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Chapter 6
The Owner’s Manual

At the beginning of this book, we painted a picture of our naturally adapted lifestyle. We saw how our ancient environment conditioned our bodies— and our very natures—for life on the savannas of east Africa. We called this lifestyle the “Savanna Model” and outlined how our ancient ancestors fed themselves for thousands of generations. This outline gives us the key to how we should be feeding ourselves today.

 It’s as if our bodies are an incredibly complex machine for which we have lost the operating instructions or “Owner’s Manual.” We can visualize the Owner’s Manual as an ancient parchment that generations of scribes have overwritten many times. By carefully clearing away the more recent layers, we can rediscover the original scripture. The purpose of subsequent chapters was to explore these newer layers and find out how they came to be there. By this means, we reveal the underlying message.

 In chapter 2, we saw how the naturally adapted feeding pattern changed dramatically with the farming revolution 11,000 years ago. Governments intervene to regulate our food supply with the laudable intention of keeping it “fit” for “human consumption,” but they’ve only had partial success. Governments also took it upon themselves to advise us how and what to eat, but much of this advice is flawed. In chapter 3, using our own, redefined food groups as a framework, we looked at the history of our current food supply. This examination highlighted just how far we have distanced ourselves from our ancestral origins and the consequences of this departure. In chapters 4 and 5, we looked at how other populations (Eskimos, Japanese, Cretans) around the world fare with their different diets. We put the microscope on how our bodies and biochemistry operate. By seeing what works well—and what works badly—we get strong pointers to the ideal feeding patterns for the human organism.

 We have now done enough to clear away all the overwritten layers of our Owner’s Manual. In this chapter, we show how the original scripture is revealed.

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There is no way that we can go back to eating the identical foods of our ancient ancestors or even those of today’s San Bushmen. We are totally dependent on the modern supply chain that brings us foods from near and far, most of it farmed. The species of plant food and animal matter are quite different too: we are not going to find caterpillars, mongongo nuts, or grewia berries in the supermarket any time soon! The way forward is to define the essential, fundamental characteristics of the Savanna Model eating pattern and then apply them in the modern world. When we put together all that we know—from foragers and foraging theory; from what goes wrong when we don’t fuel our bodies correctly; from what we know about our biochemistry; from information gleaned from population studies and clinical studies—we can identify basic characteristics of the ideal human feeding pattern, for eating the way nature intended.

 Blood Sugar Control  
We saw that the San have a diet that is rich in plant food, yet there are no starches and very little sugar. Their digging sticks produced plenty of tubers but very few of them are starchy. Consequently, the San insulin response is slow. Our closest cousins in the animal kingdom, the chimpanzee and the gorilla, have similar diets. Starches and sugars badly disturb our blood sugar control. This in turn disrupts our biochemistry, leading to numerous diseases and eventually death. We come to the inescapable conclusion that nature designed the human frame for what we call a low-glycemic diet: that is, one that does not produce abnormal blood sugar spikes. The Western diet is the opposite—it produces high blood sugar surges. Abnormally high (and harmful) levels of insulin are the major consequence of high blood sugar levels. However, other factors too can aggravate high insulin levels, notably foods that are “high insulinemic” (see chapter 4). Owner’s Manual: Focus on low glycemic, low insulinemic foods.

 Acid-Alkali Balance  
The San ate a diet that was roughly 75% plant food, which is alkali-forming, and 25% animal matter, which is acid-forming. They ate no grains or dairy products, which are both acid-forming. The net result is a diet that creates a neutral state in the blood between acidity and alkalinity. This is the ideal state for human biochemistry to function properly. Unfortunately, the average Western diet is strongly acidic.

 Owner’s Manual: Keep protein consumption modest (25% by weight) and keep non-starchy plant food and fruit consumption high (75% by weight).

 High Volume, High-Fiber, Low-Density Foods
Our evolutionary past designed our digestive systems to have high volumes of plant food passing through them. These non-starchy plant foods were, by

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nature, low density: that is, they had few calories for their volume. A lettuce leaf, for example, is 95% water (the remaining 5% is a wonderful cornucopia of vital nutrients). In addition, plant food is rich in soluble plant fiber, the sort that our colons are designed to work with. The typical Western diet is the opposite: energy dense and low in fiber.

 Owner’s Manual: Consume high volumes of non-starchy plant foods and fruits.

 Low Sodium to High Potassium Ratio
We saw that salt, until very recent times, was a scarce commodity. In our ancestral homeland, it was unknown. Humans and other creatures only absorbed sodium from what was innate to the food they were eating. For example, uncooked broccoli contains, quite naturally, 27 milligrams of sodium per 100 grams. Similarly, it contains 325 milligrams of potassium per 100 grams. This ratio (about 1 to 12) of sodium to potassium is of fundamental importance for our body cells to function properly. Today, we have reversed this ratio to about 6 sodium to 1 potassium.

 Owner’s Manual: Avoid added salt in cooking, in processed foods, and at the table.

