Human Ancestors Were Nearly All Vegetarians

Dunn, R. (2012, July 23). Human Ancestors Were Nearly All Vegetarians .
Scientific American. Retrieved from

Paleolithic diets have become all the rage, but are they getting our ancestral diet all wrong?

Right now, one half of all Americans are on a diet. The other half just gave up on their diets and are on a binge. Collectively, we are overweight, sick and struggling. Our modern choices about what and how much to eat have gone terribly wrong. The time has come to return to a more sensible way of eating and living, but which way? One group of self-help books suggests we give up carbohydrates, another that we give up fats, another still that we lay off the protein. Or maybe we should just eat the way our ancestors did. A new class of very popular self-help books recommends a return to the diets of our ancestors. Paleolithic diets, caveman diets, primal diets and the like, urge us to remember the good ole days. Taken too literally, such diets are ridiculous. After all, like all wild species, sometimes our ancestors starved to death and the starving to death diet, well, it ends badly. The past was no panacea; each generation we made due with the bodies and foods available, imperfect bodies and imperfect foods. But let’s pretend, for the sake of argument, that it would be a good idea to eat like our ancestors ate. Just what did they eat?

Here is where the trouble starts. Collectively, anthropologists have spent many a career attempting to hone in on the diets of our most recent ancestors. Typically, they focus on our stone age (AKA Paleolithic) human ancestors or our earlier pre-human, hominid ancestors. Even if we just consider our stone age ancestors—those folks whose stories span the time between the first stone tool and the first agriculture—the sides of the debate are polarized. If you listen to one camp, our ancestors got most of their nutrition from gathered fruits and nuts; successful kills of big mammals may have been more of a treat than an everyday reality. A paper out just this month suggests that even Neanderthals–our north country cousins and mates– may have eaten much more plant material than previously suspected. Meanwhile, more macho camps of academics paint a picture of our ancestors as big, bad, hunters, who supplemented meaty diets with the occasional berry “chaser.” Others suggest we spent much of our recent past scavenging what the lions left behind, running in to snag a half-rotten wildebeest leg when the fates allowed. In other words, athough “Paleolithic” diets in diet books tend to be very meaty, reasonable minds disagree as to whether ancient, Paleolithic diets actually were. Fortunately, new research suggests answers (yes, plural) to the question of what our ancestors ate.

The resolutions come, in part, from considering the question of our diets in a broader evolutionary context. When we talk about “paleo” diets, we arbitrarily tend to start with one set of ancestors, our most recent ones. I want to eat like Homo erectus or a Neanderthal or a stone age human, my neighbors testify. But why do we choose these particular ancestors as starting points? They do seem tough and admirable in a really strong five o’ clock shadow sort of way. But if we want to return to the diet our guts and bodies “evolved to deal with” (a concept that wrongly assumes our bodies are fine tuned by engineers rather than cobbled together by natural selection), perhaps we should also be looking our earlier ancestors. In addition to understanding early humans and other hominids, we need to understand the diet of our ancestors during the times when the main features of our guts, and their magical abilities to turn food into life, evolved. The closest (albeit imperfect) proxies for our ancestral guts are to be found coiled inside the living bodies of monkeys and apes.

I should start by explaining what the “gut” is and does; I use the term too loosely. What I really mean is the alimentary canal and all of its gurgling bells and whistles. This canal is the most important and least lovely waterway on Earth. It takes you from the mouth through the body all the way down to the anus. But while most canals take the shortest course between two points, the one inside you takes the longest. The longer the canal, the more area over which digestion can occur. Food enters the canal through the mouth, where it is chewed and slimed with saliva. It then hits the stomach, where proteins are digested (and, I think, bacteria are filtered). Next, it is on down to the small intestine where simple sugars are absorbed. If you have just eaten a twinkie, the process essentially ends there. Everything worth consuming has been absorbed. But if you have eaten broccoli, an artichoke or a fig, things are just beginning. It is in the large intestine, where harder to break down carbohydrates (such as cellulose, the most common plant compound on Earth) are torn asunder. This system evolved so as to provide us with as many calories as possible (long to our benefit) and, also, as many of the necessary but hard to produce nutrients. The alimentary canal is, evolutionarily speaking, a masterwork. It makes energy from the food we are lucky enough to find 1.

Although all guts are sublime, just how they do what they do varies among species, much as do the leaves on trees or beaks on birds. When considering evolution’s great innovations, Darwin dallied among the beaks, but he might just as well have focused on the gut or even simply colons2. A beak can pick something up, maybe crush it. Big deal. A colon can jump start the process of turning a bit of rotten fruit or leaf into usable energy and ultimately life. Science can replicate a beak; it is still working on making a good replica of a colon, much less replicating the great variety of colons and guts more generally found in nature. Carnivores such as lions have smooth stomachs big enough to hold a good sized hunk of a small antelope. In them, the muscles of prey are returned to the bits of protein out of which they are made. The stomachs of some herbivores on the other hand are dense with hair-like villi and, moving among them, the bacteria that aid in the breakdown of plant cell walls and their cellulose. The stomach of a cow is a kind of giant fermenter in which bacteria produce huge quantities of specific fatty acids the cow can easily use or store (You eat some of those fatty acids when you eat a cow). In other species, the stomach scarcely exists and fermentation takes place in a greatly enlarged large intestine.

