When introducing people to the ancestral health model - specifically when issuing the edict to eliminate grains - I frequently get asked how to reconcile avoidance of bread when the Bible makes many references to this food as a source of both physical and spiritual nourishment.
This is a very legitimate and concerning question for many, and there are numerous valid responses, however, in the interest of expediency, I usually limit my response to something along the lines of:
The Bible predates the advent of industrially processed, refined, genetically-modified and chemical-laden grain products. The bread referenced in Biblical times was prepared with ancient methods such as soaking and sprouting, which eliminated many of the toxins present in today's breads.
There is much more to the story than that, and I absolutely LOVE to dig into the details, but most people just need the question answered without all of the minutia. For those that actually DO want a little more of the minutia, I thought I'd spend a little time in this blog post hitting a couple of the highlights.
For starters, yes, grains have been around for a long time. In fact, mass grain consumption and storage was perhaps the main basis upon which human civilization was developed. This occurred around 10,000 BC, kicking off the Agricultural Revolution. The farming techniques developed during this period allowed our ancestors more time to spend on philosophy, the written word, government, and technological advancement, since they no longer had to constantly roam the countryside hunting and gathering food. This period consequently ushered in an unprecedented era of significant deterioration of human health. Prior to that deterioration, the epidemics so commonly seen today (such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, autoimmunity, etc. - the list is too long to ennumerate) were virtually nonexistent.
The ancestral health movement is therefore based on nutritional and lifestyle principles that predate the Agricultural Revolution. In other words, pre-agriculture, our bodies were accustomed to a certain way of life that allowed us to reach the top of the food chain while maintaining excellent health and optimal chances for reproduction WITHOUT having to worry about chronic illness.
So, what went wrong? The answer, in a nutshell, is grains. Grain storage and consumption allowed the benefits of civilization and some modicum of nutrition, but came with significant cost to our health. Human bodies were simply not well adapted to processing grains digestively, nor were we accustomed to a lack of physical activity. These facts are well documented and painfully obvious in modern society.
"Okay, Bret, what does this have to do with religion?"
The point is that human beings were, on the whole, healthy, pre-agriculture. Agriculture allowed us the written word, which begat the Bible. The Bible references bread, which, while not very nutritious in general, was certainly not the unholy health horror that it has become over the last 100+ years. It also appears to me that most of the bread references in the Bible are more spiritually nuanced, as opposed to offering guidance on actual, digestive nutrition.
Some religiously-inclined people also balk at the idea of following an ancestral health template thinking that they would be giving in to Darwin's Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. I'm hoping that the above points serve to abolish that line of thought. After all, whether the human body evolved or was created is irrelevant, given the fact that humans existed prior to the writing of the Bible. I will break that statement down, from both perspectives, further down in this post. First, however, I'd like to point out that many people erroneously equate the term "evolution" with Darwin's Theory. This is a very common mistake that needs to be clarified as follows:
"Evolution," unless otherwise specified, is a general term referring to "a process of slow change and development." Personally, I like to define the term more simply as "Change through time." By this measure, everything evolves. You and I have evolved from fetuses to mature adults. Language has evolved since our ancestors uttered the first grunt. Computer technology has evolved from the first massive, room-occupying electronic calculator to the incredible web-surfing, picture-taking, telephonic supercomputer that we can keep in our pockets. Evolution happens. It is an inarguable fact.
Darwin's Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection is exactly that: a theory. Theories remain theories if they cannot be proven as scientific fact. And since we know of no scientists who can dedicate the next 4.5 billion years to proving Natural Selection, I think we can assume that it will remain a theory until scientifically disproven.
The bottom line, as mentioned above, is that evolution is a fact. And since life on this planet has demonstrably changed over time, we know (at least by my definition) that biological evolution is also an undeniable fact. However, the MEANS by which evolution OCCURS is theoretical, freeing us to assert our own scientific and/or spiritual opinions as to the creation or evolution of life on this planet. But here's the kicker, and the main point of this blog post: None of our theories matter with respect to implementing an ancestral health template, because:
Biblically speaking, humans were created in God's image, and therefore would have "perfect" bodies capable of dealing adequately with existing circumstances, correct? Well, given that God must have created humans prior to the invention of language (so that they could actually write the Word), and prior to the advent of agriculture, it was wehumans who perverted, engineered, and genetically modified our wheat crops from soft wheat to hard spring wheat to the pervasive and ubiquitous, gluten-rich, health- debilitating dwarf wheat variety. Combined with the dramatic decline in physical activity allowed by advancement of technology and civilization as a whole, we humans alone are responsible for the various epidemics plaguing societies across the globe. It is therefore our responsibility to attempt a return to the relative generally optimal health of our pre-agricultural ancestry.
Evolutionarily speaking, the human body evolved to a state of perfection adequate to conquer the globe WITHOUT the burdens of modern maladies, up until the Agricultural Revolution. Post-agriculture, humans have consumed excessive quantities of grains (and other potentially offensive agents), which our digestive tracts were ill evolved to absorb. Since the human digestive tract forms the very foundation of our immune system, the consequences have been dire. Human health declined remarkably, resulting in the epidemics commonly seen today. It is therefore our responsibility to attempt a return to the relative generally optimal health of our pre-agricultural ancestry.
So, regardless of which side of the coin you're on, the conclusion remains the same. Isn't it time you give it a shot? What would be the risk? Certainly eating what you're SUPPOSED to eat, regardless of your spirituality or lack thereof, will not be a problem. You can turn your life around and give yourself the gift of optimal health through very simple lifestyle practices, and we can help you with a head start at McClellan Natural Health!