 Healthy Fatty Acid Profile
All the evidence we have seen indicates that the human organism should not be eating much fat on a regular basis. A rough guideline suggests that maximum intake should not exceed 10% of calories from all sources. However, the little fat that we do eat should be of specific kinds. We looked into the vital role that the various fatty acids play in manipulating our biochemistry. There are 25 different fatty acids and most play no significant part in human nutrition. However, a handful that should not be there create havoc with the body’s workings, and some that we desperately need are absent. We can summarize the position quite simply: the only fatty acids that we need to be consuming are omega-3 oils and omega-6 oils. Furthermore, ideally, they should be in the ratio of 1 to 1.

 Nevertheless, we need to note one further phenomenon. Depending on what creature or plant they come from, some particular fatty acids are readily absorbed by the body, and they are said to be “bioavailable.” There are other foods that contain unsafe fatty acids, but these are not bioavailable. We will make use of this knowledge when deciding what foods are safe and which are harmful. This can produce surprising results, sometimes contrary to what a simplistic analysis of their fatty acid composition might indicate.

 Owner’s Manual: Eat no more than 10% of calories as fat/oil. Focus on consumption of bioavailable omega-3 fatty acids, reduce consumption of bioavailable omega-6 fatty acids, and avoid foods with bioavailable “bad” fatty acids.

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High Micronutrient Content  
When we talk about micronutrients, we include not only all the familiar vitamins and minerals but also the thousands of “background” micronutrients. These are found predominantly in non-starchy plant food. We realize that many diseases, vague ills, and premature aging are symptoms of micronutrient deficiency. Today, micronutrient-poor starchy plant foods such as grains, rice, and potatoes have crowded out micronutrient-rich non-starchy plant foods. We saw how, in the Savanna Model, our ancient food supply contained both high concentrations and high volumes of micronutrients. This is the situation we need to return to today.

 Owner’s Manual: Consume non-starchy plant food and conforming fruits.

Low Plant Poison (Antinutrient) Levels
Earlier, we revealed that many of our commonly consumed foods contain sub lethal doses of plant poisons or antinutrients. Our ancestral diet did not contain such foods and our bodies do not know how to deal with them. We will all find better vitality and health when we eliminate such foods from our diets. Owner’s Manual: Avoid grains, legumes, and potatoes, which contain antinutrients.

Low Antigen Content
Many of our commonly consumed foods contain harmful doses of immune system saboteurs or antigens. Our ancestral diet did not contain such foods—and our bodies do not know how to deal with them. We need to eliminate these foods from our diet.

 Owner’s Manual: Avoid dairy and grains, which contain antigens.

Feel Hungry Regularly
The San, Japanese, Okinawans, and Cretans were all skinny people. They ate sparingly and they often felt hungry, yet these peoples were all remarkable for their good health and longevity. The slimmer you are (without being emaciated), the longer you are likely to live and the less disease you will suffer. All the evidence points to this factor as being an essential characteristic of a healthy, naturally adapted lifestyle.

 However, even if we cannot be skinny, there is a halfway house we should try to achieve to make sure that the blood sugar control machinery functions smoothly. Insulin is the sugar “locking up” hormone and its counterpart, glucagon, is the sugar “unlocking” hormone. Glucagon instructs fat cells to convert fat into sugar and release it into the bloodstream. Lack of use often atrophies this vital function of our biochemistry. Blood sugar levels have to be low and maintained low for the glucagon mechanism to swing into action. That means feeling hungry for about 30 minutes on a regular basis. Older people will remember that this happened several

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times a day before a main meal. Today, if people feel slightly hungry, there is always a sugar-boosting snack within easy reach.

 Owner’s Manual: Feel hungry for 30 minutes two or three times a day.

Here, we pull together all the arguments, evidence, and reasonings to draw up the broad outlines of the feeding pattern that is ideal for the human species. These, then, are the contents of the Owner’s Manual.

 Basic Specifications
Nature designed the human feeding pattern to:
1. Be low glycemic
2. Be low insulinemic
3. Have acid/alkali ratio in balance
4. Have a high volume of high-fiber, low-density foods
5. Sustain a low sodium (salt) to high potassium ratio
6. Sustain a healthy fatty acid profile
7. Provide high micronutrient content
8. Provide a low plant poison (antinutrient) level
9. Have a low antigen content
10. Produce hunger some of the time

Overview of Implementation
When we put together these criteria with what we know about certain groups of foods, these are the broad outlines for implementation of the Savanna Model.

 • Consume a weight of conforming colored plant food that is about three times the weight of conforming protein-rich food. This means consume an abundance of non-starchy, colored plant foods and low-glycemic fruits, while consuming protein-rich foods modestly.

 • Eliminate salt added at the table and in processing or cooking.

 • Consume fats and oils generally sparingly. In addition, eliminate saturated fats in non-conforming foods, drastically curtail omega-6 oils, and boost consumption of omega-3 oils.

 • Eliminate grains in all their forms.

 • Eliminate potato in all its forms.

 • Eliminate dairy products in all their forms.

 • Eliminate processed foods.

 • Feel hungry for at least 30 minutes two or three times a day.

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 Next, we will discover which are the “conforming” plant foods and “conforming” protein-rich foods that are readily available to us today. We will answer the challenge of how to adapt the Savanna Model to the food supply in the modern world. The choices are not always as obvious as we might think.

