thing (either a plant or an animal) to another.
Human beings are a part of nature. When I started this diet one year ago, starting with one humble piece of raw liver, and then mince meat, I remember doing a silly thing when I looked at my teeth in the mirror. I really was much closer to the lionesses and wild animals we see on tv. We are of this Earth as much as they are. There is no logical reason why, at a material level at least, we would be so much more “sensitive” or different than them. I remembered that there are stories of human beings who were supremely beautiful and long lived, in every mythology around the world. I understood that the history of human beings as it is told to us, might not be completely accurate. Perhaps we are much weaker now than we should be. Perhaps progress is not an arrow forward and upward as modern education has taught us. Perhaps we must look backward at the ruins of our ancestors and respect that they had a lot more figured out than we did. Or, even more humbly, we may simply look at the wild animals around us, so effortlessly healthy, beautiful and vibrant with life. We are not so different, if we simply listen to our nature.
To read more about this topic:
Book: We Want to Live by Aajonous Vonderplanitz
Book: Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A Price
Book: Goodbye Germ Theory
Book: The moth in the iron lung
Book: Bechamp vs Pasteur, the lost chapter in the history of biology