You’ll probably see ‘Green for Life‘ mentioned in more than a couple places on this site. It’s Victoria Boutenko’s updated book on Green Smoothie Nutrition. It’s got a lot of great recipes for green smoothies, but many books have good recipes. This book really is a good read with a lot of information, but what really got my attention was her information on chimpanzees.
It’s not so much that I wanted to learn specifically about chimps, although I do find them amazing. It was her comparison of their diet and the diet that we humans have grown accustomed to. It immediately got my attention because, as I’m sure most people know, humans have nearly identical genes as chimps, 99.4% the same to be exact.
So how is it that their diet is half fruit, with greens (and blossoms) making up 25% to 50% of the remainder? Depending on the season and the resources at hand, pith (stems and fibrous parts of plants) and bark may account for 2-7% of their diet. At times seeds could account for 5% of the diet, and they consume some insects and even small animals in November. The chimps can also go for long periods without consuming the small animals with no noticeable ill effects. That, according to Jane Goodall, the famous chimpanzee researcher that has devoted her life to the study of chimps.
The point Ms. Boutenko makes, and what amazes me is – how can two nearly identical animals, humans and chimps, have diets that could hardly be more dissimilar? I’d be willing to bet that chimps are eating a natural, healthy diet (no fast food), and we have become victims of our own technology, our need for convenience, and of course the need for huge profits in everything. Our very health, and lives are for sale.
Again, as the author mentions too, I was surprised to find out chimpanzees have 50% of their diet made up of greens. What is the bulk of our diet? Yep, cooked carbohydrates and animal foods. The hamburgers, cheese, butter, pasta, white bread, bacon, blah, blah, you know the rest. As alarming as what the bulk of our diet is, the fact that greens are but a tiny fraction of our total diet is insane! Even the typical raw-foodist diet, although they are not consuming the animal products, still only consists of a very small amount of greens compared to the chimp’s diet. Yes, they consume much more in fruits and vegetables over the standard American diet, and add in good portions of seeds, nuts and avocado oils, but the greens are still lacking greatly.
To see these comparisons in pie charts as in Ms. Boutenko’s book really makes the point. It’s no wonder that obesity is heading towards the 50% mark, and rather quickly. It’s a wonder that our life expectancies aren’t at about 40 years and decreasing! I have no medical training, but it would seem logical that if we’re now routinely living into our 80′s and 90′s, that we could, and probably should be living well past 100 years of age.
Notice also that we mentioned greens specifically, and not just vegetables. Chimps almost never eat the root vegetables like we do unless that’s all that’s available. Think about it – when we do consume greens (without juicing) it’s normally in very small quantities, maybe a spinach salad with plenty of dressing, and whatever else we can use to give it flavor and pretty much negate the nutritional value of the small amount of raw greens. Also, we may get a couple leaves of lettuce on a sandwich occasionally, but that just won’t cut it.
So, even if we were to go on a raw food diet, although much better than the standard American diet, we would still be severely lacking in what we probably need most of all – the raw greens. Even when we do eat vegetables they are often root vegetables because they are sweeter. Carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, beets, etc. That, of course, is assuming that the chimpanzee’s diet should be a rough estimate of what we should be eating. Remember the 99.4%? I think it’s safe to assume we should be eating what the chimps eat, or at least a diet that is similar.
I won’t continue any further with my interpretation of Victoria Boutenko’s excellent book, but I do suggest you get a copy. Even if you don’t buy the book, unless you’re already juicing a lot of greens, or eating a bunch of raw greens, I would definitely get a few good green smoothie recipes (like the ones on the homepage of this site) and start to restructure your pie chart. I started with green smoothies when I got Green for Life a couple of months ago.
A jungle full of chimps can’t be wrong.