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Gadsden GAB Featured: Back in Time – Cooking

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The Gadsden GAB is a monthly publication that’s written by BG residents, for BG residents. Every two weeks, we’ll feature an article from the GAB on the Bishop Gadsden website. To read more, you can read the entire February edition here.

Back in Time – Cooking

by Jack Hisley, M.D.

Early humans devoted much of their time to hunting and gathering food.  On average, they walked up to 20 miles each day in search of meat, berries, and nuts.  Unlike all other animals, humans are unable to digest raw foods to the extent that a full 20 percent of the raw foods’ nutritional value is lost.  Because their diets were heavy in raw meat, prehistoric man developed large jaws and teeth by chewing meat seven hours a day.  Although early humans ate constantly, their brains remained small because of the underlying nutritional deficits.

When lightning strikes ignited prairie grass fires, all animals including humans foraged the ash in search of small animals that had perished in the fires.  In fact, cooked animals were a delicacy!  Around 300,000 years ago, Homo erectus and the more advanced Homo sapiens learned how to control fire for warmth and for cooking.  Subsequently, overall nutrition improved as the dependency on raw foods decreased.  Gradually, teeth and jaws became smaller and over time, larger human brains evolved.

Brains are hungry organs.  Although the brain only represents two percent, or three pounds, of our total body weight, it consumes an amazing twenty percent of the daily nutritional intake, which is the same as that of all of our muscles.  Newborn babies use 65 percent of their daily nutrients to feed their rapidly developing brains.  Perhaps that is why they sleep so much!  No matter what our daily activity, the brain uses the same amount of nutritional energy.  This vitally important organ never rests.  However, more thinking doesn’t use more calories – hence thinking is unfortunately not a realistic weight control strategy.

Cooking kills toxins and makes foods easier to chew and digest, thereby making more nutritional energy available for brain growth.  According to Dr. Daniel Lieberman, esteemed Harvard University paleoanthropologist, “You can’t possibly have a larger brain unless you get the energy to fuel it.”  Cooking allowed early primitive humans to transition to modern day humans since primitive humans had to eat constantly simply to survive.  By cooking raw foods, humans gradually were able to devote more and more time for discovery, creativity, and innovation.  Swiss philosopher, writer, and composer Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose political philosophy influenced the progress of the Enlightenment throughout 1700s Europe, summed it up eloquently: “Happiness is a good bank account, a good cook, and good digestion.”        

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