Yet, for all of the vulgar and magnificent elaborations on the theme of tubes to be found inside animals, the guts of humans are boring (although see footnote 5). Our guts are remarkably similar to those of chimpanzees and orangutans–gorillas are a bit special–which are, in turn, not so very different from those of most monkeys. If you were to sketch and then consider the guts of different monkeys, apes and humans you would stop before you were finished, unable to remember which ones you had drawn and which ones you had not. There is variation. In the leaf-eating black and white colobus monkeys (among which my wife and I once lived in Boabeng-Fiema, Ghana) the stomach is modified into a giant fermentation flask, as if the colobus were kin to a cow. In leaf-eating howler monkeys the large intestine has become enlarged to take on a similarly disproportionate role, albeit later on in digestion. But in most species things are not so complex. An unelaborated stomach breaks down protein, a simple small intestine absorbs sugars and a large (but not huge) large intestine ferments whatever plant material is left over. Our guts do not seem to be specialized hominid guts; they are, instead, relatively generalized monkey/ape guts. Our guts are distinguished primarily (aside from our slightly enlarged appendix) by what they are missing rather than what they uniquely possess. Our large intestines are shorter than those of living apes relative to the overall size of our gut (more like 25% of the whole, compared to 46% of the whole in chimps). This shortness appears to make us less able to obtain nutrients from the cellulose in plant material than are other primates though the data are far from clear-cut. The variation in the size and details of our large intestines relative to those of apes or gorillas have not been very well considered. In a 1925 study the size of colons was found to vary from one country to the next with the average Russian apparently having a colon five feet longer than the average Turk. Presumably the differences among regions in colon length are genetically based. It also seems likely that the true human colonic diversity has not yet been characterized (the above study considered only Europe). Because of the differences in our colons (and ultimately the number of bacteria in them) we must also vary in how effectively we turn cellulose and other hard to break down plant material into fatty acids. One measure of the inefficiency of our colons is our farting, which we all know varies person to person. Each stinking fart is filled with a measure of our variety.3 Aside then from the modest size of our colon, our guts are strikingly, elegantly, obviously, ordinary.


Image 1a (left). Chimpanzee eating an ordinary food, a fig.

So what do other living primates eat, the ones with guts mostly like ours, eat? The diets of nearly all monkeys and apes (except the leaf-eaters) are composed of fruits, nuts, leaves, insects, and sometimes the odd snack of a bird or a lizard (see more about chimpanzees). Most primates have the capacity for eating sugary fruit, the capacity for eating leaves and the capacity for eating meat. But meat is a rare treat, if eaten at all. Sure, chimpanzees sometimes kill and devour a baby monkey, but the proportion of the diet of the average chimpanzee composed of meat is small. And chimps eat more mammal meat than any of the other apes or any of the monkeys. The majority of the food consumed by primates today–and every indication is for the last thirty million years–is vegetable, not animal. Plants are what our apey and even earlier ancestors ate; they were our paleo diet for most of the last thirty million years during which our bodies, and our guts in particular, were evolving. In other words, there is very little evidence that our guts are terribly special and the job of a generalist primate gut is primarily to eat pieces of plants. We have special immune systems, special brains, even special hands, but our guts are ordinary and for tens of millions of years those ordinary guts have tended to be filled with fruit, leaves, and the occasional delicacy of a raw hummingbird4.

1b (right). Chimpanzee eating a rare delicacy, a colobus monkey. Photo by Joanna Lambert.

1b (right). Chimpanzee eating a rare delicacy, a colobus monkey. Photo by Joanna Lambert.

“But wait dude,” you might say, you have not gone far enough back in time. After all, most of the details of our guts, the size and shape of its different parts, are even older. Even prosimians, lemurs and their other adorable kin have guts similar to our guts. Maybe they were carnivores and we can still be “paleo” and eat a ton of meat? Maybe in thinking about our guts, we should look to the prosimians. Sure enough, most prosimians are (and likely were) carnivores. They eat and ate meat, BUT most of that meat comes from insects. And so if you are serious about eating a really old school paleo diet, if you mean to eat what our bodies evolved to eat in the “old” days, you really need to be eating more insects. Then again, our guts aren’t so different from those of rats. Maybe the rats… 4.

Which paleo diet should we eat? The one from twelve thousand years ago? A hundred thousand years ago? Forty million years ago? If you want to return to your ancestral diet, the one our ancestors ate when most of the features of our guts were evolving, you might reasonably eat what our ancestors spent the most time eating during the largest periods of the evolution of our guts, fruits, nuts, and vegetables—especially fungus-covered tropical leaves.

Of course, there might be differences between our digestive system and those of other species that have gone relatively undetected. Maybe someone will discover rapid evolution in the genes associated with our digestion over the last million years, the sort of evolution that might signal that we had evolved specialized (but so far hidden) features to deal with diets heavier in meat, an adaptationist just so story that makes a big steak seem not like an indulgence but instead our evolutionary birthright. If you want a justification for eating a meaty “paleodiet,” in other words, the search should be for evidence that some aspect of our bodies evolved in such a way as to be better able to deal with extra meat or other elements of our stone age diets that differed from the primate norm. It could be there, as of yet undetected.

If you want my bet, the majority of the recent (last few million years) changes in our guts and digestion will prove to have had more to do with processing food and, later, agriculture rather than with meat-eating per se. As hominids and/or humans switched to eating more meat, their bodies might have evolved so to be able to better digest meat. I could be convinced. But, we know our human digestive systems DID evolve to deal with agriculture and the processing (fermenting and cooking) of food. With agriculture, some human populations evolved extra copies of amylase genes, arguably so as to better be able to deal with starchy foods. The case of agriculture is the most clear. With agriculture, several human populations independently evolved gene variants that coded for the persistence of lactase (which breaks down lactose) so as to be able to deal with milk, not just as babies but also as adults. Drinking milk of another species as an adult is weird, but some human populations have evolved the ability. With agriculture, the species in our guts seem to have evolved too. Some populations of humans in Japan have a kind of bacteria in their guts which appears to have stolen genes for breaking down seaweed, a foodstuff that became popular along with the post-agricultural Japanese diet. With agriculture, human bodies changed so as as to cope with new foods. Our bodies bear the marks of many histories. As a result, if you want to eat what your body “evolved to eat” you need to eat something different depending on who your recent ancestors were. We already do this to some extent. If your ancestors were dairy farmers, you can drink milk as an adult without trouble, you’ve “got lactase.” But if they were not, you tend to get diarrhea when you drink milk and so you probably avoid the stuff (lest your friends avoid you). But the truth is, for most of the last twenty million years of the evolution of our bodies, through most of the big changes, we were eating fruit, nuts, leaves and the occasional bit of insect, frog, bird or mouse. While some of us might do well with milk, some might do better than others with starch and some might do better or worse with alcohol, we all have the basic machinery to get fruity or nutty without trouble. And anyway, just because some of us do better with milk or starch or meat than others doesn’t mean such foods are good for us, it just means that those individuals who couldn’t deal with these foods were more likely to die or less likely to mate.