For this information to be useful, we need to relate it to our everyday lives. Our Pleistocene ancestors had incredible jungle survival skills and we have to develop the same level of skill for survival in the supermarket jungle. There is not a single food that we eat today that our forager forebears would have recognized in the African savanna. So, for example, even when we talk in broad terms about eating fruits, our ancestors’ fruits were different species, with somewhat different nutrient profiles, from our apples, oranges, and pears today. That is why we have to be well-informed about everything we eat and why we go into some detail to explain how to make wise food choices.

 We will categorize foods according to how closely they conform to the Savanna Model. The classification is based on a traffic light system: Green means “Go,” Amber (yellow) means “Caution,” and Red means “Stop.” We introduce finer gradations, such as “Green-Amber,” which means “Go, but proceed with caution.” Green-Green means “Go-Go!”—these are superfoods which are particularly healthful.

 • Green-Green: Perfect—in perfect conformity with the Savanna Model.

 • Green: Conforming—in close conformity with the Savanna Model.

 • Green-Amber: Comfort Zone—within the margin of tolerance for everyday consumption by a healthy person.

 • Amber: Slight Lapse—acceptable for a healthy person to consume on a regular basis, provided the rest of the diet is conforming.

 • Amber-Red: Modest Lapse—acceptable for a healthy person to consume on an occasional basis, provided the rest of the eating pattern is conforming.

 • Red: Bad Lapse—not acceptable; avoid.

This is the great shock to conventional nutritional ideas: grains are not the best thing since sliced bread! Grains are not a natural human food and they do nasty things to our bodies. They cause the human organism a number of problems, from unhealthy blood-sugar spikes to plant toxins (antinutrients) and immune system depressors (antigens). They are poor in nutrients and crowd out more nutritious foods.

 Grains include wheat, rice, rye, barley, and oats, as well as the “ethnic” grains such as amaranth and quinoa, and “authentic” grains such as einkorn

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 and emmer wheat. We also include the products made from grains: bread, spaghetti, pizza, croissants, cookies, and so on.

 In making this blanket condemnation, we hear protests in the background. What about whole grains? What about oats, which the manufacturers sell as lowering cholesterol? The reality is that marketing forces have distorted the true perspective. Whole grains may contain useful nutrients, such as wheat germ, but they are just as glycemic, the bran contains even more antinutrients and antigens, and their content of harsh insoluble fiber is not what the intestines need. Oats, of all the grains, contain rather more soluble fiber than average, a quality that manufacturers promote as cholesterol-reducing and therefore heart healthy. This, nevertheless, is not a valid argument: they are still glycemic, contain antinutrients and antigens, and are deficient in micronutrients. Oats are no alternative to proper plant food like lettuce and avocado.

 The human diet is far better off without any cereals and their products. However, not all grains have all the same drawbacks and the way they are prepared modifies, for better or for worse, these drawbacks. The criteria used to categorize the Grains Group are: their effect on blood sugar surges, their antinutrient content, their gluten content, and their allergen content. They are all classified as “Red” in some degree. The purist will not have them in the house.


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barley, pearl
pumpkin seed
sesame seed


barley, cracked
bulgur wheat
corn (maize)
corn on the cob
oat bran
rice, brown
rice, instant
rice, white
sweet corn (mature)

Speciality Grains
emmer wheat
wild rice (Zizania aquatica)


Tahini (sesame seed butter)


black bread

Breakfast Cereals
All Bran

spaghetti (whole wheat)


all, except col.2, including:
bread, rye
bread, wheat
bread, white
bread, whole wheat
bread, buckwheat
bun, hamburger
bun, hot dog
buns, generally
crackers, water
crackers, wheat
Danish pastry
pastry, generally
pizza, all kinds

Breakfast Cereals
all, except col. 2, including:
bran cereals
bran flakes
bran, oat
corn flakes
Rice Krispies
Shredded Wheat

corn starch
pie crust
rice cakes
rice pudding

all except col. 2, including:
spaghetti (white)


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 Starchy Plant Foods
Starchy plant foods are high glycemic (they cause unhealthy blood sugar surges), and for this reason alone you should avoid them. In addition, the most important of these foods in the Western diet, potatoes, are exceptionally bad for you: they are not only highly glycemic, they are highly insulinemic and also contain “background” poisons. Other starchy plants are parsnip and rutabaga, and these are best left out of the diet too.

 There are some vegetables that are sugary, notably carrots and beets (beetroot). For this reason, they were included with the starchy vegetables. The glycemic index of carrots can vary considerably, but if they are raw and mature, they have only a modest impact on blood sugar levels. This is where we deploy the concept of glycemic load. Carrots have a low calorie density, so you have to eat quite a lot before triggering a glycemic reaction. Therefore, because we want to take in their good micronutrients and fibers, we allow the carrot a small place in our diet. Be wary, though, of carrot juice: it is more glycemic and, because it is possible to quaff down a tumblerful in one go, it is easy to overdose with carrot sugar. Beets are quite glycemic, but since they are rich in certain antioxidants, they just creep into the “Amber” category.




beets, red (beetroot)
carrot, cooked
yam (Dioscorea)

sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas)
rutabaga (swede)

potato, baked
potato, boiled
potato, chips
potato, French fries
potato, instant
potato, mashed

Non-Starchy Plant Foods  
With this group, we finally come in contact with foods that are in conformity with the Savanna Model. Ideally, we would eat these raw. However, if you choose to cook, always employ the gentlest cooking methods.

