The advent of agriculture about 10,000 years ago and the subsequent scale-up to mass feeding made possible by the Industrial Revolution solved problems of quantity but not quality. Average life span has increased paralleling these changes, due in large part to agricultural productivity, efficient food distribution and preservation, and the development of public utilities. No, it is not modern medical measures that have extended our lives, but rather farmers, truckers and plumbers.
The primary products coming from farmers’ fields today – grains and legumes – deliver calories but are not natural human nutrition. The argument can effectively be made that it is the conversion of the human diet to one based on grains that has led to the modern epidemic of chronic degenerative diseases and obesity.
Putting Things In The Perspective Of Time
If we draw a line 276 miles long representing the estimated time of life on Earth, the time since the Industrial Revolution – about 250 years ago – would occupy only about one inch on the last itsy bit of the entire line. Put another way, if we scaled down the amount of time of life on Earth to one year, our modern industrial times would be less than 2 seconds. Although we have grown up in the new era of fluorescent lights, plastic surgery and Mars bars, these are totally unique circumstances from a genetic perspective.
The Genetic Perspective
Human genes and those of every other living creature are obviously tuned to the 276 miles, not the last one inch. Think of a fish. Its genes are programmed for life in the water and eating smaller fish. If we attempt to deny this fact by taking it out of the water and trying to feed it lasagna, it will suffer ‘dis-ease’ and die. This extraordinarily simple concept is so obvious it seems elementary for me to even point it out. But few people get it! Instead we eat any sugar-coated thing that will go in our mouths, indeed do try to feed lasagna to farm raised fish and even carnivorous pets, live carpe diem and believe modern medicine can repair whatever goes wrong.
A Simple Truth
It was only after much independent study, experience and thought that I arrived at the following embarrassingly simple truth:
If things are not used according to the way they are designed, they fail and break.
Our parents taught us the proper way to use our toys, we know enough to read instruction manuals, and a test for intelligence we all can pass is to not put a square peg in a round hole. Applying these same simple principles is the master key to health.
What Our Genes Expect
What are human genes programmed for; what does our instruction manual say? Since 276 miles on the time line represent living out in nature and eating natural foods found there, that is the data our genes properly accept… not the new synthetic environment we have created in the last one inch of time. Our genes are encoded with the external world we were designed for. When we are born, our genes fully expect to be dropped onto the forest floor and remain within that context for a lifetime. We should not confuse our origins just because we were born into this new synthetic world.
Today’s modern world is one of unnatural leisure, cocooned living in air-conditioned plastic dwellings, polluted air, little sunshine or exercise, polluted and treated municipal water and fractionated, synthetically fortified, processed foods that are barely recognizable as having ever come from nature. We are, in effect, fish out of water and in a genetic time warp.
Food As An Environment
Food is such an important component of health because, in effect, it is an environment we choose to bathe our tissues with. Should we not select the food environment we are adapted to, the food of the 276 miles minus the one inch?
In a way it is unfortunate that the body is so resilient and will attempt to adapt to whatever food it is provided with. This permits society to fatuously consent to an “adaptation to toxicity,” rather than face problems squarely and address causes. If we got sick to our stomach every time we ate something that was not correct, choices would become easy. But instead of relying on a vomiting reflex – if health is our goal – we must use intelligence and foresight in our day of endless plenty and symptomatic palliation.
The situation we are faced with today is that our bodies dutifully seek homeostasis at high and higher levels of toxicity. This desperate survival mechanism will ultimately be stressed beyond its limits and the result is disease, degeneration and loss of vitality. Unfortunately, consequences like these are temporally so far removed from the etiologic eating regimen, and the body is so forgiving and long-suffering, that few understand the relationship between the effect and the cause.
Using Simple Logic
So how do we sort through all of the competing food ideas to get back on track? I am going to explain here a very simple principle that is so reasonable you need not even look for proofs. Follow along with me and see if you don’t agree.
Consider the following three premises:
Just like a tree is genetically adapted to absorb certain nutrients from soil, and a lion is genetically adapted to thrive on prey, and a deer is genetically adapted to browse on vegetation, so too humans are genetically adapted to certain kinds of food.
The majority of modern processed foods are products of the Agricultural/Industrial Revolution. They occupy a small part of the genetic history of humans and are not natural human foods.
The natural, genetically-adapted-to food for humans must predate them. In other words, how could humans exist before the food they needed to survive existed? We were completely developed biologically prior to agriculture and any method of food processing. That means the archetypal diet humans ate was the perfect diet because that was the diet responsible for the existence and development of the incredibly complex human organism. That diet was the milieu, the environmental nutritional womb, if you will, from which we sprung.
If you consider these three premises, the logical conclusion derived from them is that the best food for humans is what they would be able to eat as it is found in nature. There is no big mystery as to what healthy and natural food is. It is exactly what we could find, eat, digest and survive on if we were abandoned in the wild … without matches. The list is really quite short: fruit, nuts, milk, honey, some vegetables, eggs and prey/carrion.
