Primal Blueprint Law #1 encompasses everything our ancestors ate to get the protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phenols, fiber, and other nutrients necessary to sustain life.
This provided all the fuel and building blocks that, along with specific exercise, prompted their genes to create strong muscles and enabled them to expend lots of energy each day moving about, to maintain healthy immune systems, to evolve larger brains, and to raise healthy children. The core of the physiologically appropriate human diet consists of plants and animals, specifically whole foods that are relatively unprocessed and can be made edible and nourishing with simple preparation techniques like cooking with fire, cutting, and mashing.
Herbs and spices: Spices and herbs like cumin, coriander, thyme, rosemary, sage, chili powder, mint, turmeric, paprika, garlic, and cayenne add flavor to dishes and prevent the breakdown of vital nutrients during cooking so that when you add spices or herbs, your food tastes better and is actually healthier for you.
This foundational diet excludes modern interpretations of animal products, such as chicken nuggets or other forms of mechanically and industrially processed meats. Additionally, it does not incorporate significant quantities of refined grains, processed sugars, and industrial seed oils, which either necessitate extensive processing to make them digestible or are devoid of their intrinsic nutrients that aid in their consumption and metabolism.
Support for this foundational human diet comes from three principal avenues of evidence: archaeological, anatomical, and clinical trials.
Archaeological findings are clear-cut: these were the foods consumed by ancient humans.
Enormous herbivores like mammoths etched with cut marks from human tools are found in our archaeological records.
We find bones with marrow extracted in ways no other species but humans could achieve, and numerous ancient slaughter sites with remains of antelope, deer, and rabbits.
Enormous shell middens along coastlines, dating back tens and even hundreds of thousands of years, point to seafood as a consistent source of protein and fat.
The presence of humans has historically been followed by the decline of large herbivores in the same regions, suggesting that we were good at catching, killing, and eating them.
Human anatomy and physiology
Human anatomy and physiology reveal that we are built to digest both meat and plants. The human gut presents high acidity levels akin to those of carnivorous wildlife, indicating a diet rich in easily digestible meat and animal fats. Our digestive tract is also relatively short, signaling an adaptation towards foods that do not require the extensive digestive systems found in herbivores, which have larger or multiple stomachs for breaking down fibrous plant matter. While not strictly carnivorous, the human anatomy is clearly adapted to an omnivorous diet that includes both plant and animal sources.
The clinical evidence, while not as conclusive—mostly due to the logistical and financial challenges of conducting large-scale dietary trials in humans—still offers insights.
Certain foods that have been a part of the human diet for millennia, like red meat, are shown to promote health and provide essential nutrients unavailable from other sources, such as vitamin B12, carnitine, and creatine. Studies involving senior citizens have demonstrated that a diet rich in red meat can lower inflammation and improve muscle strength, handgrip strength, daily functionality, and even cognitive function.12If red meat were truly detrimental and inflammatory, we would expect these vulnerable populations to show adverse effects, yet the evidence suggests they become healthier and more robust.
Animal protein from meat and even processed dairy outperforms plant protein extracted from strange sources like beans and grains using industrial processes unavailable for most of human history.3
Fish consumption improves attention in children, and these changes are linked to increased omega-3 levels in tissue.4
Human trials where participants are given colorful fruits, berries, and vegetables, tubers like potatoes and sweet potatoes, crucifers like broccoli and cauliflower, and leafy greens like kale or arugula are almost uniformly positive.
Even small human trials of diets that emulate the ancestral or paleolithic foods our ancestors would have consumed are uniformly positive.5
All relevant evidence points to plants and animals forming the basis of a healthy human diet. The amounts of each component are up to you, but you can’t escape the need for plants and animals.
The Primal Blueprint, and the book of the same name, offers a framework for achieving your personal best health, vitality, and longevity. It is organized into 10 Primal Laws derived from anthropology, sociology, biology, psychology, and common sense. These laws describe the diet, movement, and lifestyle practices that lead to optimal gene expression—the practices that have allowed humans to thrive for hundreds of thousands of years, but which many people struggle to achieve in the modern world.