 Since we are recommending that you consume an abundance of conforming non-starchy, colored plant foods, what plant foods are “conforming”? They are foods that are low glycemic, rich in micronutrients and fiber, and harmless with regard to antinutrients and antigens. Broadly, they include most salad foods, such as lettuce, onions, cucumber, radish, and mushrooms, and they also include colored vegetables, such as broccoli, green beans, bell peppers (sweet peppers), and Brussels sprouts. These are considered “Green-Green,” “Green,” and “Green-Amber.” Under “Green-Green”, we have separated out the vegetables that have the high concentrations of background micronutrients that our ancient ancestors delighted in. You can have unlimited consumption of these foods, and the ideal is up to 2 pounds (900 g) per day.

 Note that we include “baby” sweet corn as a good salad vegetable. Unlike its mature form, the grains in baby corn have not yet formed and it is neither starchy nor glycemic. Tomatoes, because of their mild background antinutrients, only receive qualified approval in the “Green-Amber” category. Chili pepper and curry powder (particularly the “hot” variety) are to be used sparingly if ever at all; they damage the colon and make it leaky. Sauerkraut and other pickles receive a poor rating because of their high salt content. Ketchup has several possible ratings. The best is our own Savanna Model recipe (see our companion cookbook). If not, speciality ketchups are commercially available which use “safer” ingredients: tomatoes, canola oil, and fructose. We also include a meat substitute made from fungus known as “mycoprotein.” The manufacturer, Quorn, makes it available either in the raw state as a


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beet greens
Brussels sprouts
cabbage, red
cabbage, white
Swiss chard
turnip greens


alfalfa sprouts
bean sprouts
bell pepper
bok choy
egg plant
green beans
Jerusalem artichoke
kohl rabi
green onion
palm heart
sugar snap peas
summer squash
sweet corn, baby
water chestnut
zucchini courgette

All other herbs
vinegar, all kinds
lemon juice

Sauces and Dips

Meat Substitute
mycoprotein (Quorn)



onions, pickled

ketchup, made with fructose and canola

curry, mild

gherkins, low-salt
olives, rinsed

salsa, mild
ketchup, regular

curry, medium

gherkins, salty
olives, salty

salsa, hot

chili pepper
curry, hot




Fruits today have quite different nutritional characteristics to those of our ancestors of the African Pleistocene era. The most troubling difference lies in the sugar content: it is often high and it is often glycemic. Even if they are not glycemic, the fructose content can be at worrisome levels. Some sugars, like fructose, do not raise blood sugar levels, but in large quantities upset other aspects of our biochemistry (see inset below). In other respects, fruits are generally a rich source of valuable micronutrients, so we need to prioritize which fruits to focus on. • Low-Glycemic Fruits. Fruits that are both low glycemic and low sugar are “good” to eat without restriction. Fruits in this category are gooseberry and raspberry. Tomato, which is technically a fruit, is also included. There are other low-glycemic fruits, such as cherries and grapefruit, which nevertheless have a significant content of various sugars. You should go easy on these fruits if your doctor is asking you to restrict your intake of fructose or glucose.

 Fructose. Fructose, although kind to blood sugar levels, is not without dangers. Professor George Bray estimates that as long ago as 1997, the average American was consuming60 grams of fructose per day and rising.192 Researchers find that a die thigh in fructose has drawbacks. By “high in fructose,” they mean a massive intake of 100 grams (20 teaspoons) per day. Many teenagers can get to this level by the consumption of just four 12-ounce cans of cola. At this level of consumption, fructose undermines blood sugar control, provokes diarrhea and bloating, and drives up glucose intolerance, blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and insulin resistance.193 And let us not forget that fructose is empty calories—the more you consume, the more likely you are to get fat.


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 • Borderline Glycemic Fruits. These fruits tend not only to be relatively glycemic, but they also often have a correspondingly high sugar content. It is good to incorporate them into the daily diet, but keep their consumption modest. Examples are apple, pear, orange, and strawberry.

 • High-Glycemic Fruits.  Many fruits, often of tropical origin, are high glycemic. They are not pariahs, but we should not go out of our way to obtain them. If you find a morsel or two in your fruit salad, swallow it down, it won’t poison you. But do not consume these regularly or copiously. Examples are watermelon, pineapple, and ripe banana.

 The fruits classified as “Green” are mostly low-sugar berries; they are often exceptionally good sources of antioxidants too. Cranberries, in the raw state, are extremely nutritious and low in sugar. Unfortunately, they are so astringent as to make the lips pucker up. For this reason, cranberries are nearly always heavily dosed with sugar, either as a jelly or stewed in sugar. This process converts a great fruit into a bad one. Bananas become more sugary as they ripen; the greener you can stand them, the better. FOOD GROUP 4 FRUITS





cranberry, fresh
strawberry, wild

banana, green-tipped
dates, fresh
strawberry, cultivated

apricot, dried
apricot, fresh
banana, ripe
custard apple
grapes, red or white
melon, cantaloupe
melon, horned
persimmon (sharon, kaki)
prickly pear

cranberries, sweetened
dates, dried
figs, dried


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 Dairy Products
Dairy products are a biochemical disaster for the human organism—we do not have the digestive enzymes to assimilate them properly and they contain a range of compounds that bring bad health. Chief among them is lactose (which is highly allergenic), but we can also cite dairy fats (saturated and artery clogging) and dairy proteins (allergenic and cholesterol disrupting). Whether “raw” or processed, from cows or goats, whether turned into yogurt or cheese, dairy products are all classified in various degrees of “Red.”

