Reflections On The Apparent Demise of The Ancestral Health Symposium (AHS)

Here's the post that came across email yesterday.

After four years of successfully staging annual Ancestral Health Symposiums, we regretfully announce that AHS15 will not be held. We were looking forward to it so much that we began planning for it before AHS14 took place, but despite our jump on the process, we hit several speedbumps along the way that eventually contributed to the event not coming together.

Apparently, they're looking to ramp up their Journal of Evolution and Health which, frankly, with a single published issue in 2013 is a journal in name only.

I can't say I'm surprised and moreover, I'll be surprised if this isn't really the prelude to the eventual end. Having an ancestral health symposium is a decent idea and I thought AHS11, the inaugural, was really great. I still recall Stephan Guyenet commenting "this is like being in the Internet."

I also attended AHS12 at Harvard and am particularly proud of my presentaton at that event. It turns out I came within a "cunt hair" of being disinvited. I can't divulge the source, but long after those events, someone forwarded the entire email thread between those board or committee members charged with the decision (I'd called some women, including Melissa McEwan, a very bad word on Twitter). Ironically, it was Seth Roberts and Melissa McEwan herself who intervened to keep me on the schedule.

That knowledge gave me a bit of added perspective on why, after this post slamming comments by an AHS12 volunteer, McEwan launched a Tumblr campaign against me.

I did not attend the last two symposiums, nor did I submit a proposal for a presentation. Many reasons, but I guess primarily, it comes down to my observation that it was increasingly becoming a giant exercise in lots of confirmation bias, or, simply a get-together where the same speakers, year after year, offer up essentially the same general narrative.

At AHS11 there were really no vendor tables I can recall—just the kind souls at Grassland Beef offering up endless free samples of their wares in the form of beef jerky and pemmican.  Contrast that with AHS12 were there were a dozen vendor tables—a good percentage of them were for various "Paleo" treats and bars—along with the embarrassing irony of conducting a "safe starch" panel in the other room (hosted by Jimmy Moore) were its tantamount to a potentially taboo subject. Go get your "Paleo" bars, but be very careful not to get taken with the idea that our ancestors ever ate a starch granule.

In retrospect, the iron grip control the LC community in general has exercised over AHS is possibly what's killing it now. And if that's the case, justice is served.

I looked closely at the program for AHS14, hoping to see lots of presentations exploring the rapidly burgeoning science on the gut biome. Nope, just a few tokens, the rest largely the same old LC schtick that generally ignores the biome.

In short, the ancestral community has evolved past the Ancestral Health Society. Hopefully, Keith and Michelle Norris will integrate whatever lessons they perceive from this in going forward with their Paleo f(x) Conference. I wish them well and in fact, months ago began hearing whispers that lots of people were seeing more value there.

Catching a Nouvelle Vague For a Week

No Idea outcomes, but it's my birthday tomorrow; just arrived up here today, will be here for 5-6 days, depending on when I feel like leaving. Family is coming up starting tomorrow. Lots. Haven't seen my long haul truck driving baby bro in almost a year and I get weepy when I think about seeing him.

...In a manner of speaking.

I'll blog when I want, absolutely and only what strikes my total fancy. No sun much here, so I'm not likely to get any blisters in it.

Perhaps though, you'll dance along with me. In my world of fantasy.

...Just know that we'll eventually take different roads and love will tear us apart.

But we'll be in peace, and in the name of love. Right, Bono?

I'll see you later.

The Ominous Duck Dodgers Comment Grace Liu Deleted

She doesn't want to you to see it in her Jan 23, 2015 comment thread.

Duck Dodgers has left a new comment on the post "Lose Weight, Body Fat, Improve Blood Glucoses and ...":

I'll try again, P1, and hopefully Grace won't censor me this time. [The cunt did - Ed].

P1 said: "Duck, can you share some of the points about honey that you have learned?"

For starters, see: Honey as a Source of Dietary Antioxidants: Structures, Bioavailability and Evidence of Protective Effects Against Human Chronic Diseases (Free Download)

P1 said: "I think you are not giving Grace's points their due. She is just objectively pointing out which types of fibers feed known good families of bacteria, and she is also pointing out that RS2 largely feeds bacteria that are harmful."

I'm sorry, but the evidence that's been presented has been extremely weak and was mostly conjecture if you read it closely.

P1 said: "No one is really responding to or denying the truth of those claims, and she does provide links to research."

I suggest you read the evidence she presented more closely, and with a critical eye. The studies often do not reach the same conclusions being presented here.

P1 said: "If you accept those claims"

I'll stop you right there. Saying that something feeds "bad" bacteria or "good" bacteria is mostly marketing speak. Just about any food feeds "bad" bacteria. And there has been no discussion as to what levels of "bad" bacteria are helpful.