The Raw Truth
A feature of all natural food is that it is raw – alive if you will. The salubrious importance of this fact is inferred from the Law of Biogenesis that says life can only come from preexisting life. Life begets life. In spite of scientists’ dreams to the contrary, we have never observed life springing from non-life, nor have we ever even been able to create life from non-life in a laboratory. If we eat living foods, we enhance our own life. If we eat dead, devitalized foods we become devitalized and dead. Granted, this will not happen all at once, but as the adaptive reserves are exhausted and equilibrium can no longer be achieved, we become just like the dead food we eat.
This accords with what Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said thousands of years ago: “Foods must be in the condition in which they are found in nature, or at least in a condition as close as possible to that found in nature.” We were not suddenly dropped from outer space onto Earth with matches, microwaves, ovens, extruders, deep fryers, rotisseries and fry pans. We began on the forest floor, not in a line to a fast food counter. Our natural bodies are designed for a natural world, exactly like every other creature.
Now then, every other organism on Earth eats raw foods exactly as they are found in nature. Do you think nature doesn’t notice our decision to change all that? Have humans, among all the millions of species of creatures on Earth, discovered an error in nature and corrected it by cooking their foods? Hardly. If you would like to find a devil that has possessed the modern mind in order to cause disease, it is the Hades of cookery.
Grains Are Not A Natural Human Food
Grains have become a mainstay of modern processed foods. Although they are “natural” (having come from nature), they are not a natural food of humans. We can conclude this because of the unnatural heat needed to unfold their starches to make them digestible, and to neutralize the toxins the seeds contain to inhibit disease and infestation in the field. Grains do not pass the test of matching food to our genetic expectation.
Our immersion in modern cookery and food processing has misled us. We assume that which is usual and ordinary is how things should be. Even the “health food” industry has been hoodwinked. Granola, tofu and whole grain breads and cereals are not natural human foods at all. (Although they are better than the refined white pabulum versions.) They cannot be found in nature in a form that permits their safe consumption in the raw state. No human in the wild could ever survive by attempting to forage and consume them. They are there to grow other plants and as food for other creatures.
Perils Of Heat Processing
Although cooking is commonly justified on the basis that it makes (unnatural) foods digestible and palatable, and that it neutralizes certain toxins and pathogens, little attention is given to its inherent toxic and nutritionally vitiating effects.
Heating foods, particularly in mixtures, can racemize amino acids, carbohydrates and vitamins, oxidize essential fatty acids and cholesterol, form Maillard protein-sugar reaction products, change the physico- chemical state of food, form acrylamides, hydrogenate fatty acids, destroy enzymes, chelate minerals, destroy vitamins…. to only begin the list. The end result is a food matrix that might smell, look and taste great, have an ingredient label and nutritional claims that are beguiling, but be nutritionally imbalanced and disease-producing.
The bottom line is that true food is a complex, biological, holistic matrix, not a mere assemblage of reductionistic parts and pieces that can be treated with impunity. Heat is the enemy of nutrition as can be easily predicted by observing what happens to any other complex thing that is set afire.
It is characteristic of life and real, living food that it is highly ordered and of low entropy. Heat accelerates the inevitable thermodynamic rise in entropy, i.e., the loss of order that characterizes life and differentiates it from non-life. In effect, the healthful information (another version of thermodynamic entropy) in food is lost with the introduction of heat and thus that information cannot transfer to and benefit the eater.
It would be very difficult today to achieve the ideal, raw, natural diet. First of all, we would have trouble with aesthetics and palatability due to the perversion of our palate, and secondly there are few choices available in the market. Nevertheless, understanding the above principles helps us understand how to make eating decisions and compromise the least. It gives us an ideal that we can at least strive toward.
Frustrated with the misdirection of the food industry and their unwillingness to see or apply the above principles, over two decades ago I set about trying to bring this message to thinking people and to create healthy alternatives. Of particular interest over the past several years were breakfast cereals and snack bars. These products are consumed in massive amounts in our on-the-go society and improving them could bring widespread benefit. So, using the principles above, our research facility set about developing a healthy alternative to breakfast cereal and snack bars that would have great taste, incorporate truly natural human foods, help with weight reduction, be nutraceutically enhanced and not be heat processed.
The challenges in creating a packaged, shelf-stable product using these principles are no small matter and include:
Non thermal processing – It is critical that the product not be heated above 118 degrees F, the critical temperature above which food enzymes and other nutrients are destroyed, decreased, or adversely altered. It is little wonder that heat is so widely used in food processing, it melts ingredients to permit forming, dries them to decrease water activity (critical for shelf stability) and sterilizes them.
Special Processing Care – To create a finished product that remains raw but has crunch, good taste and package stability requires specially engineered equipment, hand preparation and individual batching. To protect it on the way to the table, the end product must also be shielded from photo-oxidation and air by drying under vacuum, flushing with an oxygen-free atmosphere and the use of light-barrier packaging.
Truly Natural Human Food Ingredients
The following natural human food and nutraceuticals were selected to create a new non-thermally processed, nutritionally superior “Un-Cereal?”:
Nuts (not legumes) provide a bounty of minerals, vitamins, protein and essential fatty acids. Using raw nuts has required the development of special processing to remove the bitter tannins in the outer layer, thus making them more palatable, digestible and nutritious.