 Cheese lovers have a slight consolation, as cheese is the least harmful: they have less lactose and, seemingly, their bad fats are not readily absorbed by the body. Cheese can be consumed modestly on the rare occasion. When you commit this offense against the Savanna Model, make sure that it is worth it—that the cheese is a really good one—and savor every nibble slowly, spreading it carefully around the palate. However, no platform of bread or cracker!




cheeses, all kinds

buttermilk ice cream ice cream, low-fat milk, buffalo milk, cow’s, condensed milk, cow’s, evaporated milk, cow’s, full fat milk, cow’s, skimmed milk, goat’s milk, sheep’s whey yogurt, full fat yogurt, reduced fat yogurt, all varieties

 Meat, Poultry, Eggs, and Fish

 Animal matter has formed a moderate part of the human diet for an evolutionarily significant part of human history. As we have seen, the type of animal matter was rather different. Here we make judgments about the animal matter available to us today. The chief criterion is the fatty acid profile—the quantity of fat and the types of fatty acids. In addition, some variety meats (offal) can contain unhealthy amounts of some substances; for example, iron and vitamin A in liver.

 • Farm Meat. Common farm meats, such as beef, pork, and lamb, have become problem foods. The difficulty is their high fat content and the harmful nature of the fat. Stockbreeders are beginning to work on improving the nutritional nature of their herds, but for now we are better off avoiding these meats and everything that is made from them. In contrast, an uncommon farm animal, the goat, is acceptable.

 • Wild Game. In most instances, meat from various wild creatures has a conforming fatty acid profile. Truly wild game that feeds off what it finds in its natural 

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habitat is an approved animal matter and is fine to consume in moderation. It will be low-fat and should have a good fatty acid profile. This includes wild boar, moose, caribou, and bison.

 • Variety Meats (Offal). Our Pleistocene ancestors ate all parts of a slain animal, but this did not happen all that often. Many of the internal organs have wildly varying nutrient composition, depending on a number of factors: what the animal ate recently, how it was raised, and even its state of health. It is difficult, therefore, to generalize about variety meats. They are usually rich in micronutrients not found in such high concentrations in other sources. Variety meats are normally all right to consume in moderate quantities on an occasional basis.

 Kidney, tripe, and liver are low-fat meats, but liver in particular is heavily loaded with vitamin A and arachidonic acid, both of which are harmful in high doses; you should consume it with caution. Tongue, heart, and brains are high fat meats, with much of the fat saturated, and brains are particularly rich in cholesterol; eat these only occasionally.

 Not many Americans eat variety meats as such, but they are still consuming them without even realizing it. That is because meatpackers disguise them as salami, hot dogs, luncheon meats, and sausage. These products should definitely be avoided because they are high fat (most of it unhealthy), salty, and often doctored with sulfur compounds to preserve them.

 • Exotic Animal Matter. This category includes such creatures as alligator, ostrich, emu, kangaroo, frogs’ legs, and escargots (snails). The last two have a long, honorable tradition in France and they all correspond very well to the kind of animal matter that our Pleistocene ancestors ate all the time. Other exotic foods are making their appearance, particularly bush tucker from Australia, which corresponds to the food traditionally eaten by the Australian Aboriginal. My wife and I have sat down with aborigines in Central Australia to eat one of their delicacies, witchety grub. Lightly roasted in the embers of a fire, the 3-inch-long caterpillar tastes rather like sweet corn.

 • Poultry (Farm and Wild). The low-fat parts of farm fowl, such as skinless chicken and turkey breast, are good in modest quantities. You should reduce consumption of other parts as much as possible. All parts of duck and goose are fine. Wild birds such as pheasant, grouse, and pigeon are fully conforming.

 • Eggs. Our Pleistocene forebears consumed all kinds of eggs: ostrich, bustard, duck, and anything else they could find. Hen’s eggs come close, with a proviso— seek out eggs that are rich in omega-3 oils and it is preferable if they are also free range and organic. Duck, turkey, quail, and goose eggs are good too. Industrially produced eggs are a poor substitute and should not be consumed on a regular basis.