Raw honey often contains spores of some very pathogenic bacteria and pathogenic yeasts. Is that a reason to avoid honey given that is seems to provide significant benefits to those who consume it?

P1 said: "I think it is pretty fair to ask what would be the presumed health benefit of taking large amounts of RS2? And I think it is quite appropriate for her to evidence that question by further pointing out that recent human trials of RS2 fail to meet good endpoints."

The evidence in those studies is rarely as conclusive as it's been presented in Grace's posts. Again, it's mostly conjecture. Secondly, nobody advocates "high doses" of RS2 anymore. So, I fail to see what the point of these posts are about.

P1 said: "The dose makes the poison in all things, but the fact that everything has a toxic dose isn't really a response to her post."

Actually it is. You could literally write the same exact series of posts using any food, fiber or liquid.


What a laf. That's too much for her, even after she tried—in Fake Doktor ways—to claim Duck has chronic fatigue syndrome and how's that going in light of PS consumption (both are actually false).

Tell you what, go leave respectful, critical comments but copy them. If they get deleted, email to me and I'll post every single one, so long as they meet the respectful criteria. Slinging shit is my job, so don't encroach.

I'm still working on another post about honey that will be up soon.



Let Me Go All Homophobe On Your Butts

Ha, just realized the title has an implicit contradiction in terms. Oh, well.

That Chick-fil-A post yesterday was off the cuff, stream of conscience...just a nagging itch, really. I got a pretty reasonable comment from a person who happens to like different genitals than I (assuming male, since 'gay' and not 'lesbian' was used).

It’s good to hear that there’s a decent fast food establishment in existence. Due to the owner’s homophobic comments, I would never give them any of my business (although, to be completely honest, it’s probably more out of orthorexia than my coincidental affinity for the same sex… I never eat fast food) but I fully support free speech and am grateful to live in a country where you can express yourself freely, no matter how ignorant or hateful the expressions may be. I have friends who eat at chick-fil-a and it doesn’t offend me in the least. I vote with my dollar. They can vote with theirs.

But regarding the workforce: Nothing like robots to keep a well-oiled machine functioning without kinks. Keeps the novelty and creativity at bay. Even Stalin would be proud. Can’t wait to give ‘em a chance as soon as I start eating fast food and stop being gay.

My reply:


Well, first of all, I think the “homophobe” label has become as meaningful as “racist,” “feminist,” “misogynist,” et al…where nothing contra the Official Agenda can be uttered or written without being tagged with it.

I didn’t look at any of the comments made by C-f-A, but I’m generally against using neologisms when words like “ignorant” will do just fine. In this case, it’s probably religulous-based ignorance.

Anyway, I hesitate to relate this—’cause it’s not at all that I have gay friends (like a token I wear around my neck or pet I walk on a leash). We have lots of true, longtime friends who happen to be gay and lesbian (we used to own an urban loft).

So, this runs the gamut of me being the handyman on call for two old dykes (one now past—we attended the Unitarian funeral) to house sitting, pet sitting, mutual dog walking with Mark almost every night…trading saltwater aquarium tips with Ale (and tending to each others tank’s while on trips), innumerable dinners at their places and mine, visits once they moved away, and even a couple of them flying up from Gay WeHo to surprise me for my 49th bday. And much more.

Here’s the thing though. Once you know them as friends the “gayness” or “lesbian” stuff is irrelevant and so, I’m sick to fucking death of hearing about it. Hell, in Mark’s case, in his bag of profound idiosyncrasies and eccentricities, being a single gay man is the least of his queerness. If he didn’t exist, you’d have to invent him.

And neither does “marriage equality” interest me. Sure, I suppose they have the right to be just as miserable as everyone else in that regard, but the state has no business in marriage contracts, and certainly not to change terms on you after you’ve signed up. Marriage should be strictly a social institution where traditions are determined by those sharing like values (religious or secular).

I’m tired of the requirement, now, that virtually every show on TEEVEE has to have a token homosexual and oh, even if it’s a cooking competition, it’s somehow relevant and has to be alluded to over and over.

Finally, not everything in the world has to be comprised of people “expressing themselves.” Sometimes, perhaps a business wants to express ITSELF to clientele in a way that jives with THEIR values, and they seek employees willing to jump on board with that.

OK, that's all. Doggies and I are headed to the cabin where family is joining me over the next couple of days for my 54th. Beatrice heads up tomorrow straight from school.

Chick-fil-A Is Definitely Discriminating

Beyond the sin of having a really head shaking, Dumb-ass-Name, I merely recall some time ago flocks having ruffled feathers, squawking on and on—like they'd had their heads chopped off—about how the chain was interfering with various pecking orders...or something.

There's been one around here for some time and so I decided to check it out.

