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The Ideal Diet for Humans

Updated on April 4, 2011

The Diet that Nature Intended

Why has eating become so complicated? Every day, we hear some new piece of nutritional advice or some new diet recommendation that forces us to constantly reevaluate our food choices. In the process, we have completely forgotten the simple way that nature intended for us to eat. This lense will show you why a natural diet of raw, low-fat, fruits and vegetables (a frugivore diet) is the ideal diet for human consumption.

The Diet in a Nutshell

These are the essentials for successfully maintaining a frugivore diet. Many of these guidelines come from Dr. Doug Graham's book, The 80/10/10 Diet. See below for more details on each of these topics.

  • Only eat raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
  • Eat plenty of leafy greens.
  • Keep overall fat consumption low.
  • Exercise frequently.
  • Get plenty of sunlight.
  • Get enough sleep

What benefits will I experience on a frugivore diet?

These are only some of the many benefits that you will experience on a frugivore diet. For a longer list, click here.

  • less sickness
  • better mental clarity
  • improved athletic performance
  • amazing skin
  • less body odor
  • heal chronic injuries
  • better sleep
  • improved mood
  • better eyesight
  • faster-growing hair and nails
  • reach your ideal weight

Why Fruits and Vegetables?

Fruits and vegetables are the healthiest foods you can possibly eat. They provide your body with all the nutrition that it needs to thrive. In fact, there is not a single vitamin, mineral, phytonutrient, lipid, amino acid, etc. that is not provided in sufficient quantities by fruits and vegetables.

For millions of years, all humans naturally ate a diet of raw fruits and vegetables. We only began to change our diet within the last 100,000 years when we were forced to adapt to climate change. Moreover, all of our closest genetic relatives (gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, etc.) still eat a diet of primarily fruits and vegetables. These animals will eat other food in times of desperation, but they prefer raw fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Physiologically, we are still very similar to these animals.

It's true that humans can survive on almost any diet. We are very adaptive creatures. However, we can only thrive on a diet of fruits and vegetables. No other diet compares. Meat, dairy, legumes and grains are all difficult to digest, acid-forming, and full of toxins.

But what about protein? Yes, fruits average around 5% protein and vegetables average around 15% protein. That is more than enough for growth, maintenance, and muscle building. In fact, the standard american diet usually doesn't have more than 20% protein.

Learn more about protein here.

How about vitamin B12? Contrary to popular belief, small amounts of vitamin B12 are present in all fruits and vegetables. Raw bananas and dates are especially rich in B12. And even if you weren't eating enough B12, the body can produce and recycle its own B12 through the process of enterohepatic circulation, so it is nearly impossible to be deficient.

Note: Make sure you eat 2-6% or your calories from leafy greens. They are much richer in certain minerals and lipids than fruits are. Leafy greens are essential for good health.

Why Raw?

All nutritionists agree that cooking damages food. Here is a list of reasons why you should avoid cooked food:

  1. Cooking denatures proteins. Denatured proteins are very difficult for the body to digest.
  2. Cooking saturates fats. When this happens, the body cannot digest them, and they often end up clogging your arteries.
  3. Cooking carmelizes sugars. Carmelized sugars are a dangerous carcinogen that should be avoided.
  4. Cooking destroys vitamins and minerals. Almost all vitamins, and some minerals are damaged by cooking. Some people defend cooking because it makes lycopene and beta-carotine easier to digest. This is true, but cooking also destroys a significant amount of lycopene and beta-carotine so that overall, you are still digesting less.
  5. Every other creature on the planet eats their food raw. There are over 23,000 species of land animals on the planet, and out of all of them, we are the only one that cooks food
  6. Cooking confuses our taste buds. Cooking makes foods such as meat, grains, and legumes taste good that would not appeal to us raw. Cooking confuses us into eating these unhealthy foods.
  7. The body attacks cooked food. After eating a cooked meal, the white blood cell count in the body increases to four or five times the normal amount because the body thinks that the food is a dangerous pathogen (this is called leukocytosis). When we eat raw food on the other hand, this does not happen.
  8. Humans are not adapted to eat cooked food. Humans have only been eating cooked food for less than 50,000 years. This is not long enough for a significant evolutionary change to occur. On the other hand, humans have been eating raw food for millions of years, so we are well adapted for that.

Why Low-Fat?

Fats play an important role in the body. They transport and store fat-soluble vitamins, insulate the body, regulate the production of hormones, and much more. But it's important to realize that a little bit of fat goes a long way. If you eat too much fat, your body will struggle to uptake and transport oxygen to the billions of cells in your body. In the short term, this will cause foggy-headedness, indigestion, fatigue and mood swings, but in the long-term, this will lead to serious blood disorders and degenerative diseases.

This is why you should keep your fat consumption under 10% of total calories. Most fruits and vegetables already have a healthy amount of fat in them (fruits have around 5% and vegetables have around 15%). Others, such as avocados, olives, coconuts, nuts, and seeds have a higher amount of fat, and should only be eaten in very small quantities (if at all).