 • Seafood. All seafood is an acceptable component of the Savanna Model feeding 

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pattern. The “oily fish,” rich in omega-3 oils, are best, such as wild salmon, sardines, and mackerel. Other fish and shellfish have an excellent essential fatty acid profile and are also good.







eggs, omega-3

FISH, finfish

FISH, shellfish

MEAT, farmed

MEAT, offal

MEAT, game
boar, wild
deer (venison)

MEAT, exotic
escargots (snails)
frog’s legs

POULTRY, farmed
chicken, breast, skinless
turkey, breast, skinless

duck, wild
goose, wild

FISH, finfish
all other fish including:
roughy, orange
sea bass
sea bream

FISH, shellfish
all shellfish, including:

all other eggs including:
eggs, chicken
eggs, duck
eggs, goose
eggs, quail
eggs, turkey

MEAT, offal

MEAT, farmed

POULTRY, farmed
chicken, buffalo wings
chicken, drumstick
chicken, wings
turkey, drumstick
turkey, wings

MEAT, farmed
beef, all kinds
beef, spare ribs
beef, steaks
lamb, all kinds
lamb, chops
lamb, leg
pork, all kinds
pork, bacon
pork, chops
pork, ham
pork, leg

MEAT, processed
beef burger
cold meats
luncheon meat
meat paste
pate de foie gras


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Legumes are newcomers to the human diet and there are major drawbacks to consuming them: the body is not equipped to handle their plant poisons (antinutrients) and antigens. Only from time to time may you include a moderate portion of legumes in your diet; the purist will avoid them altogether. Examples of legumes are lentils, beans, peas, and peanuts. Peas are a slightly different case: they contain fewer antinutrients, but on the other hand they are starchy and glycemic. In addition, we single out the soybean for special mention because of its false reputation as a miracle food—avoid soy and all its products (tofu, soy protein burgers, tofu-substitute yogurts, and so on).

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hummus (chickpea dip)
noodles, Chinese bean

beans, adzuki
beans, all, including:
beans, baked, canned
beans, fava
beans, baked, low sugar/salt
beans, broad
beans, garbanzo
beans, haricot
beans, kidney
beans, mung
beans, navy
beans, pinto
beans, refried
beans, white
chickpeas (garbanzo)
lentils, green
lentils, red
peanut butter
peas, mushy
pease pudding
soy, all, including:
soy, bean
soy, cheese substitute
soy, meat substitute
soy, milk substitute
soy, protein
soy, tofu
soy, yogurt substitute

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Nuts are a natural food for humans to be consuming. All tree nuts are generally fine. Examples are walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, and filberts. However, chestnuts and coconut do not fit into this tree nut category. Chestnuts are mainly starch and so are included in the starchy vegetable group; coconuts are mainly oil and are included in the fats and oils group. Peanuts are a legume and are included in the previous group.

 Nuts should be raw and fresh. Regrettably, food manufacturers usually roast and salt nuts to improve shelf life and taste. However, this destroys useful nutrients and the salt is an unwelcome burden to the diet. Around half the weight of a nut is oil, much of it omega-6 fatty acids. Nuts are therefore calorie dense and tend to upset the omega-3 to omega-6 balance. For these reasons, nuts should be consumed in moderation. Those classified “Green-Green” have a high omega-3 content. We make special mention of walnuts, which have the exceptional property of being rich in omega-3 oil. However, it is essential that the walnuts be fresh, because their omega-3 oil turns rancid very easily and becomes an oxidized fat particularly harmful to cardiovascular health.




flaxseed hempseed walnut

all other nuts including: almond brazil  cashew  filbert (hazelnut, cobnut) macadamia pecan pine  pistachio

Note: All nuts must be fresh, raw and unsalted.

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 Fats and Oils  
In nature, fats and oils do not occur on their own: they are always part of something else. The Bushman could not eat the mongongo oil without eating the nut; he could not eat the animal fat without eating the animal. Fats and oils in their separated state are in a very concentrated form and therefore more potent. That is why they should always be treated with caution. As a rule of thumb, oils that are solid at room temperature are suspect, as they are almost certainly unhealthy, saturated fats. Examples are butter, lard (including bacon fat), and tallow (beef and sheep fat). Artificial saturated fats are equally unhealthy, such as trans fats and hydrogenated fats. They are present in many processed foods and in margarines and spreads. In other words, all fats should be avoided.

 The general injunction is to consume oils sparingly. We should focus on omega-3 oils. A prime example is canola (rapeseed) oil, which is readily available in supermarkets. However, we recommend going for cold-pressed, organic canola oil, if possible. Flaxseed oil has the highest concentrations of omega-3s and is preferred if you can afford it. The oil is fragile and needs to be kept in the refrigerator and consumed within a few weeks. Other options are hempseed oil and walnut oil (make sure it is not made from roasted walnuts). All these omega-3 oils should only be used cold, for example, in a salad dressing. Omega-3 oils do not resist heat very well and the oil oxidizes and becomes toxic. If you need to heat the oil for cooking, then a monounsaturated (and thus inert) oil is best, such as olive oil.

 The human organism also needs a second class of oil, the omega-6s, in a balanced ratio with the omega-3s. The trouble in the modern diet is that omega-6 vegetable oils are in everything and thus overwhelm our omega-3 consumption. We must therefore avoid any unnecessary intake. For this reason, you should strictly avoid knowingly consuming omega-6 oils, such as sunflower oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, and corn oil.

 The criteria we have used in our classification are: omega-3 content; omega-6 to omega-3 ratio; and presence of harmful fatty acids, such as palmitic acid and myristic acid. In all cases, they should be consumed with restraint. We have included mayonnaise and spreads, but it makes a big difference which oils they are made from. Check the labels and reject products that are “Amber-Red.” Watch out for hydrogenated fats in spreads and all kinds of processed foods.

