I’ve known about and liked the Paleo diet for many years and found the following interesting. It’s an interview by Benjamin Domenech of John Durant, the author of The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health.
This was a tricky post to tag.. I added the tag Christianity because of the two following excerpts of Durant. Christianity was born out of Judaism and I’ve always found it fascinating that the Jews were ahead of their time when it came to health and diet matters. Then again, for those of us who believe the Bible is God’s divinely inspired message to mankind, it’s not a surprise at all.
Domenech: Your book begins with a look back, historically, and you build the scientific case for why you believe what you believe on this front. What do you think was the most surprising thread you came across in the course of that kind of investigation, diving deep into sort of the experiences of the past and some of the lessons that come from archeology and history?
Durant: You know, my favorite chapter in the book has nothing to do with the Paleolithic and nothing to do with diet. It’s Chapter 4 which is called “Moses the Microbiologist.” And it’s about how a lot of early religious traditions, particularly Judaism, emerged to help people deal with infectious disease which was rampant. So you see three injunctions for Jewish priests or Jewish people to wash their hands in the first five books of the Bible. I mean, hand washing is the simplest most effective form of hygiene ever discovered. It’s Nobel-worthy advice. And you start seeing injunctions for people to put their hands together and run clean water over them millennia ago.
I think we kind of take it for granted – our knowledge of hygiene and the germ theories of disease. We take it completely for granted. But if you actually lived 2,000, 3,000, 5,000 years ago in an early city you didn’t know that germ existed, you had no idea that germs could spread so easily by the slightest physical contact, and you had no clue what was killing so many people. It just looked like people were dropping dead. And it looks like they were getting struck down by God.
During the emergence of Judaism the importance of daily actions was huge. You know, in the Jewish tradition it wasn’t always about belief or attitude. Taking daily actions was extremely important. When you realize that many of those daily actions were hygienic actions that helped people avoid germs, you’re like oh, all right, so they had many of these rules where they had to wash their hands multiple times a day, just like we do today. And so in some sense today we have to find ways to motivate ourselves and take the daily actions required to be healthy human beings.