In the dynamic book, Eat Like The Animals, Professors Stephen Simpson and David Raubenheimer from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre and School of Life and Environmental Sciences, reveal why a baboon, cat and locust know instinctively what to eat for balanced nutrition. And yet we humans are stumped.
What we can learn
Leaders in the field of nutritional ecology and obesity, the authors have studied animal appetites for 20 years and believe we can learn from them. They take readers from the jungle to laboratory and back to our own kitchens to understand how and why we eat, how appetites are fed and regulated, and how, in the end, it all comes down to protein.
Here’s an excerpt
Stella was one of 25 adults who, between them, had an impressive 40 children. Her home was a serene setting on the foothills of Table Mountain, surrounded by vineyards, pine plantations, groves of eucalyptus, stretches of natural fynbos vegetation, and a few suburban settlements.
Caley met Stella
Then Caley, a young anthropology student from New York was doing a thesis on nutrition of a rural population in Uganda, who lived almost entirely off natural foods. Caley’s research also included studying the diet of only one individual for 30 consecutive days. So she chose Stella. What she saw was intriguing.
Stella’s diet was surprisingly diverse: she ate almost 90 different things over 30 days, and on each day, she ate different combinations of natural and processed foods.
What’s more, the ratio Stella had eaten each day – one part protein to five parts fats and carbs combined – was the same combination that had been proven to be nutritionally balanced for a healthy female of Stella’s size.
She was a meticulously precise eater who knew which regimen was best for her and how to attain it.
Stella was a baboon!
What a girl
Stella showed us baboons are experts in nutrition. They, like all of the 40 or so other species studied by the authors, have a toolkit of dedicated appetites, each one for a separate nutrient.
These appetites are a means for the body to tell the animal not only when it needs to eat but also what it needs to eat.
The big question
So why can’t we do the same? The answer lies in our environment. Over the past 50 years industrially manufactured products including ultra-processed foods, like crisps, ice-cream, sweets, biscuits and sugary drinks have become human staples. They contribute more than 50 per cent of calories to the average Aussie diet.
As told in Eat Like The Animals, a healthy diet can be as simple as ensuring your appetites are exposed to real foods, the kind they know how to work with. That way, they will work for rather than against you. As was always intended.
So what to do
The authors recommend surrounding yourself with whole foods – nuts, fruits, vegetables, healthy oils, grains, pulses and moderate amounts of quality meats. Avoid foods that are factory-produced.
We can learn much from Stella and you’ll find a satisfying diet of info for the healthy life you want. So read the book, it will change your life forever!