The food—as fast food goes—was excellent. Chicken nuggets of actual chucks of chicken dredged in flour? Green leaf lettuce on sandwiches? So fast food goes, anyway.

Worrisome though: all the employees were lean to normalish in body composition, conservatively groomed, sporting well fitting, relaxed fit uniforms in a conservative black & white fashion.

But worst of all: there were no tats, piercings, and one could easily tell males from females!

What in the fuck is this world coming to?

Antagonism is the Opium of the People

Die Religion ... ist das Opium des Volkes

Wikipedia gives the basics in terms of origination.

"Religion is the opium of the people" is one of the most frequently paraphrased statements of German economist Karl Marx. It was translated from the German original, "Die Religion ... ist das Opium des Volkes" and is often rendered as "religion... is the opiate of the masses." The quotation originates from the introduction of his proposed work A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right; this work was never written, but the introduction (written in 1843) was published in 1844 in Marx's own journal Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, a collaboration with Arnold Ruge. The phrase "This opium you feed your people" appeared earlier in 1797 in Marquis de Sade's text L'Histoire de Juliette and Novalis's "[R]eligion acts merely as an opiate" around the same time. The full quote from Karl Marx translates as: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people". Often quoted, the interpretation of the metaphor in its context has received much less attention. [1]

It is, of course, still quite valid. Still, in 2015, it's kinda difficult to find a human being who doesn't literally believe in the equivalent of flying unicorns that fart rainbows. I call it all doG for metaphorical shorthand. Thankfully, it's become far more hilarious than worrisome...and lafable for me too, in recent years...because I talk to lots of young people every chance I get.

Do you talk to a lot of young people, like honestly? If you don't, then you have no idea of what's absolutely coming your way.

...Circling back, did you notice that this valid Marxist formulation was all like, a long time ago, like 1800s & shit?

Butt-Fuck: now, half of what you SEE on TEEVEE is about lesbian, gay, bi, transsexual (LGBT) stuff. IOW, the kinda stuff that pretty much makes all doGs roll in their clouds.

What gives?

Religion is established, institutional...wears a very nice tighty nighty for the political elites. It's the Bedfellows metaphor the metaphor was made for.

You get to have your rainbow-farting, flying unicorns. They can even be black...or transexual.

What you don't get to do is to not have your antagonism over all of it, with your fellow human beings.

That antagonism—running 24/7 on Fox, CNN, MSNBC—is the life blood of a decrepit and dying paradigm of opium via human antagonism.

Get high while it lasts.

What Transactions Have the Royal Society of South Africa Been Up To?

OK, so after my post of day before yesterday juxtaposing Grace Liu being a normal inquisitive soul with cool ideas vs. whatever it is she's going on about on her blog, I was watching comments and seeing one after another deleted that inks to her own writing. Duck got one comment to stick.

You know I have a lot of respect for you, but your assertion that raw starches are not ancestral is extremely weak and is in no way supported by the anthropological literature. It's sloppy.

For instance, using 5 "ancestral" species of bacteria that are inherited from non-starch eating primates as proof that raw starch is not ancestral is a logical fallacy. It's very misleading.

Humans eat starch. Primates do not. Therefore, raw starch is not ancestral? I'm afraid you will need to do better than that.

It's well known that USOs are extremely important to human evolution, for millions of years, and it's more than a little odd that you would try to claim that only "cooked" USOs were eaten when they were perfectly safe to eat raw.

Tiger nuts are just one example of a sedge tuber that has had a close relationship with humans since the dawn of humankind. The tiger nut is safe to eat raw and was one of the first cultivated plants in Ancient Egypt. Even today, kids in Europe snack on raw tiger nuts as candy and the Valencians drink their raw horchata as a medicinal superfood.

Paleo Indians at Mashantucket were shown to have yellow nutsedge (weedy tiger nut) starch all over their tools. To suggest that these sedge tubers, which were perfectly safe to eat raw, were somehow only eaten cooked will require far more assertive evidence than a short poorly-researched paragraph engineered to needle your ex-collaborators.

Not only is there overwhelming evidence showing the importance of sedge consumption by our distant ancestors, but there are plenty of studies showing a variety of different sedge tubers consumed by H. Sapiens.

For instance, here is a study that was published last week!

Nuts for dinner? Cladium mariscus in the Middle Stone Age at Sibudu, South Africa

The Middle Stone Age ended ~50–25,000 years ago. To suggest that sedge tubers were only eaten cooked is like suggesting that pecans were only eaten roasted. It's preposterous.

As you can see, there are a wide variety of raw sedge tubers besides tiger nuts out there. I hope you don't plan on trying to discount the raw consumption of every USO that's ever been classified.