Image 2. A Black and White Colobus Monkey eating leaves. Photo courtesy of Jessica Rothman.

Image 2. A Black and White Colobus Monkey eating leaves. Photo courtesy of Jessica Rothman.


What might be different, either between you and me or between you and me and our ancestors is the sort of gut bacteria we have to help us digest our food (which might also relate to the size and particulars of our colons). The new era in study of gut bacteria (and their role in digestion)—the era of the microbiome—may reveal that our stone age ancestors, by eating a little more meat, cultivated bacteria that help break down meat, which they then passed on to us (during birth which is messy and has long been), their maybe meat-eating descendents. Recent research by Joanna Lambert at the University of Texas, San Antonio and Vivek Fellner at North Carolina State University (my home institution) have revealed that the gut microbes of chimpanzees and gorillas do seem to work a little differently than those of monkeys (or at least the monkeys they studied). Bacteria from the guts of gorillas and chimps seem to produce more methane as waste than do those from monkey guts. Maybe this is just the tip of the fecal berg and the guts of different primates are fine-tuned to their diet in very sophisticated ways, including the fine-tuning of our own guts for eating more meat! Possibly, the next years will be exciting, both in terms of understanding the unique attributes of our microbes and the unique elements of our immune systems and the ways in which they regulate the composition of those microbes. These changes in bacteria might be mediated by changes in our immune systems themselves and how they relate to the microbes processing our planty food. Interestingly, if our gut bacteria responded rapidly to shifts in diets toward more meat during the stone age, they might be expected to have shifted again when we began to farm, at least for those of us with ancestors who began to farm early. When our gut bacteria met up with our agricultural diets, beginning twelve thousand years ago or so, they would have begun to compete with new microbial species that kicked ass at living off wheat, barley, corn, rice or any of the other grasses that have come to dominate the world, sometimes at our expense. This may even mean that which diet is best for you depends not only on who your ancestors were, but also who the ancestors of your bacteria were.

Image 3. A blue monkey eating a fig. Photo by Joanna Lambert.

Image 3. A blue monkey eating a fig. Photo by Joanna Lambert.

So, what should we eat? The past does not reveal a simple answer, ever. Our bodies did not evolve to be in harmony with a past diet. The evolved to take advantage of what was available. If the best diet we can, with billions of dollars invested in nutritional studies, stumble upon is the one that our ancestors of one or another stage happened to die less when consuming, we are in trouble. Should we take our evolutionary past into account when figuring out the optimal diet. Yes, definitely. But there are two big caveats. First, our evolutionary history is not singular. Our bodies are filled with layers of evolutionary histories; both recent and ancient adaptations, histories that influence how and who we are in every way, including what happens to the food we eat. The recent adaptations of our bodies differ from one person to the next, whether because of unique versions of genes or unique microbes, but our bodies are all fully-equipped to deal with meat (which is relatively easy) and natural sugars (also easy, if not always beneficial), and harder to digest plant material, what often gets called fiber.5 Our ancient evolutionary history influences how we deal with these foods, as does our stone age past, as do the changes that occurred to some but not all peoples as agriculture arose. With time, we will understand more about how these histories influence how our bodies deal with the food we eat. But the bigger caveat is that what our histories and ancestral diets offer is not an answer as to what we should eat. It is, more simply, context. Our ancestors were not at one with nature. Nature tried to kill them and starve them out; they survived anyway, sometimes with more meat, sometimes with less, thanks in part to the ancient flexibility of our guts.

As for me, I’ll choose to eat the fruits and nuts like my early ancestors, not because they are the perfect paleodiet but instead because I like these foods and modern studies suggest that consuming them offers benefits. I’ll supplement them with some of the great beans of agriculture, too much coffee, maybe a glass of wine and some chocolate. These supplements are not paleo by any definition, but I like them. What should you eat? The truth is that many different diets consumed by our ancestors–al insect diet, mastodon diets or whatever you please–would be, although some perfect panacea, better than the average modern diet, one so bad that any point in the past can come to seem like the good ole days, unless you go too far back to a point when our ancestors lived more like rats and probably ate everything, including their own feces. Sometimes what happens in paleo should really stay in paleo6.

1-Well, into you and into excrement.

2- It would have suited him. After all, he took great pains to document his own bowel movements.

3- The most widely cited comparison of the guts of chimps, humans, gorillas and orangutans has sample sizes of one individual for both chimps and orangutans, so just how much larger the large intestines of chimps or orangutans are relative to ours is not yet known. Our relatively short large intestines might be an adaptation to our special diet, but might also be the consequence of a tradeoff between investing in big brains and big intestines. Or some mix thereof. Along these lines, it has been suggested that our shift to eating more meat historically might have allowed investment in bigger brains which might, in turn, have required us to eat more meat so as to feed the bigger brain and simultaneously made our large intestines and their fermentation less necessary. This idea is interesting and many-layered and comes with a number of untested but testable predictions. It would be fun to explore the genes associated with the changes in the size of our large intestine and when and whether they underwent strong selection.