Sprouts have the highest nutrient concentration and are at the most digestible stage in the lifecycle of seeds. In the early stages of development, sprouts lose the anti-nutritional elements that remain in grain seeds that must be neutralized by cooking. In this application they provide a raw vegetable “flour” matrix that permits forming without the unnecessary starch (sugar, once digested and metabolized) carbohydrates of mature cereal seeds.
Colostrum is the primary component of new (first) milk and is arguably one of the most important of all food sources. It is a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, protein, immune-enhancing antibodies and pathogen-fighting iron chelators, lactoferrin and lactoperoxidase.
Flax (and the above nuts) provide omega-3 essential fatty acids, antioxidants and fiber, all universally deficient in the modern diet but abundant in raw natural human foods. Grain predominant heat processed diets shift the ratio of omega-6:omega-3 from the natural 1:1 ratio to 20:1 or even more. Moreover, the application of heat to these fragile oils can convert them to toxic trans configurations and other isomeric and oxidized forms.
Fructooligosaccharides are prebiotics that enhance the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria (probiotics) which in turn promote digestion, detoxification and immunity.
Probiotics are active (live) yogurt-like cultures of beneficial microorganisms that increase immune strength and digestive function as well as synthesize nutrients. By incorporating a variety of species, a spectrum of beneficial actions are capitalized upon.
Enzymes are a part of all natural foods but are very delicate and are destroyed above body temperature. Natural enzymes within raw foods aid in digestion, nutrient absorption and sparing of digestive organ (particularly pancreatic) reserve.
Pollen is the nutritious “egg” of plants and contains hundreds of phytonutrients, the highest antioxidant activity of any fruit or vegetable yet tested, enzymes, phytosterols, amino acids, fatty acids including omega-3, naturally chelated minerals, and a variety of vitamin complexes.
Vitamins and Minerals are in their most complete spectrum, most appropriate ratios and in their most bioavailable form as part of the natural unaltered ingredients themselves.
Antioxidants – Both fat and water soluble vitaminic and herbal oleoresin natural antioxidants are used to help extend shelf-life and to protect fragile nutrients from being lost or turning into dangerous free radicals.
Lipids – Health boosting and weight reducing saturated and unsaturated fatty acids are best consumed as part of raw natural foods. Within the natural “shell” of living foods, lipids are stabilized by a complex host of structural and biochemical features.
Fresh fruits – Are included for the vitamin and antioxidant bounty they provide. Additionally our research has shown that certain fruit pur?es are particularly capable of increasing food stability by inhibiting bacteria that are food degrading and potentially pathogenic. This is a wonderful alternative to the chemical potpourri used in conventional foods for preservation.
Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Pecans, Cashews, Macadamia Nuts, Prebiotics (including Fructooligosaccharides), Flax, Plums, Walnuts, Maple Syrup, Apples, Dairy Concentrate (including Colostrum, Lactoferrin, Lactoperoxidase), Honey, Bee Pollen, Bananas, Blueberries, Strawberries, Enzymes, Oat Sprouts, Probiotic Cultures (including Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus bifidus, Enterococcus faecium), Quinoa Sprouts, Spelt Sprouts, Vanilla, Cinnamon, Coral Calcium, Milk Calcium, Wysong Oxherphol? (Vitamin E Tocopherol Epimers, Fat-soluble Vitamin C, Organic Chelators and Natural Botanical Oleoresins)
The resulting Un-Cereal? (consistency of a chunked granola) and formed snack bar are expensive to produce because of the sheer cost of ingredients and the difficult and time-consuming processing. But a little goes a long way. Even adding a small amount to salads, shakes or conventional breakfast cereals greatly boosts their nutritional density.
The products have also proven to be very satiating. A small bowl or a bar eaten along with some yogurt or fruit, or mixed into a smoothie, will “stick to the ribs” for hours thus serving as a meal substitute and high protein diet food.
We have limited production capacity due to the scale of our R&D facility and the tedious hand batching required. Nevertheless, to the degree we are able to provide the product along with its educational rationale, people can become reacquainted with their “food genes” and perhaps incorporate the healthy principles into other food and lifestyle choices. Clinicians may also find it of benefit to incorporate into diet programs, to help wean patients off carbohydrate dependence or to use as a teaching tool to demonstrate to patients the features they should be looking for when selecting healthy foods.
Further reading and resources of scientific references:
Wysong, R. L. (1976). The Creation-Evolution Controversy. Midland, MI: Inquiry Press.
Wysong, R. L. (1990). Lipid Nutrition: Understanding Fats and Oils in Health and Disease.
Midland, MI: Inquiry Press.
Wysong R. L. (1993). Rationale for Animal Nutrition. Midland, MI: Inquiry Press.
Wysong, R. L. (1993). The Synorgon Diet: How to Achieve Healthy Weight in a World of Excess.
Midland, MI: Inquiry Press.
Wysong, R. L. (2002). The Truth About Pet Foods. Midland, MI: Inquiry Press.