I was interested in the new study. Someone found the full text for me right under a tattered pillow with lots of dog hair stuck to it. The abstract is online.

Nuts for dinner? Cladium mariscus in the Middle Stone Age at Sibudu, South Africa

The sedge, Cladium mariscus, has been identified in Middle Stone Age deposits at the shelter Sibudu, South Africa, where the leaves were used as “bedding” – an informal floor covering for various activities. Cladium mariscus nutlets were recovered from layers 73,000 – 39,000 years old and are likely to have entered the shelter on the plants harvested for bedding. This paper explores the possibility that, in addition to the use of Cladium mariscus leaves for bedding, the nutlets were collected for food. The underground storage organs and nutlets of many sedge species are eaten by contemporary people and they are known to have been eaten in the past at other sites. Nutritional analysis of the nutlets and rhizomes of Cladium mariscus indicates their potential as a food source, notwithstanding the small size of the nutlets. Although there is no evidence for the preparation of Cladium mariscus for consumption at Sibudu, the abundant nutlets produced by the plants, their nutritional value and the ease of harvesting the nutlets indicate that they could have been a useful dietary item. At Sibudu, as early as 70,000 years ago, the complicated mastic recipes for hafting stone tools indicate that the shelter inhabitants possessed advanced pyrotechnological skills and sophisticated knowledge of the chemical properties of materials. It is possible that these abilities were applied to the processing of Cladium mariscus nutlets. Such activities could imply an early example of intensive collection and possible processing of a particular plant food.

Beyond that, I think the dogs would bark if I gave out the full text, so you'll have to be satisfied with my confirmation bias, unless you know the same dog owner.


Ripe for the picking, would an abundant, easily harvested and nutritious resource have been ignored by people at Sibudu in the Middle Stone Age? The fruits of the sedge, Cladium mariscus (L.) Pohl subsp. jamaicense (Crantz) Kük fulfil these desirable criteria and were available in the uThongathi River, which flows at the base of the steep cliff in which the rock shelter Sibudu is situated. Approximately 12 km down- stream from Sibudu, the uThongathi River reaches the east coast of South Africa and flows into the Indian Ocean. Although Cladium no longer grows near or downstream from Sibudu, it was present in the past (Sievers & Muasya, 2011) and was used for “bedding” – plant material informally laid down on the dusty, stone-littered shelter floor to provide a clean and comfortable surface for a range of activities (Wadley et al., 2011). In this paper I argue that in addition to the use of Cladium leaves for bedding, Cladium nutlets (< 3 mm, single-seeded, indehiscent fruits) were eaten and that even though it is possible to crush and grind the nutlets between one’s teeth, processing of the nutlets at Sibudu is a possible scenario.

So, they ate them, maybe processed them.

The use of Cladium leaves as an informal mattress need not preclude the use of other parts of the plant for other purposes. Sedge nutlets, corms, tubers and rhizomes are widely reported as food in archaeological and ethnographic contexts, in southern Africa and further afield (e.g. Van Wyk & Gericke, 2000; Simpson & Inglis, 2001; Crawford, 2007; Sievers, 2011) and likely were an important dietary item for hominins even in early Pleistocene times (Van der Merwe et al., 2008; Wrangham et al., 2009; Sponheimer et al., 2013). The prolific production of nutlets on individual Cladium inflorescences indicates that the nutlets are an abundant food source and this warrants analysis of their nutritive value; the rhizomes are more difficult to harvest, but their nutrient values provide useful comparative data.

Need I even get into Dental Calculus Reveals Unique Insights into Food Items, Cooking and Plant Processing in Prehistoric Central Sudan?

The evidence extracted from the dental calculus has shown the use of fire, and possibly smoke, in all periods. Cooking on an open fire does not always fully gelatinize starch granules. Variable gelatinization of starch granules following open fire cooking). The Hadza, for example, are known to cook their tubers for a very short time, possibly to facilitate peeling and chewing, while leaving the interior of their food raw [38]. Therefore, despite the raw appearance of the starch granules in the pre-Mesolithic samples, they could have come from food items that had been lightly heated...Some of the ‘char’ observed in the calculus samples may also derive from exposure to fires for non-culinary purposes...In the pre-Mesolithic samples...all these starch granules appear undamaged. In some cases starch granules occurred in groups of two or three, still intact and lodged within remains of the thin cellular wall (Figure 2). This suggests little or no external processing...No diagenetic effects [20] are apparent and the granules display no evidence of any form of processing or heating either in the presence of water (which leads to swelling) or roasting (which leads to drying and cracking); this suggests the plant food may have been ingested raw or after only little heating.

Or, you know, there's lots of Paleo Brownies to Order ONLINE! Free Shipping!

Help Some Kids Get A Library Book Grant

I'm generally immune to blegs asking me to vote for stuff online. Generally, that is.