4-For a review of the ecology and evolution of primate guts, see the excellent work by my friend and colleague, Joanna Lambert. For example… Lambert JE. Primate nutritional ecology: feeding biology and diet at ecological and evolutionary scales. In Campbell C, Fuentes A, MacKinnon KC, Panger M, and Bearder S (eds): Primates in Perspective, 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press or Lambert, JE (1998) Primate digestion: interactions among anatomy, physiology, and feeding ecology. Evolutionary Anthropology. 7(1): 8-20.

5-Sometimes it takes a friend to say things just right. In defense of human guts, my friend Gregor Yanega at Pacific University offered, “Our guts are special because they are less specialized. They can accomodate so many changes in the foods that surround us, can accomodate unusual abundance and a certain amount of scarcity: we can even eat some of the world’s more difficult foodstuffs: grains, leaves, and plants. Berries, nuts, meats, sugars, those are easy. Eating them together is pretty rare.”

6-I know, what I have shown is not that our ancestors were vegetarians but instead that they tended to mostly eat vegetable matter. Here though I am using the definition of vegetarian that most humans use where someone is a vegetarian if they decline meat in public but occasionally, when no one is looking, sneak a beef jerky. The modern vegetarian’s illicit beef jerky is the ancestral vegetarian’s crunchy frog.

For another take on the troubles with looking to history for idealized answers to our modern problems see Marlene Zuk’s great article in the New York Times:

Why Freeze Dried Powders

The closest thing to fresh plants is freeze drying. Yet it even concentrates all aspect of the plant as many pounds of plants are needed to produce one pound of powder. Enzymes and antioxidants are concentrated many fold as well. Other methods, like air drying etc., have active constituents of the plants lost.

The process of freeze drying (lyophilization for the hi-tech crowd) involves harvesting the plants at their peak. They are then washed in fresh spring water and sprayed clean.The cleaned plants are immediately frozen to provide for the necessary conditions for low temperature drying. The plants are then placed under a vacuum. This enables the frozen water in the herb to vaporize without passing through the liquid stage, a process known as sublimination. Low temperature condenser plates remove the vaporized water from the vacuum chamber by converting it back to a solid. This completes the separation process.

After the vacuum has been introduces there is about 4-5% of moisture left in the plant material. To reduce this final moisture content, low temperature heat is applied to the frozen material to accelerate sublimation and pull off the remaining moisture.

Sea Plankton


Recent research has revealed the tremendous antioxidant value that is contained in Sea Plankton. This certainly is not accidental as Sea Plankton is the original life form preceding all living creatures on our planet as we all came originally from the ocean. Our bodies contain mostly water, with the genetic make up of our origin, the ocean.

Commonly kelp or seaweed are washing up on the shore and people have heard of nutritional value and benefits of these. The difference of these and most other algae to Sea plankton is that Sea Plankton feeds almost all the fish in the ocean in some way or another and contains incredible amounts of nutrients.  A particular and special strain of Sea Plankton that is grown in Hawai, also called Pacific Sea Plankton, contains an incredible nutritional profile with all the essential amino acids, the healing fatty acids (omega 3’s — EPA/DHA), plus a wealth of vitamins, key minerals and trace elements, rare antioxidants, phospholipids, electrolytes, nucleic acids, enzymes, and co-enzymes.

Unlike other algae based super foods like Chlorella, this single celled organism does not have a shell and is immediately absorbed once it touches your tongue.

Unfortunately, most fish oils contain substantial amounts of toxins, such as mercury and PCBs

As an alternative, Sea Plankton is clearly one of the most effective ways to complement and enhance our bodies need to protect and repair our body.
Omega-3 has been used for years for chronic inflammation with great promise, yet it certainly did not show the results we all hoped for. This is because research now shows that the previously believed benefits of Fish oil are based an inferior source of Omega-3. Fish oil is a very questionable source of Omega-3. Most Fish oil sold today is processed from fish guts, skin, heads, fins, trimmings and blood in industrial fishmeal rendering plants where farmed fish by-products and small wild fish are ground up as feed for farmed fish. It is an industrial by-product contaminated with toxins. It first must be refined using high heat under pressure with harsh solvents. Fish oil is highly processed and far from natural.
Fish oil is contaminated with the toxins present in the water of the fish farm and wild marine environment, such as PCB, dioxin, flame retardant, mercury, lead, herbicides, pesticides, as well as the antibiotics, growth hormones and food coloring.
Highly questionable methods are commonly used to detox contaminated fish oils like extreme heat processing or Molecular Distillation including harsh solvents such as hexane or ethanol. The results is a highly altered product that our body just cannot utilize properly anymore. It became so foreign that it actually can do more harm then good as not all the toxins can be completely removed from the fish oil. Rancidity is a common result as the oils oxidize resulting in fishy smell and difficulty to digest. So the oil must be deodorized; lemon flavor may be added. Unfortunately, rancid oils are easily concealed in gelatin capsules, and they are pro-inflammatory when consumed.
These negative effects of oil refining might explain why the daily serving amount of fish oil is so high, typically in the thousands of mg. Yet, only 100mg a day of Sea plankton has tremendous amounts of Omega-3. Also, sea plankton lipids are much more absorbable than highly processed oils.
Medical research has clearly demonstrated that an increased amount of Omega-3 EPA/DHA relative to Omega-6 in our diet shows great benefits. Omega-3 deficiency has been linked to chronic inflammation. Advances in science and extensive clinical research have established a link between chronic inflammation and a broad range of degenerative conditions such as heart disease, cancer, immune dysfunction, arthritis, obesity, diabetes, psychiatric disorders and more.
Omega-3 DHA/EPA originates in sea plankton. Small wild fish obtain Omega-3 by consuming sea plankton, the sole producer of Omega-3 EPA/DHA. The Omega-3 fatty acids are transported through the marine food chains to become enriched in the fats of fish, marine mammals and other higher animals.
Sea Plankton is a truly fantastic source for Omega-3 but also for many other important antioxidants. It contains great amounts of vitamin B-12 and also great antioxidants like Astaxanthin etc.
Sea Plankton further contains a wide range of essential fatty acids in a complete, balanced array of natural phytochemicals and micronutrients like the Omega-3 fatty acids: Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) Alpha linoleic acid (ALA)
Omega-3 DHA EPA, Omega-6, vitamins, rare trace minerals & elements, antioxidants, carotenoids, pigments, amino acids, enzymes, polyphenols, chlorophyll, phytonutrients, lean protein, and much more. The nutrients are bound to naturally occurring emulsifiers, thereby enhancing balanced cellular nutrition with optimal absorption.