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PLANT OILS Canola (rapeseed) oil flaxseed oil hemp oil walnut oil

 FISH OILS all fish oil, including: cod liver oil herring oil menhaden oil salmon oil sardine oil seal oil whale oil

PLANT OILS almond cream mayonnaise, canola mayonnaise, olive oil olive oil spread, canola spread, olive oil

PLANT OILS cocoa butter coconut cream coconut oil soybean oil

 ANIMAL FATS duck fat goose fat

PLANT OILS corn oil mayonnaise, lite mayonnaise, not “Green” peanut oil safflower oil spread, not “Green” sunflower oil

PLANT OILS hydrogenated oil, ALL margarine palm oil transfats, ALL

 ANIMAL FATS butter cream lard shortening tallow drippings

Sugars and Sweeteners
Sweet-tasting foods were a rarity in our ancestral diet. Consumption of any of these items should be restrained. The various sweetnesses available to us today fall into three main categories: high-glycemic sugars, low-glycemic sugars, and artificial sweeteners. We have seen how most sugars, the high glycemic ones such as table sugar and most confectionary, are harmful for us. They must be ruthlessly removed from the diet. More surprising for many of you is that the “natural” sugars, honey and maple syrup, are to be equally avoided. Some dried fruits have high sugar content and are highly glycemic; for example, dried figs, dried dates, and sultanas. They should also be avoided.  

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A second class of sugars is based on fructose, a naturally occurring, low glycemic sugar. They are not glycemic and are admissible in moderation. Fructose itself is available in powder and liquid form in many supermarkets and in health food stores. It is present to a greater or lesser degree in honey. That is why, depending on which flower the honey comes from, the honey changes classes. The sugar from the agave plant is almost entirely fructose and has a very low glycemic index. In contrast, high-fructose corn syrup is a misnomer: it is as glycemic as table sugar itself. It is easy to overdose even on fructose, so its consumption should be kept moderate.

 What about artificial sweeteners? Researcher William Grant estimates that 150,000 American deaths a year can be attributed to sugar consumption. This is a massive figure and it would be even more if the true causes of all heart attacks, cancers, and other illnesses could be identified. Just imagine the outcry if just one death could be attributed to the use of an artificial sweetener. In a world where we sometimes have to choose the lesser of two evils, substituting an artificial sweetener for sugar, as a first step, is a move in the right direction. From a theoretical point of view, Aspartame, saccharine, and other artificial sweeteners never formed part of the Pleistocene diet. Nevertheless, government authorities around the world have exhaustively tested them. If sugar had been obliged to pass the same regulations as artificial sweeteners, the authorities would have banned sugar as a dangerous substance. The purist will wish, understandably, to eliminate all artificial sweeteners from the diet. However, it is our view that they can form a very useful support when weaning from sugar itself.

 Chocolate which is made with a high percentage of cocoa solids (and therefore little sugar) is low glycemic and contains many useful micronutrients; it can be consumed in restrained quantities. Most other confectionary items are high glycemic and devoid of useful nutrients; they usually contain bad fats and dairy as well—the dreaded “Red” column for them. Watch out for manufactured foods that claim to have “no sugar added.” Often you are being duped: they are sweetened with apple or grape juice concentrate, which are just as bad.

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chocolate, 85% cocoa solids

agave “nectar”

chocolate,75% cocoa solids


acesulfame K

honey, locust flower
honey, yellow box

apple juice concentrate
barley malt
blackstrap molasses
cane sugar
date sugar
fruit sugars
golden syrup
grape juice concentrate
high fructose corn syrup
honey, all, except col. 3
honey, commercial blend
invert sugar
maple syrup
raw sugar
sugar, brown
sugar, Demerara
sugar, icing, frosting
sugar, table
sugar, white


chocolate (all except cols. 1, 2)
energy bars
granola bar
jelly beans
life savers
Mars bar
muesli bars
Nutri-Grain bar
sweets, boiled


 Salt and Sodium  
Salt needs to be ruthlessly eliminated from the diet. By far the biggest source is in processed foods; seemingly innocent foods like cornflakes contain more salt than seawater, for example. The examples are legion in manufactured food, so the best rule of thumb, as ever, is to avoid them altogether.

 Our preoccupation is with the salt-to-potassium ratio. As we have previously described, salt has moved from being absent in the human diet to massively contaminating all aspects of our food supply. We are therefore obliged to adopt a strategy of avoiding all salt, whether incorporated in processed foods or added at the table or in cooking. These measures, together with the high consumption of plant foods (which are rich in potassium), will ensure that an optimum sodium-to-potassium ratio is maintained.  