The wife unit gets dispensation. So, no, I'm not asking that you vote me the most curmudgeonly a-hole in this part of the blogosphere. Rather, I'm asking you to vote so my wife's school gets $10,000 of private grant money to buy books for the school library. Part of the decision is how many votes their school video gets, the other part, the merits of the grant application.

Beatrice has become pretty good at writing grant applications, for private money—not tax dollars. Last year, she wrote a grant in order to get a first class gym installed in the school (over $100,000). She got it, the only elementary in CA, and it was such a big deal Gov. Jerry Brown did the ribbon cutting.

So, it's a short video to watch, then a vote, which can be done via Facebook or email. If done by email, you can vote with as many addresses as you receive mail at. Moreover, everyone can vote once per day. Voting ends this Friday.

Go see the video: Katherine Smith School - No Excuses. Every vote counts!

The Hunt is On: Tiger Nuts, Per Grace Liu

It was interesting skimming Grace Liu's latest post (part 6 of her Gish Gallop on how RS2 is gonna killz U—after making you fat, destroying your "ancestral core," and giving you hamster gutz, among other very bad stuff), in spite of thousands of anecdotes to the contrary, including a couple of recent revelations of individuals stopping their intake on her advice, and getting worse again (see here and here). Tim Steele has a comprehensive view of the whole deal that includes laughing.

In her latest, tiger nuts (high in RS2) are now implicated. Now, rather than a beneficial mainstay that helped Nutcracker Man flourish for 1 - 1.2 million years and possibly profoundly altered hominoid evolution, it's only suitable for non-cooking hominids and you should never eat anything raw—not just tiger nuts: but any nuts, fruits, vegetables (right, by implication?). Because, once you've moved on to cooking meat, everything that contributed to the evolutionary steps is now poison, kills your ancestral core, gives you hamster gut...and hangnails. Basically, anything that now goes wrong with you, if you consumed RS2, that's the cause.

It reminded me of what I still do consider to be the most interesting idea she came up with for the book the three of us were working. Tim had drafted a tiger nut overview that Grace insisted on expanding. Below is 80% Grace. I edited to remove words in caps, too many "hawt" references, and 'explanation' points!!! Thought you might take a look and ask yourself why she's now willing to have people be worse off in embracing a 180 degree different view. What's the real agenda?


Nutcracker Man was lifted from his plight as that of an intelligent ape, to a lineage that would become fully human. His growing brain was fueled not by hard-to-obtain foods that required nearly all his time to find, but by tiger nuts—the roots of what we’d think of as weeds—that were rich in iron, fat, protein, and carbohydrate. [1] Each thumb-sized tuber of the tiger nut was the equivalent of eating a small frog. It wasn’t meat but it distinguished him from his neighbors and predecessors. [2] Coming from frugivore (fruit eater) and foliovore (leaf eater) backgrounds, this new food was the equivalent of an energy bar. [3] [4] No longer are plant tubers of this nature thought of as "fallback food," used only for basic survival, but as a source of primary sustenance. Tiger nuts and other tubers shaped man's evolution just as Darwin's finches beaks and morphology were shaped by radical changes in source allocation of seeds on the Galapagos Islands. [5]

Tiger nuts were the original ribeye steak compared to leaves and fruit. But unlike a delicious steak, tiger nuts also furnished ample plant fiber food for our vital gut bugs. It’s rich in insoluble fiber, resistant starch, and other fuel. Tiger nuts also supplied a generous source of carbohydrates, fats, short-chain omega-3 fats (ALA), protein, vitamin C, and a full spectrum of the minerals (iron, zinc) and micronutrients needed to enable the rapid growth of a large brain. Is it any coincidence that stone tools began to be crafted by these early men shortly after this ground-breaking meat-like main dish appeared, making up Nutcracker man’s entire food pyramid? Nutcracker Man thrived, grew a bigger brain, and made tool technology to collect and process more food. He lived the longest out of all the Australopithecine. He weighed the most and grew the tallest. After him, all of our ancestors possessed grander noggins and more slender jaws. Exceeding one million years of domination, Nutcracker Man was ultimately replaced by the more advanced hominin, Homo erectus. The meat- and seafood-eating versions became human evolution’s breakthrough prototypes —Homo ergaster, Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalensis and us. [6] [7]

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[“Comparative context of Plio-Pleistocene hominin brain evolution“ Journal of Human Evolution (2001) 41, 1–27 doi:10.1006/jhev.2001.0475. Increased brain size ~440 cc to ~540 cc in during 1mya duration A. boisei with longveity and diet rich in C4 sedgenuts and tigernuts.]