Scientists speculate that billions of years ago the introduction of tiny organisms with the ability to convert sunlight, warmth, water and minerals into protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and amino acids marked the beginning of life. Called Sea Plankton, these tiny creatures are the basis of all other life forms on planet earth.
Sea Plankton remains on earth to this day as the first and most efficient food producer on the planet. From this tiny organism, the most basic of foods, the chain of life extends through all the plants and animals, finally bringing life to all humanity itself. Sea Plankton is a uniquely developed Hawaii-bred ‘Micro algae’. This special Sea Plankton is the most potent source of ‘Beta Carotene’ and is one of the richest sources of GLA, Vitamin B-12, Chlorophyll and protein in the world.
Sea Plankton is the purest of foods. Its position at the base of the food chain makes this ‘Sea Plankton Live Food’ the purest food on earth. As the very first to convert sunlight, warmth, water and minerals into substances of life, it produces highly nutritious, easily assimilated food without contaminants. It is 85 to 95% digestible.

This ‘Live Food’ has several environmental advantages over other products. Grown in sea-water ponds on the Kona Coast of Hawaii, Pacific Sea Plankton is a totally unique strain of micro algae. This is in direct contrast with most micro algae products which are grown in ‘interrupted’ seasonal cycles in fresh water ponds. Pacific Sea Plasma’s growth cycle has been uninterrupted since 1981 allowing it continuous evolutionary development in the unrelenting Kona sunshine.
Additionally, it is grown in nutrient rich ‘Sea Water’ brought from 2,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. As a result, Sea Plankton is totally free of any pesticides or contaminants. And finally, all nutrients in Sea Plankton are kept fresh and vital through a new ‘Low-oxygen” drying technology that exists nowhere else in the world today.

Easily the most potent source of ‘Beta Carotene’ available in the world,  Sea Plankton offers 3 times the potency of ‘Spirulina’. It has 10 times the concentration of carrots. Ten grams of  Sea Plankton provides well over an amazing 23,000 IU (14mg.) of beta carotene or 460% of the US RDA of Vitamin A activity. High doses of Vitamin A supplements may be toxic, the Beta Carotene in Pacific Sea Plankton is always safe because the body only converts beta carotene to Vitamins as needed.

Pacific Sea Plankton joins ‘Spirulina’ as the richest source of Vitamin B-12. It is higher than beef liver, chlorella or sea vegetables. Because B-12 is difficult to get from plant sources, Pacific Sea Plankton is the ideal natural choice.
10 grams of Pacific Sea Plankton contain 20 to 30 micrograms (mcg) of B-12, and from 330 to 530% of the US RDA Thiamin and Riboflavin. Other B vitamins, B-6, Niacin, Biotin, Panthothenic Acid, Folic Acid, Insoitol, and vitamin E are present in smaller amounts.

Pacific Sea Plankton is one of the richest food sources of GLA besides mother’s milk. GLA is an essential fatty acid which means that it is good fat and absolutely essential to health. GLA is the precursor to the body’s master hormones that control many functions. Although essential, the body is unable to synthesize its own GLA and relies on adequate food sources. 10 grams of Pacific Sea Plankton contains 100 milligrams (mg) of GLA.


New Earth Superfoods is offering Sea Plankton in basically two forms – one in powder and the other in a further enhanced cultured form of Coconut Kefir.
Suggested Dosage: Take a tsp daily with a large glass of liquid or even better take an ounce of our Sea Plankton Kefir whenever you feel low in energy or stamina.
Each individual is unique. Some people are more toxic and have longer standing health concerns than others. The amount that you use depends on your own unique individual needs. Your servings will change as your body condition changes.
In some cases its advisable to double or triple the initial dosage for faster results. Reminder: This is a whole food made from 100% Pacific Sea Plankton. Our products work nutritionally and are not stimulants. Any results are nutritional and in no way mean to imply that you should not see a doctor.


(Total 48mg/g)
Protein    60%
Carbohydrates    19%         Omega 6 Family
Lipids    6%         Gamma Linolenic (GLA)    10 mg
Minerals    8%         Essential Linoleic    11 mg
Moisture    7%         Dihomogamma Linolenic    .53 mg
Omega 3 Family
VITAMINS         Alpha Linolenic    14.5 mcg
Docosahexaenoic (DHA)    14.5 mcg
Beta-Carotene    2.8mg         Monoenoic Family
Vitamin A (as Beta Carotene)    4,676 iu         Palmitoleic    1.98 mg
B1 Thiamine    34 mcg         Oleic    .17 mg
B2 Riboflavin    33 mcg         Erucic    .024 mg
B3 Niacin    207 mcg
B6    4.4 mcg         OTHER FATTY ACIDS
B12    2.2 mcg
Vitamin E (d-a tocopherol)    15 mcg         Palmitic Acid    20 mg
Inositol    680 mcg         Myristic Acid    1.08 mg
Biotin    .323 mcg         Stearic Acid    .068 mg
Folic Acid    .3 mcg         Arachidic Acid    .048 mg
Pantothenic Acid    4 mcg         Behenic Acid    .048 mg
Lignoceric Acid    .024 mg
Maganese             26 mcg         PIGMENTS AND ENZYMES
Calcium    4 mg
Magnesium    4.8 mg         Chlorophyll    7.9 mg
Iron    1.06 mg         Beta-Carotene    2.8 mg
Phosphorus    10.4 mg         Total Carotenoids    5.4 mg
Potassium    15.4 mg         Phycocyanin    111 mg
Sodium    7.3 mg         Superoxide Dismutase    .4 mg

Zinc    12 mcg         Pacific Sea Plankton is also a rich source of enzymes, RNA, DNA, sulfolipids, glycogen, and other potentially important nutrients.
Boron    10 mcg
Copper    1 mcg

Probiotics and Autism

Autism is a complex developmental disability that affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others, with a wide range of behavioral, social, and language problems. Autism usually appears during the first three years of life.

