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Old 06-15-2009, 06:52 AM   #1
Darryl Shaw
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 681
Default What is the optimal anthropoid primate diet?

ABSTRACT Following Socrates’ advice “You should learn all you can from those who know. Everyone should watch himself throughout his life, and notice what sort of meat and drink and what form of exercise suit his constitution and he should regulate them in order to enjoy good health.” Based on biological, chemical and physical considerations I have attempted to synthesize guide lines for an optimal diet from the vast literature. For an offshoot of the primate line it may be wise not to stray too far from the line’s surprisingly uniform predominantly frugi- and herbi-vorous diet that is only lightly supplemented by hunted small mammals, eggs, nuts, insects etc. By dry weight raw wild fruit contains fats, proteins, carbohydrates, digested and undigested fiber in the approximate proportions 5 : 7 : 14 : 17 : 17. The fat component contains both essential fatty acids, about 23% linoleic and 16% alpha-linolenic, the latter severely lacking in Western diets. The practical problem is how to as best as possible, but not religiously, approximate this diet with super-market items.

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Nutritional characteristics of wild primate foods: do the diets of our closest living relatives have lessons for us?

The widespread prevalence of diet-related health problems, particularly in highly industrialized nations, suggests that many humans are not eating in a manner compatible with their biology. Anthropoids, including all great apes, take most of their diet from plants, and there is general consensus that humans come from a strongly herbivorous ancestry. Though gut proportions differ, overall gut anatomy and the pattern of digestive kinetics of extant apes and humans are very similar. Analysis of tropical forest leaves and fruits routinely consumed by wild primates shows that many of these foods are good sources of hexoses, cellulose, hemicellulose, pectic substances, vitamin C, minerals, essential fatty acids, and protein. In general, relative to body weight, the average wild monkey or ape appears to take in far higher levels of many essential nutrients each day than the average American and such nutrients (as well as other substances) are being consumed together in their natural chemical matrix. The recommendation that Americans consume more fresh fruits and vegetables in greater variety appears well supported by data on the diets of free-ranging monkeys and apes. Such data also suggest that greater attention to features of the diet and digestive physiology of non-human primates could direct attention to important areas for future research on features of human diet and health.
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