Where Do Gorillas Get Their Protein?

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What gorillas teach us about diet and health

When I was in sixth grade, my teachers taught me about the Four Food Groups. They told me that I had to eat two servings of meat and three servings of dairy products every day. Otherwise, my growth would be stunted. I wouldn’t be able to grow normal hair or fingernails. Then I went to the zoo, where I saw that the gorillas, which are bigger and stronger and hairier than I would ever be, were eating nothing but salad. In other words, they are practically vegan, yet they were clearly getting enough nutrition. How could that be?

How gorillas are like people

Gorillas have nearly the same DNA as human beings, which means that our body chemistry and theirs is almost exactly alike. Gorillas also have almost the same digestive system that we have. So how can gorillas grow up to be so big and strong without eating any meat (other than a few termites), any dairy products, any eggs, or any fish? Obviously, it’s time for us to rethink the Four Food Groups dogma that we were taught in school, and the real scientific authorities. Instead, they rely on nutrition information from magazines and newspapers and television programs and bestsellers that were written by people with no training in nutrition or dietetics. My goal in putting together this Web site is to put people in touch with the real scientific information about how diet affects health. I want to inspire them to make healthy changes in their own diet and to use this information to influence food policy.

Talk to your doctor and a registered dietitian (RD)

I am a technical editor who has worked on medical textbooks and journals and so on for more than 20 years. As a result, I know how to search the medical literature, and I understand what I read. However, I’m not a medical doctor or a registered dietitian. If you have any medical problem, talk to your doctor (or nurse practitioner or physician assistant). If you want to know what you should or should not eat, consult a registered dietitian. Registered dietitians are the professionals who have been specifically trained in how to use diet to improve health. Look for the “RD” after the name. Remember, “RDs are the real deal.”