Autism is characterized by a collection of neurobehavioral, neurological, gastrointestinal and immunological dysfunctions that include a loss of eye contact, deficiencies in socialization and communication, abnormal theory of mind function, language dysfunction, restrictive, repetitive, and stereotypical behaviors, food allergies, constipation, yeast infections and other behavioral and medical conditions.

Autism is called a “spectrum disorder” since it affects individuals differently and to varying degrees.

It is estimated that one in every 150 American children has some degree of autism with males being affected three to four times more frequently than females. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are complicated conditions that may require an integrative treatment protocol involving many factors including behavioral and social therapy, pharmacotherapy, environmental control, dietary supplements, nutritional, alternative and biomedical therapies. Many are sick with gastrointestinal, immunologic, and metabolic problems that significantly affect their behavior and their physical and emotional health. Treating the medical problems often leads to improvement in clinical signs and symptoms and, in some cases, to recovery.

Causes of Autism

There has been an exponential increase in the number of new diagnoses of autism. And there is continuing debate and controversy as to what the diagnosis ‘autism’ actually constitutes. There is even more debate and controversy as to its causes, and potential for treatment /amelioration.

The fundamental cause of Autism, based in our experience, is severe intestinal flora imbalances resulting into immune imbalances mainly due to gastrointestinal infections, antibiotics and vaccinations that in turn affect the brain. We have daily phone and e-mail contacts with parents of ASD children where parents detail causes and symptoms of Autism and treatments they undertake for their children. Our evaluation of causes of Autism is as follows.

Autism usually appears during the first three years of life. The reason is, and it is well documented, that between the ages of 0-3, the intestinal microflora of a child is not well established yet. The same can be said about the brain and nervous system. They are in a stage of formation and are fragile. During this time, if a lot of antibiotics and/or vaccinations are given, and if the immune system of a child is somewhat low, the intestinal microflora being fragile is affected negatively. As a result a toxic condition is produced in the gut that will affect the brain and the nervous system to various extents. The more toxicity in the gut the more the effect on the brain. As a result, the majority of children with Autism reveal abnormal gastrointestinal symptoms including food allergies, yeast infections, constipation.

Factors affecting Gut/Brain/Immune dysfunction and Autism are indicated in Fig. 1. These factors result into at least two types of ASD with regard to disease development: abnormal cognitive development evident from birth (classical autism); and in the majority cases developmental regression, usually between 18-36 months of age, following apparent normal development (regressive autism).

Gut/Brain/Immune Dysfunction and Autism

It is very important to understand the direct relationship between the gut and brain, especially during the first three years of life, when both are in a stage of formation. The above factors make the immune system of each child different and unique. Therefore physicians, especially pediatricians, should not treat all children alike, but on a case by case basis after careful evaluation with the parents. A detailed history should be taken that can determine, at least qualitatively, the immune system of each child. Hence the standard vaccination schedule can not be applicable, if the above factors are not evaluated and taken into consideration properly.

Gut-Brain-Immune Axis

The gastrointestinal tract is a complex ecosystem in which there is a delicate balance between the intestinal microflora and the host. A healthy gastrointestinal tract should contain a high percentage of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria beneficial bacteria to prevent the over colonization of disease causing pathogenic micro-organisms such as E. Coli, Clostridia, Salmonella and Candida.

Bidirectional interactions between the brain and intestinal microflora might have an important role in modulating gut and brain function and may be involved in the modulation of emotions, pain perception, mucosal immune activity and general well-being. The reduction of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria and overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria will be stressful to this brain/gut interactions especially for infants aged 0-3 producing neurological and immune imbalances and affecting their development. The neurological and immune systems are inextricably intertwined beginning in the embryonic stage of life. Disruption of the bidirectional interactions between the intestinal microflora and the nervous system may be involved in the pathophysiology of acute and chronic gastrointestinal and neurological disease states.

Abbreviations: ANS, autonomic nervous system; CNS, central nervous system; EMS,

emotional motor system; GI, gastrointestinal; HPA, hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal. Fig. 2 Source: Rhee, S. H. et al. Nat. Rev. Gastroenterol. Hepatol. 6, 306–314 (2009)

D-Lactate Free Probiotic powder formulation have been used specifically for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), to improving their intestinal microflora and digestive processes. D-lactate is a result of fermentation of probiotic bacteria in the digestive system.

Probiotics and Autism

Probiotics are defined as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host”. They possess the ability to transiently colonize the GI tract, increase the concentration of beneficial microbes, and thereby create a balance in the gut microbiota to the ultimate benefit of the host, in a natural and safe way.

Potential or known mechanisms whereby probiotic bacteria might impact on the microbiota include:

competition for dietary ingredients as growth substrates

bioconversion of, for example, sugars into fermentation products with inhibitory properties

production of growth substrates

direct effect on pathogens

competitive exclusion for binding sites

barrier function

reduction of inflammation, thus altering intestinal properties for colonization and persistence within, and (8) stimulation of innate immune response.

