Herbivores by Design

Hello friends from the blogosphere! I am so psyched to be back here for another round of Abundant Life. I would LOVE to get some of your feedback in the comments section about what you think of this new segment on the blog. Food and health is something I am very passionate about. I know I can go on and on and on about food, but I'd so appreciate hearing from YOU. What would you like to talk about? Do you have any questions we can explore together or experiences you'd like to share? Share your thoughts... :)
On to today's topic: Herbivores. Oh yeah.  
So the question of the day is: Are humans herbivores or carnivores?

Before we start discussing the differences between those three terms let's take a trip back to high school biology. In its most basic form, here are the definitions of those terms: 
Herbivore: animal that feeds on plants

Carnivore: animal that feeds on flesh.
The words "herbivore" and "carnivore" refer to the animal's biological need to consume such a diet in order to survive. With that said, carnivores, for example, cannot live on a diet based on plants alone. Their organism needs flesh to function. SO what are humans?! I've heard many a people call themselves "carnivores" because they love meat, or "omnivores" because they consume plants and meat, but what do our bodies say we are? Here are some physiological differences between carnivores and herbivores:
  • Intestinal tract length. Carnivorous animals have intestinal tracts that are 3-6x their body length, while herbivores have intestinal tracts 10-12x their body length. Human beings have the same intestinal tract ratio as herbivores.
  • Stomach acidity. Carnivores’ stomachs are 20x more acidic than the stomachs of herbivores. Human stomach acidity matches that of herbivores.
  • Saliva. The saliva of carnivores is acidic. The saliva of herbivores is alkaline, which helps pre-digest plant foods. Human saliva is alkaline.
  • Shape of intestines. Carnivore bowels are smooth, shaped like a pipe, so meat passes through quickly — they don’t have bumps or pockets. Herbivore bowels are bumpy and pouch-like with lots of pockets, like a windy mountain road, so plant foods pass through slowly for optimal nutrient absorption. Human bowels have the same characteristics as those of herbivores.
  • Fiber. Carnivores don’t require fiber to help move food through their short and smooth digestive tracts. Herbivores require dietary fiber to move food through their long and bumpy digestive tracts, to prevent the bowels from becoming clogged with rotting food. Humans have the same requirement as herbivores.
  • Cholesterol. Cholesterol is not a problem for a carnivore’s digestive system. A carnivore such as a cat can handle a high-cholesterol diet without negative health consequences. A human cannot. Humans have zero dietary need for cholesterol because our bodies manufacture all we need. Cholesterol is only found in animal foods, never in plant foods. A plant-based diet is by definition cholesterol-free.
  • Claws and teeth. Carnivores have claws, sharp front teeth capable of subduing prey, and no flat molars for chewing. Herbivores have no claws or sharp front teeth capable of subduing prey, but they have flat molars for chewing. Humans have the same characteristics as herbivores.

Pretty neat eh? I was reading a research commentary by Dr. William Roberts of Baylor University recently that talked about the cause of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the build-up of cholesterol in the walls of the arteries causing them to harden and decrease in diameter. This leads to coronary heart disease which is the #1 killer in the United States. Dr. Roberts went on to explain how atherosclerosis can only develop in herbivores because they are intaking animal products which by nature, contain cholesterol. Cholesterol is not necessary in a herbivore diet and is directly related to the development of atherosclerosis. 

So to answer the original question, are humans herbivores or carnivores?

By design, humans are herbivores. Our bodies were uniquely designed to ingest plant foods and when we deviate from that, we reep disease. How does this change the way you view your diet?

I understand this is a tough pill to swallow. All sorts of questions might be popping up in your mind like the infamous, "Where do you get your protein?!" See Mr. Elephant over here? He doesn't eat meat, yet He is the biggest, strongest herbivore I know! ;) We'll be talking about this very thing next week so come back! You might just discover a ton of new sources of protein you never thought existed. 

What are you going to do this upcoming week to be plant-strong? What's your favorite fruit or veggie? Start by eating more of your favorite plant foods!



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