In nature, fat is very scarce. High fat fruits, nuts and seed, are only available for few months right before winter (september, october, november). Eating a low-fat diet is the most natural thing to do.

Sleep and Nutrition

We depend on sleep to regulate hormones, mood, energy levels, digestion, and more. When we don't get enough sleep, our body can not properly uptake and deliver the nutrients of the food that we eat. Sleeping is just as important for nutrition as our food choices.

I recommend getting at least 10 hours of sleep per night, and napping during the day. Learn more about how to improve your sleep in my other lense...

How to Sleep Better Naturally

Exercise and Nutrition

The human body evolved for millions of years to be active. Exercise increases blood flow and stimulates all the organs and glands in the body. Humans rely on physical movement for proper delivery of nutrients and for expelling of waste. Moreover, exercise allows us to eat more, and when we eat more, we consume more nutrients. Exercise is necessary for nutritional adequacy.

I recommend being moderately active everyday, and to do intensive physical activity (heart rate over 120) at least 3 times per week.

Sunlight and Nutrition

Getting enough sun is crucial for proper health and nutrition. Sunlight is the only way for the body to get enough vitamin D, an essential nutrient for metabolizing calcium. Moreover, UV rays from sunlight are the only reliable way to disinfect your skin of harmful bacteria and toxins. Sunlight also plays an important role in controlling mood, regulating hormones, and adjusting your body to its natural circadian rhythm.

I recommend exposing your full body to sunlight for at least 15 minutes every day (weather permitting of course). Moderate amounts of sun exposure will not cause burning, cancer, or other types of skin damage.

Tips for Getting Started

  1. Eat Enough Calories. In the beginning, you will need to make an effort eat enough calories on a frugivore diet. Most people are not accustomed to eating large quantities of fruit. As long as you eat enough calories, you will feel satiated and satisfied with the diet.
  2. Track What You Eat. This will help you to eat enough calories when you first start out. I recommend using the free program Cron-o-Meter.
  3. Buy Produce in Bulk. This will save you time and money in the long run. Grocery stores will give you a 10-15% discount if you buy produce by the case.
  4. Fully ripen your fruit. You will not properly digest fruit if it is not fully ripened. Ripe fruit will taste better and satisfy more. See my Fruit Ripening and Selection Guide
  5. Join a Frugivore Community. Check to see if you can find other frugivores that live near you. If there aren't any nearby, join 30 bananas a day, the online frugivore community.
  6. Use bananas and dates as staples. Bananas and dates are both inexpensive and high in calories.

The Best Frugivore Book

This book is absolutely essential if you're considering a frugivore diet. Dr. Douglas Graham is the authority on the subject. He's been eating a frugivore diet for 30 years and coaching athletes all over the world.

Online Resources

SquiDirectory - A categorized Squidoo directory featuring an interesting variety of different subjects ranging from arts and literature, shopping, and eco friendly tips, to vehicles for sale, travel, and everything in between.

Doug Graham talks about the frugivore diet

This is a fantastic video! If you have time, I recommend watching all the parts of this lecture.

Doug Graham on Empty Calories

If you're interested, check out the rest of his lecture youtube.

All feedback is appreciated!

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    • PhilVardy profile image

      PhilVardy 4 years ago

      Solid lens; definitely heading in the right direction here.. As a biology teacher, I see so many bad (misinformed) diet lenses and articles.... this one is much, much better than most. Well done! :)

    • profile image

      LadyDuck 4 years ago

      Great health tips, food, exercise and good sleep are all important elements.

    • mozartman profile image
      Author

      mozartman 4 years ago

      @bjj james: Hey bjj_james. I hear ya. This diet can be tough at first when you exercise a lot. The key is to eat enough calories. Focusing on calorie dense fruits like bananas, and making lots of smoothies definitely helps the transition. When I was exercising a lot, I would eat 4000-6000 calories per day of mostly fruit.

      Doug Graham originally developed this diet for athletes (including many olympic athletes), and those athletes have seen tremendous improvements in performance. So it can definitely work once you get used to it. Best of luck!

    • mozartman profile image
      Author

      mozartman 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hey Coselnuss! Sorry for the late reply, haha. I am on 30 BaD... http://www.30bananasaday.com/profile/DannyNelson. How about you? Are you in Southern California by any chance?

    • mozartman profile image
      Author

      mozartman 4 years ago

      @Miran74: glad you enjoyed it :)

    • mozartman profile image
      Author

      mozartman 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hey Dr. Harris. This is definitely a point worth looking into. This is one of the best articles I have read on this topic... http://www.raw-food-health.net/VitaminB12Deficienc... Also, I recommend the book "Could it Be B12?" if you want to read more about this topic. Let me know if you find any other useful info :)

      -Danny

    • mozartman profile image
      Author

      mozartman 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hey Scott, thanks for your comment! I completely agree. Cooking has been an essential part of the human diet for a hundreds of thousands of years. Humans are omnivorous creatures. We have adapted over millions of years to eat a wide variety of foods. There is no doubt about this.