Nutcracker man outlasted, outsurvived, and outsmarted many of his bigger-brained, notable contemporaries: A. robustus, H. rudolphensis, H. ergaster, and H. habilis. This was no easy feat as weather patterns shifted and food sources changed radically. Forests which were flush with waterways and rich resources only dot the landscape during the Pleiocene epoch. Nutcracker man’s peers became successively extinct at 200 to 300 thousand year intervals, yet during the one million years he claimed a wide ecological niche (~2.4 mya to 1.4 mya), Nutcracker man’s brain actually expanded and grew by a significant ~25% from a measly ~440 cc in volume. During this period, H. ergaster and H. habilis grew slightly larger brains as well; however, they failed to last as long as Nutcracker man and his progeny. It appears that the diet which archaeology determined was dominated by sedge tubers and tigernuts likely drove this distinctly larger brain for Nutcracker man and distinguished longevity. No other foods other than roasted starches and hunting and fishing supplied similar brain nourishment: starches, sugar, and omega-3.

Tiger nuts still grow just like they did over 2 million years ago and are still enjoyed by Homo sapiens the world over. This isn't a food that just "sticks to your ribs." It is quite possibly is your ribs (and your liver, kidneys, and brain). Along with the development of our brain, tiger nuts surely had a huge part in the development of our "second brain," the trillions of neurons located in and around our digestive tract that provide two-way communication between our guts and brains. As our brain increased in size from 400cc to 1500cc, it is not much of a stretch to assume that our brain-gut connection tripled in importance during this same time. [8]

The modern human brain and gut are deep sinks for energy use, just like your air conditioner and outrageously high energy bills during blistering summers. Each organ requires massive amounts (15-25%) of resting energy to feed these two organs. Cnsidering the relative weight of each organ compared to the rest of the body, this is quite enormous. The brain, gut and microbiota contribute only a tiny fraction of the total body weight (averages for 65 kg person): [9] [10]

  • brain (1.4 kg): 2.2%
  • gut (1.1 kg): 1.7%
  • gut microbiota (2kg): 3% (not use energy but produces 10% via fermentation)

Energetically speaking, these are some of our most expensive organs, and these changes evolved during the long reign of Nutcracker man and immediately afterwards. Compared to other mammals, modern human brains burn up large sections of bandwidth when it comes to the distribution of background energy production from food digestion and burning body fat. For adult humans, as much 20-25% are allocated for brain metabolism, and this is ~3-fold more than primates (7-9%) and ~9-fold more than non-primate mammals (3%). [11]

These differences brought about the genesis of a new animal that the world had never seen.

Compared with primates, Nutcracker man’s ancestors and Homo lost:

  • large muscle mass
  • low dietary quality
  • large vegan/frugivore colon for fermentation of massive volumes of low quality plant fiber (leaves, flowers, gums, bark, fruits, seeds)
  • great apes: 87-100% plant material high in insoluble cellulose
  • gut microbiota: tree-, fruit- and leaf-sourced probiotics (above ground)
  • 50/50 energy extraction from small v. large intestine (herbivore)
  • small brains and small 2nd brains in the gut

Instead, they evolved organs which were new and unique in the animal kingdom:

  • less muscle mass
  • higher dietary quality (tiger nuts, meat, seafood, omega-3 fats, minerals)
  • dramatically smaller colon for fermentation of starchy plant fiber and less cellulose (oligosaccharide, resistant starch and plant fiber from broader array of nuts, tubers, roots, leaves, stalks)
  • return to carnivorous small intestines of our jurassic predecessors [12] [13] (shrunk, but relative size to total gut volume expanded > 2-fold compared to primates [14] [15] [16]) and greater dependence on nutrient dense food: starches, high-butyrate fermenting RS2, insoluble RS3-fiber, fats, meat, seafood, and low-moderate insoluble cellulose
  • hunter-gatherer/pastoralists: 10-70%; agriculturist: 80-95% plant material [17]
  • gut microbiota changes: root and soil-sourced probiotics (below ground)
  • 90/10 energy extraction from small v. large intestine (carnivore/omnivore) [18]
  • change in gut bugs and their preferred fuel (complex carbohydrates, RS)
  • 3-fold bigger brains and bigger 2nd brains in the gut
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Source: MILTON 1999, nutritional characteristics of wild primate diets

Emerging approximately 1.8 to 1.9 mya, Homo erectus shared the paleo landscape with Nutcracker man during his last 400,000 years. During the overlap, many commonalities including omega-3 and starches (tiger and sedge nuts) likely forged parallel changes in bigger brains and bellies for both groups. [19] [20] Sustained and stable sources of more and more carbohydrates and special fiber (resistant starches) for both intellect and intestines might have provided the first extraordinary catalysts for evolutionary jumps toward humanity. Whether Nutcracker man knew that or not, sedge and tigernuts cemented our bright futures as he dug up those muddy jewels. Ultimately, the hominin that won was the one who learned to hunt and char their tigernuts-n-tubers.

