Recently, a group of archaeologists in Spain discovered a million-year-old set of human teeth. In the dental calculus found on the teeth, they uncovered remnants of what these “cavemen” ate. Scientists were able to determine that the owner of these specific chompers had been subsisting on meat, mushrooms, insects, and plants. It should not go unnoticed that there were 2-3 different types of plant starches represented in the diet. Presumably this starch came from eating the seeds of different types of grasses or tubers. While we like to think of the ‘Paleo’ diet as being very meat-centric, as noted by the authors of the paper:
Finding evidence for the use of plants during the Lower Palaeolithic is very challenging and the role of plants in these early periods has consequently been largely overlooked. However, humans cannot survive without eating plants (Hardy et al. 2015b). Our evidence for the consumption of at least two different starchy plants, in addition to the direct evidence for consumption of meat and use of plant-based raw materials, suggests that this very early European hominin population had a detailed understanding of its surroundings and a broad diet.
The diet of our ancient uncle was likened to that of modern-day chimpanzees. These bones were abandoned many millennia before man started cooking foods with fire. The eating of raw starches continued as man left Africa and conquered the world. Various sources of starch are found everywhere man settled. Cattails, acorns, palm starch, yams, potatoes, and many others are found all over the world. These starchy foods not only provided nutrition, but they more importantly fed our gut flora.
Modern Intakes of Raw Starch
Flash forward to modern times, and ask yourself, “When did I last eat a raw starch granule?” It’s doubtful that anyone reading this has ever made a meal of uncooked seeds or raw tubers. (Most) Modern humans posses gut bacteria that’s capable of turning raw starches into the short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) that keep our intestines and immune system functioning properly. However, the modern fiber-poor diet provides only a fraction of what we need.
Some modern-day foods we can eat to feed our gut flora are raw potatoes and very green bananas…neither extremely delicious, but they can be snacked on or put into smoothies. A good habit is to eat a slice or two of raw potato any time you’re cutting up spuds for a meal.
Another good trick is to take a raw starch supplement…potato starch, Hi-Maize, or banana flour are all easy to find as well as commercially-made blends containing resistant starch. These can be taken mixed with water, milk, or any cold liquid. A spoonful or two per day is all we need to keep our guts running like they were meant to.
The examination of million-year-old teeth show that the earliest humans ate foods that contained raw starches. It’s my belief that we still need to eat raw starches, in the form of resistant starch, in order to eat what I consider a truly human diet.
The Potato Hack’s all-potato diet uses cooked potatoes, but I like to recommend that people undercook their potatoes, and even eat a slice or two of raw potato. This allows ingestion of a special kind of starch, resistant starch, found in raw starchy foods.