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Here, we focus on external sources of salt. Not everyone realizes that garlic salt is plain salt with garlic flavoring; regular stock cubes are over 50% salt; soy sauce is just liquid salt fermented with soybeans. The “Amber” column contains some low-salt seasonings and also salt substitute. Salt substitutes are based on potassium chloride rather than sodium chloride. There are dangers in over-consuming potassium chloride too, so although there is little or no sodium in salt substitutes (check the ingredients label), they should only be consumed sparingly.





salt substitute
yeast extract, Marmite
yeast extract, Vegemite
stock cubes, low salt

celery salt
garlic salt
seasoning, Maggi
soy sauce
stock cubes, classic, incl.:
stock cubes, Knorr
stock cubes, Maggi
stock cubes, Oxo

bicarbonate of soda
coarse salt
MSG (monosodium glutamate)
rock salt
salt, table
sea salt

Earlier, we cast doubt on the current preoccupation with guzzling water at every opportunity. The slogan “drink 8 glasses a day” is a highly misleading piece of marketing by the mineral water companies. Other water manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon with so-called special property waters—mineralized, ionized, magnetized, polarized—a whole range of sales gimmicks to gull the public. We now live, quite falsely, in terror of not drinking enough water. Just know that if you follow the Savanna Model to the full, you will be getting 4 pints (64 ounces) of water just from what you eat. The bottom line is that we need only drink when thirsty. By all means, drink bottled water, but water out of the tap is probably just as good.

 Do not forget that tea, herbal teas, and American coffee are valid thirst quenchers.1 Cocoa is fine too, but make it with 100% cocoa powder (not chocolate mix) combined with water or almond milk. If you like, use a “Green-Amber” sweetener.

 The “Amber-Red” and “Red” columns are dominated by high-glycemic drinks, such as beer and colas, and by milk in its various forms. Milk is simply not human food and is harmful to our biochemistry. The milk of almonds (and other nuts) is a great alternative to regular milk, particularly in cookery. Fruit juices, even when freshly made, are glycemic—for this reason they get the “Amber” classification; it is much better to eat the fruit itself. Watch out for tomato juice: choose  

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  brands that are made from pure tomatoes and no salt. Sugar-sweetened carbonated drinks and colas are high glycemic and disrupt bone building. Some alcohol drinks can be tolerated, but do not go out of your way to start consuming them if they are not already part of your diet. Beer is highly glycemic and potentially allergenic. Dry wine is acceptable and particularly red wine is mildly healthful when consumed in moderation. One might be surprised at the moderate classification of spirits like gin and whiskey. Most spirits are all right, especially if diluted in a suitable, low-sugar mixer (for example, whisky and soda, gin and diet tonic). Bear in mind that alcohol is empty calories and it disrupts your body’s ability to burn fat, so you will struggle to lose weight if you consume alcohol.







almond milk
cocoa, unsweetened
tea, black
tea, green
tea, herbal
water, distilled
water, mineral
water, mains potable
water, purified
wine, dry, red

cocoa, artificial sweetener
coffee, Americano
grapefruit juice
sodas, non-cola, diet
tomato juice, unsalted
water, mineral, high sodium
wine, dry, white
wine, dry, champagne
sherry, dry

apple juice, fresh
cider, dry
coffee, espresso
coffee, strong
colas, diet
fruit juices generally
orange juice, fresh
pineapple juice, fresh
sherry, sweet
soy milk substitute
spirits: gin, whiskey etc
tomato juice, salted
wine, dessert
wine, sweet

beer, ale
beer, lager
beer, lite
beer, porter
beer, stout
fruit drinks

chocolate “drinks”
coffee, milk
milk shake
milk, full fat
milk, skimmed
yogurt drink
colas, classic
fruit juices, sweetened
sodas, classic


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A simple rule of thumb is to choose foods from the “Green” classes: “Green- Green,” “Green,” and “Green-Amber.” Of these, Food Group 3 (Vegetables, Non-Starchy) has no restriction on consumption. “Green” classes in the other food groups should be consumed in controlled amounts.

 1. The food to which as a species we are primarily adapted is plant food. Think big when planning volumes of salads and vegetables. Eat a minimum of one large mixed salad per day. Consume up to 24 ounces (900 grams) of salads and colored vegetables per day. Put vegetables at the center of the plate (“Green” classes, Food Group 3).

 2. Prefer raw vegetables to cooked. When cooking, use steaming, blanching, or stir-fry methods.

 3. Eat fruit every day. Consume at least 12 ounces (400 grams) of fruit per day, but spread it out over several eating sessions (“Green” classes, Food Group 4).

 4. The food to which as a species we are secondarily adapted is animal matter. Think modest when planning servings of meat, poultry, eggs, and fish (Food Group 6).

 5. Avoid red or fatty meat and their products (“Red” classes, Food Group 6).

 6. Don’t overeat protein: limit consumption to about 10 ounces per day of protein- rich foods. Concentrate on sources of “good” proteins (“Green” classes, Food Groups 6 and 8).

 7. Avoid dairy products (All classes, Food Group 5).

 8. Be frugal with fats and oils, even the “Green” classes. If cooking at high temperatures, only use olive oil. Replace “Red” classes of fats and oils with “Green” classes such as canola (rapeseed) oil, walnut, hemp, and flax oils (Food Group 9). 9. Avoid the use of salt in cooking and at the table (Food Group 11).

 10. Avoid all manufactured (processed) food. Be wary of anything that comes in a packet, can, jar, bottle, or box. Be wary of anything that has an ingredient label—read the fine print on the label and act on it!

 11. There is no need to count calories with the Savanna Model. You can eat to satiety provided these rules are followed. Your body, now receiving the correct fuel supply, will do the rest.

 12. Feel hungry for at least 30 minutes two or three times a day  

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