The demise of Nutcracker Man is a Pleistocene mystery. [21] It’s possible he doomed his bright future by over relying on too narrow a niche of termites and raw tubers—failing to broaden to other roots and shoots, to diversify to scavenging and hunting meat or seafood like his replacements did [22] [23] or to learn culinary skills like firing up the BBQ.

Though rich in vitamin C, sedge nuts lose this vitamin with time and storage. We and our anthropoid primate relatives do not make vitamin C, and neither do our gut bugs. Without regular intake, reserves dwindle within 20 days. Blood vessels leak, immunity weakens and later, death ensues. Vitamin C requirements for Australopithecine were probably not that different from that of modern humans. [24] A large supply of fresh tiger nuts (1-1.5 kg) would’ve easily supplied this. However, as immense bogs, lakes, and peatlands dried up over time, so did their perpetual supply of sedge and tiger nuts. Additionally, extensive storage in the ground for months over months would have subjected stored vitamin C to degradation. Nutcracker Man saw his final act approximately 1.4 mya, just as arid savannahs and grasslands spread across the landscape. It may have been “curtains” for Nutcracker Man, but the gut bugs were to be the main attraction anyway, along with the more modern, evolved hosts they would inhabit.

Our Homo forerunners, however, may have successfully averted scurvy and death by finding mixed nourishment that not only provided iron and fat, but vitamin C as well. [25] With the scavenging of meat, marrow, brain and organs from herbivores, Homo may have taken the opportunity to fill the nutritional chasm that a big brain and sedge-heavy diet created—critical deficiencies of omega-3, iron, iodine, zinc, vitamin C, A and B12. [26] H. erectus may have been the first to use fire to cook underground tubers, and thus so inadvertently added new calories and brain-needed complex carbohydrates. The evidence fails to reveal that Nutcracker man fired up the grill for his tigernuts or other food.

It’s enlightening to consider that just when a food came along that fed our intestinal microbes at the same time it fed the human host in a high density fashion—unlike leaves and the like—the greatest leap in human evolution took place. Soon, early humans were fishing, hunting, and cooking. No longer was evolution measured in millions of years, but thousands. For the last part of our evolution into modern man, several species of hominin appeared at the same time, all eating the same plants—but only Homo had the wherewithal and savvy to begin cooking these foods, extracting even more nutrition for himself and his intestinal microbes.

The unrelenting ice ages, microbe-wrapped tiger nuts, and unlocked fuel from cooked food gave birth to the greatest superorganism to ever walk the Earth. No longer were our ancestors fueling puny brains with fruit and leaf fallback foods. Tiger nuts and cooked tubers got humankind out of Africa, and it only took two million years. [27]
[1] Lee-Thorp, J. "From the Cover: Isotopic evidence for an early shift to C4 resources ..." 2012. <>
[2] O'Connell, James F et al. "Male strategies and Plio-Pleistocene archaeology." Journal of Human Evolution 43.6 (2002): 831-872.
[3] Sherwood, CC. "A natural history of the human mind: tracing evolutionary changes in ..." 2008. <>
[4] "Full text of "Physical Interactions of Humans with Primates ..." 2013. 5 Feb. 2014 <>
[5] Grant, PR. "Darwin's finches: population variation and natural selection." 1976. <>
[6] Richards, MP. "A brief review of the archaeological evidence for Palaeolithic and Neolithic subsistence." European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 56.12 (2002): 16 p following 1262-16 p following 1262.
[7] Montmayeur, Jean-Pierre et al. "Evolutionary Perspectives on Fat Ingestion and Metabolism in Humans." (2010).
[8] Henneberg, M. "Evolution of the human brain: is bigger better?." 1998. <>
[9] Aiello, LC. "Brains and guts in human evolution: The Expensive Tissue ..." 1997. <>
[10] Aiello, Leslie C, and Peter Wheeler. "The expensive tissue hypothesis." Current anthropology 36.2 (1995): 199-221.
[11] "Guts and Brains: An Integrative Approach to the Hominin Record." 8 Jun. 2014 [page 32] <>
[12] Ley, Ruth E et al. "Evolution of mammals and their gut microbes." Science 320.5883 (2008): 1647-1651.
[13] Montmayeur, Jean-Pierre et al. "Evolutionary Perspectives on Fat Ingestion and Metabolism in Humans." (2010).
[14] Milton, Katharine. "Nutritional characteristics of wild primate foods: do the diets of our closest living relatives have lessons for us?." Nutrition 15.6 (1999): 488-498.
[15] Milton, Katharine. "Primate diets and gut morphology: implications for hominid evolution." Food and evolution: toward a theory of human food habits (1987): 93-115.
[16] Milton, Katharine. "The critical role played by animal source foods in human (Homo) evolution." The Journal of nutrition 133.11 (2003): 3886S-3892S.
[17] Leonard, William R. "Dietary change was a driving force in human evolution." Scientific American 288 (2002): 63-71.
[18] McNeil, NI. "The contribution of the large intestine to energy supplies in man." The American journal of clinical nutrition 39.2 (1984): 338-342.
[19] Perry, George H et al. "Diet and the evolution of human amylase gene copy number variation." Nature genetics 39.10 (2007): 1256-1260.
[20] Snodgrass, J Josh, William R Leonard, and Marcia L Robertson. "The energetics of encephalization in early hominids." The evolution of hominin diets (2009): 15-29.
[21] Lee-Thorp, Julia. "The demise of “Nutcracker Man”." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108.23 (2011): 9319-9320.
[22] Leonard, William R, J Josh Snodgrass, and Marcia L Robertson. "Effects of brain evolution on human nutrition and metabolism." Annu. Rev. Nutr. 27 (2007): 311-327.
[23] Sponheimer, Matt et al. "Hominins, sedges, and termites: new carbon isotope data from the Sterkfontein valley and Kruger National Park." Journal of Human Evolution 48.3 (2005): 301-312.
[24] "Different Forms of Vitamin C - Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State ..." 2003. 13 Feb. 2014 <>
[25] van der Merwe, Nikolaas J, Fidelis T Masao, and Marion K Bamford. "Isotopic evidence for contrasting diets of early hominins Homo habilis and Australopithecus boisei of Tanzania." South African Journal of Science 104.3-4 (2008): 153-155.
[26] Milton, Katharine. "The critical role played by animal source foods in human (Homo) evolution." The Journal of nutrition 133.11 (2003): 3886S-3892S.
[27] Perry, George H et al. "Diet and the evolution of human amylase gene copy number variation." Nature genetics 39.10 (2007): 1256-1260.