Probiotics can therefore have been used to prevent or reduce the risk of ASD for infants aged 0-3. The aim is to protect their digestive and immune systems by using probiotics at appropriate dosages prior, during and after any intervention, such as antibiotics or vaccinations, that affect negatively the intestinal microflora and immune system of the mother and infant, as indicated in Fig. 1. Choosing the correct probiotic formulation and dosages are considerations that also must be understood and followed by pediatricians and parents alike.


Candida is a fungus that normally inhabits the mouth, throat, gbastrointestinal tract and vagina. Under normal conditions, candida exists within us in a healthy balance, and the body’s immune system keeps it from spreading.  When your immune system is strong, candida yeasts presents no problem.  But, if you have a poor and sugary diet, nutritional deficiencies, exposure to toxins and stress and/or take antibiotics or other medications the good bacteria that prevent fungal infections from developing can get knocked out.  Candida yeasts then multiply and further weaken the immune system.

Symptoms of Candida

Feelings of frustration and loneliness are common when dealing with a yeast overgrowth because Candida is evasive to much of the medical community. Here are some of the common symptoms:

• Gas, bloating and indigestion

• Bowel irregularities, constipation or diarrhea

• Food cravings especially for carbohydrates or sweets

• Mood swings or depression

• Headaches or migraines

• Menstrual problems and PMS

• Dry, itchy skin or hives

• Finger or toe nail fungus

• Vaginal yeast infections

• Itching or redness in body creases

• Chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia

• Weight imbalances (over or under-weight despite diet)

• Premature ageing

• Chemical sensitivity (especially colognes or fabric dye)

What You Can Do to Fight Candida – Probiotics For Candida

Probiotics are often used in the fight to reduce Candida overgrowth. Amounts used differ from person to person depending on a variety of circumstances like diet and condition.

Dietary Changes in Reducing Candida

Changing your diet is also recommend to control the Candida. Your diet should exclude fruit, sugar and yeast. Especially in the beginning of the treatment you have to be very strict and disciplined. If you cheat you’ll feel the effect of the Candida “monster”.

Anti-fungal agents have been traditionally used. The major anti-fungal prescription medications are Nystatin, Diflucan, Nizoral and Sporanox. Natural antifungal and antibacterial agents are garlic, olive leaf extract, oil of oregano, pau d’arco, uva ursi, golden seal, caprylic acid and citrus seed extract. Fibers such as flaxseed powder and psyllium husk have been used as well.

Balancing Act

Generally speaking, proper diet, high potency and quality multi-strain probiotics and natural anti-fungal agents are essential in the prevention, control and elimination of Candida.

As the intestinal and vaginal microflora become balanced, you can tolerate a greater variety of foods. If you think you might have symptoms of Candida overgrowth, consult a health care practitioner who is familiar with this condition. Other conditions have similar manifestations. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment may cause these conditions to be overlooked.

Gut Bacteria Might Guide The Workings Of Our Minds


November 18, 2013 3:07 AM

Illustration by Benjamin Arthur for NPR

Could the microbes that inhabit our guts help explain that old idea of “gut feelings?” There’s growing evidence that gut bacteria really might influence our minds.

“I’m always by profession a skeptic,” says Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. “But I do believe that our gut microbes affect what goes on in our brains.”

Mayer thinks the bacteria in our digestive systems may help mold brain structure as we’re growing up, and possibly influence our moods, behavior and feelings when we’re adults. “It opens up a completely new way of looking at brain function and health and disease,” he says.

So Mayer is working on just that, doing MRI scans to look at the brains of thousands of volunteers and then comparing brain structure to the types of bacteria in their guts. He thinks he already has the first clues of a connection, from an analysis of about 60 volunteers.

Mayer found that the connections between brain regions differed depending on which species of bacteria dominated a person’s gut. That suggests that the specific mix of microbes in our guts might help determine what kinds of brains we have — how our brain circuits develop and how they’re wired.

Credit: Benjamin Arthur for NPR

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the microbes are causing changes in brain structure, or in behavior.

But other researchers have been trying to figure out a possible connection by looking at gut microbes in mice. There they’ve found changes in both brain chemistry and behavior. One experiment involved replacing the gut bacteria of anxious mice with bacteria from fearless mice.

“The mice became less anxious, more gregarious,” says Stephen Collins of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who led a team that conducted the research.

It worked the other way around, too — bold mice became timid when they got the microbes of anxious ones. And aggressive mice calmed down when the scientists altered their microbes by changing their diet, feeding them probiotics or dosing them with antibiotics.

To find out what might be causing the behavior changes, Collins and his colleagues then measured brain chemistry in mice. They found changes in a part of the brain involved in emotion and mood, including increases in a chemical calledbrain-derived neurotrophic factor, which plays a role in learning and memory.

Scientists also have been working on a really obvious question — how the gut microbes couldtalk to the brain.

A big nerve known as the vagus nerve, which runs all the way from the brain to the abdomen, was a prime suspect. And when researchers in Ireland cut the vagus nerve in mice, they no longer saw the brain respond to changes in the gut.

“The vagus nerve is the highway of communication between what’s going on in the gut and what’s going on in the brain,” says John Cryan of the University College Cork in Ireland, who has collaborated with Collins.

Gut microbes may also communicate with the brain in other ways, scientists say, by modulating the immune system or by producing their own versions of neurotransmitters.

“I’m actually seeing new neurochemicals that have not been described before being produced by certain bacteria,” says Mark Lyte of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Abilene, who studies how microbes affect the endocrine system. “These bacteria are, in effect, mind-altering microorganisms.”

This research raises the possibility that scientists could someday create drugs that mimic the signals being sent from the gut to the brain, or just give people the good bacteria — probiotics — to prevent or treat problems involving the brain.

