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Healthy Reading: The Paleo Manifesto – Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health by John Durant

21 April 2016 - Posted by Kathryn Kos

Welcome to the MicrobiomeThere are many paleo-diet books out there, explaining how to eat for optimal health. However, this book is very different. In fact, it isn’t a recipe or nutrition book. Durant actually shares the science and history behind the paleo lifestyle, and why it makes the most sense from a biological standpoint. Durant explains how following this lifestyle (all aspects of it, not just eating), can help with many modern health issues we face.

In the first section of the book Durant gives us an overview of the history behind the human diet. He discusses life in a zoo for animals, and the behavior changes the animals exhibit when removed from their natural habitat. This gives us an understanding of how important it is to know our roots as human animals!

To understand human health we have to study our own species, the human animal. We start by looking at how we lived as hunter-gatherers on the African savannah.

Durant details how early hunter-gatherer tribes typically went about their day, divided labor, how they dressed, and what they typically ate. Unlike our modern day diet staples, heavily comprised of gluten and dairy, the hunter-gatherers diet was very diverse.

Over the course of a year a diet might have included hundreds of wild plant species, dozens of wild mammals, fish, reptiles, and insects. Almost the entire animal could be eaten or put to use, including bones, organs and marrow. Roots and tubers were an important food source. The wild predecessors to grains, like wheat, corn or rice were negligible until late in the Paleolithic era, though some wild grasses were consumed.

In the second section of the book Durant describes how a paleo lifestyle can be incorporated in a modern world. He goes over every aspect of primal living, not just diet. Durant discusses principles for a healthy diet, fasting, movement, standing and walking, barefoot running, thermoregulation, sleep, and circadian rhythm. He takes ancient principles and describes how to incorporate this into your current lifestyle.

In the last part of the book, Durant discusses some of the more “taboo” aspects of the paleo lifestyle, such as actually hunting down, and fishing for your own food. He discusses vegetarianism and other ethical issues surrounding agriculture and the industrial food system.

Our industrial food system currently feeds the world, but has some serious health, ethical, and environmental drawbacks.

Durant concludes that our planet will be here for a very long time, even after we are gone. We are not destroying the planet, it’s a self correcting system. If we screw up, we destroy ourselves, not the earth.

The Paleo Manifesto covers history, archaeology, sociology of food, and throughout he carries a sense of humor that really keeps the reader engaged. This book gives readers an honest look at the Paleo Lifestyle. Durant doesn’t make it all about paleo eating, as many other authors do. He really delves into all the components of this lifestyle! Rather than listing out paleo “do’s” and “don’ts” Durant discusses the overall purpose of the paleo lifestyle, which is living for optimal health!

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