OK, did you get all of that? I think it was excellent thinking and analysis on the part of Grace Liu.

Unfortunately, it's now more important for her to act stupid, wave hands, lie her ass off, and harm people.

Overlooked: Fasting For Gut Microbiome Health

Just a kind of quick one here Sunday morning. Haven't been that motivated to blog lately and plus, I'm all excited about finally doing this auto transformation I previously blogged about: Zombie Apocalypse X5.

Screen Shot 2015 01 25 at 9 04 42 AM

So, to the left is what it looked like when I dropped it off with Tommy at California Wheels yesterday (then footed it the 7 miles home). It's getting a 2" lift and similar steel wheels and tires...along with wheel adapters/spacers to bring them out about 1.5". In all, wheel/tire "height" goes from 27" - 31". Later, I'll do a wrap, probably either matte black, or olive drab green—kinda like this.

...Anyway, last week I kinda got to feeling just a bit "overloaded" digestion wise. Just kind of a general bla. Y'know, with all this talk of the gut biome we do, all the starch and fibers supplementally, the's always in the context of 'what foods, sups, etc. do I eat or avoid in order to...' when one option is: nothing at all.

It's called fasting, or intermittent fasting ("IF"). I used to blog about it quite a bit going way back but got out of the habit of doing it, as well as blogging about it. That changed last week when, spur of the moment, I just ended up not eating from about noon on Tuesday to late afternoon Wednesday—about 28 hours water only. It was remarkably easy. The cool thing? Have felt really good since in all the right areas: great sleep, digestion, TMI. Plus, just a really nice feeling stomach wise, like an enormous calm.

It got me to thinking. I'm really tired of all the bla bla about SIBO (99.9% self diagnosed—oh, I burped, or got a little bout of heartburn: I've got SIBO!). Or, perhaps you've got bullshit in your brain is what you've got.

First of all, you're always going to have gut bugs in your small intestine. Second of all, if you eat chronically; that is, never give your gastrointestinal tract a break ever for more than a few hours, then the bugs in your small intestine are likely going to multiply and begin causing bouts of problems.

And sure, you can go down endless rabbit holes trying to "weed," eradicate certain things, go on weird ass diets with an ever growing lists of things you can't eat. But have you tried a different approach, a natural cleansing one? You don't eat green smoothies to "cleanse." You eat nothing for a day or two, and let those trillions of critters engage in a little survival of the fittest. Or, think of it as a war of attrition where even though all men present get starved, if you're more or less normal, you'd expect the bad guys to have their populations reduced to nothing before the more numerous good guys bit the dust entirely.

Or, perhaps you have good guys that are on the verge of being too numerous. Ought to fix that as well, for a better overall "core" microbiome.

OK, gotta run. You can connect dots from here.