One group of scientists has tested mice that have behaviors similar to some of the symptoms of autism in humans. The idea is that the probiotics might correct problems the animals have with their gastrointestinal systems — problems that many autistic children also have.

In the mice, many of their autism behaviors were no longer present or strongly ameliorated with probiotics, says Paul Patterson at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. His research will be published soon in the journal Cell.

Experiments to test whether changing gut microbes in humans could affect the brain are only just beginning.

One team of researchers in Baltimore is testing a probiotic to see if it can help prevent relapses of mania among patients suffering from bipolar disorder.

“The idea is that these probiotic treatments may alter what we call the microbiome and then may contribute to an improvement of psychiatric symptoms,” says Faith Dickerson, director of psychology at the Sheppard Pratt Health System.

“It makes perfect sense to me,” says Leah, a study participant who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She agreed to talk with NPR if we agreed not to use her full name. “Your brain is just another organ. It’s definitely affected by what goes on in the rest of your body.”

It’s far too soon to know whether the probiotic has any effect, but Leah suspects it might. “I’m doing really well,” she says. “I’m about to graduate college, and I’m doing everything right.”

Mayer also has been studying the effects of probiotics on the brain in humans. Along with his colleague Kirsten Tillisch, Mayer gave healthy women yogurt containing a probiotic and then scanned their brains. He found subtle signs that the brain circuits involved in anxiety were less reactive, according to a paper published in the journal Gastroenterology.

But Mayer and others stress that a lot more work will be needed to know whether that probiotic — or any others — really could help people feel less anxious or help solve other problems involving the brain. He says, “We’re really in the early stages.”

Chowing Down On Meat, Dairy Alters Gut Bacteria A Lot, And Quickly


December 11, 2013 1:34 PM

To figure out how diet influences the microbiome, scientists put volunteers on two extreme diets: one that included only meat, egg and cheese and one that contained only grains, vegetables and legumes.

Morgan Walker/NPR

Looks like Harvard University scientists have given us another reason to walk past the cheese platter at holiday parties and reach for the carrot sticks instead: Your gut bacteria will thank you.

Switching to a diet packed with meat and cheese — and very few carbohydrates — alters the trillions of microbes living in the gut, scientists report Wednesday in the journal Nature.

The change happens quickly. Within two days, the types of microbes thriving in the gut shuffle around. And there are signs that some of these shifts might not be so good for your gut: One type of bacterium that flourishes under the meat-rich diet has been linked to inflammation and intestinal diseases in mice.

“I mean, I love meat,” says microbiologist Lawrence David, who contributed to the study and is now at Duke University.

“But I will say that I definitely feel a lot more guilty ordering a hamburger … since doing this work,” he says.

Scientists are just beginning to learn about how our decisions at the dinner table — or the drive-through — tweak our microbiome, that is, the communities of bacteria living in our bodies. But one thing is becoming clear: The critters hanging out in our intestine influence many aspects of our health, including weight, immunity and perhaps evenbehavior.

And interest in studying the links between diet and the human microbiome is growing. Previous research in this field had turned up tantalizing evidence that eating fiber can alter the composition of gut bacteria. But these studies had looked at diets over long periods of times — months and even years. David and his colleagues wanted to know whether fiber — or lack of it — could alter gut bacteria more rapidly.

To figure that out, the researchers got nine volunteers to go on two extreme diets for five days each.

The first diet was all about meat and cheese. “Breakfast was eggs and bacon,” David says. “Lunch was ribs and briskets, and then for dinner, it was salami and prosciutto with an assortment of cheeses. The volunteers had pork rinds for snacks.”

Then, after a break, the nine volunteers began a second, fiber-rich diet at the other end of the spectrum: It all came from plants. “Breakfast was granola cereal,” David says. “For lunch, it was jasmine rice, cooked onions, tomatoes, squash, garlic, peas and lentils.” Dinner looked similar, and the volunteers could snack on bananas and mangoes.

“The animal-based diet is admittedly a little extreme,” he says. “But the plant-based diet is one you might find in a developing country.”

David and the team analyzed the volunteers’ microbiomes before, during and after each diet. And the effects of all that meat and cheese were immediately apparent.

“The relative abundance of various bacteria species looked like it shifted within a day after the food hit the gut,” David says. After the volunteers had spent about three days on each diet, the bacteria in the gut even started to change their behavior. “The kind of genes turned on in the microbes changed in both diets,” he says.

In particular, microbes that “love bile” — the Bilophila — started to dominate the volunteers’ guts during the animal-based diet. Bile helps the stomach digest fats. So people make more bile when their diet is rich in meat and dairy fats.

A study last year found that blooms of Bilophila cause inflammation and colitis in mice. “But we didn’t measure levels of inflammation in our subjects,” David says. “That’s the next step.”

Instead, he says, his team’s data support the overall animal model that Bilophila promotes inflammation, which could ultimately be controlled by diet.

“Our study is a proof of concept that you can modify the microbiome through diet,” David says. “But we’re still a long ways off from being able to manipulate the community in any kind of way that an engineer would be pleased about.”

Even just classifying Bilophila as “bad bacteria” is a tricky matter, says Dr. Purna Kashyap, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

“These bacteria are members of a community that have lived in harmony with us for thousands of years,” says Kashyap, who wasn’t involved in the study. “You can’t just pick out one member of this whole team and say it’s bad. Most bacteria in the gut are here for our benefit, but given the right environment, they can turn on us and cause disease.”

Nevertheless, Kashyap thinks the Nature study is exciting because the findings unlock a potentially new avenue for treating intestinal diseases. “We want to look at diet as a way of treating patients,” Kashyap says. “This study shows that short-term dietary interventions can change microbial composition and function.”

Of course, figuring out exactly how to do that will take much more research.

“The paper has made the next leap in the field,” Kashyap says. “With discovery comes responsibility. Once you make this big finding, it needs to be tested appropriately.”