      However, a ton of health problems have emerged since the neolithic revolution 10,000 years ago, and even more health problems since the industrial revolution (heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.). This shows us that just because we CAN eat certain foods does not mean those foods are what's best for our health. In other words, we seem to be more adapted to eat certain foods than other foods. Personally, I am most concerned with figuring out which foods we are MOST ADAPTED to, so that I can maximize health, and minimize sickness and disease.

      That being said, if you look at the evolution of the human diet, http://www.beyondveg.com/nicholson-w/hb/hb-intervi... you see that fruits and vegetables have formed the vast MAJORITY of our diet for the past 50 million years (until the neolithic revolution, when health started to go downhill). Even during the paleolithic era and the ice age, meat was never more than 50% of our diet. This means that we are MOST ADAPTED to eating fruits and vegetables, over any other food. Many recent studies (such as Dr. Campbell's China Study) and longevity cultures (such as Okinawans, Ikarians, Seventh Day Adventists etc.) have confirmed this.

      In summary... fruits and vegetables are food, and everything else is a condiment. We can argue about the exact formula of the "ideal diet," but no matter what, fruits and vegetables should always be the majority of your diet if you want good health. I hope this clarifies my point :).

      -Danny

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Can I get some sources for your paragraph on B12? I have seen nothing with the enterohepatic circulation and the B vitamins. I teach my patients a very similar way to this site but with very little meat/eggs etc. I am not interested in debate but mutual education. :)

    • mozartman profile image
      Author

      mozartman 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hey amy. Good question. Dates are controversial subject in the raw food world. Some people say they are a delicious, cheap high-calorie fruit that can be eaten as a staple. Others say that they are technically not "raw" because they grow in deserts where temperatures frequently go above 110 degrees. Many people experience problems when eating tons of dates, such as energy crashes, skin problems, and inability to feel "full." Personally, I don't enjoy that taste dates, and I don't like the way they make me feel. I recommend you experiment for yourself to find what works best. :)

      -Danny

    • mozartman profile image
      Author

      mozartman 4 years ago

      @anonymous: No, technically those foods are not part of the diet. The must be processed and cooked to be digestible, and they are very nutrient poor compared to fruits and veggies. However, if you cannot find enough high-quality fruit, grains and beans can be a good way to stretch calories.

    • mozartman profile image
      Author

      mozartman 4 years ago

      @Maricris17: Hay Maricris17, I definitely agree. Before I found this diet, I tried fasting once per week for health, and I felt absolutely horrible. Health should be enjoyable, not painful and restrictive.

    • mozartman profile image
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      mozartman 4 years ago

      @healthimage: Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it! :)

    • mozartman profile image
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      mozartman 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hey jillh10, this is a good question. From personal experience, I would not recommend eating too many raw vegetables other than leafy greens. Most (non leafy) vegetables have a high amount of cellulose which makes them difficult to digest without cooking. If you do eat other vegetables, I would definitely recommend steaming/cooking them first to break down the cellulose and make them easier to digest. Young, tender leafy greens are definitely the easiest to digest and have the most nutrients, but steamed vegetables can be a good alternative if you don't eat that many leafy greens. Hope this helps! :)

    • HowToStartAnOnl profile image

      HowToStartAnOnl 4 years ago

      Sunshine is important! Many people have a vitamin D deficiency!

    • MikeRobbers LM profile image

      MikeRobbers LM 4 years ago

      This diet sounds very healthy and fully accomplished.. Nice informative lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      what if i cook the veg and have it cold is that ok? Some of us find it very difficult to munch raw anything

    • profile image

      healthimage 4 years ago

      Great lens, loved all the info and have to agree that eating raw is a great health booster!

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 4 years ago from West Virginia

      The more fresh raw food that I include, the better I feel.

    • bjj james profile image

      bjj james 4 years ago

      Raw is so hard for me with my training program.

    • profile image

      lawrence55 4 years ago

      if we want to control our diet we should do proper exercise and taking health foods. Many people don't consider about their healthy life to live long life.

    • profile image

      Maricris17 5 years ago

      I wonder why some people consider skipping meals when they are in their âرجÙÙâ. This is the ideal diet. They must try this rather than starving their selves.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      and what about fresh beans, grain and rice if you could get your hands on them...are they still legumes & grains, or vegetables & seeds?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      are dry dates ok to consume a lot of? they are so sweet

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Cooking has been a fundamental part of our evolution for two million years. Homo habilis started cooking/fire making, Homo erectus and floresiensis resulted, on down to Homo neanderthalensis, sapiens, and sapiens ssp. sapiens.

      A varied omnivorous diet(animal products, seeds, starches, fruits, vegetation, - all in varying amounts per individual and time in one's life) with a substantial amount of all that being cooked is the fundamental world wide human diet as it has been throughout that time.

    • profile image

      Sundaycoffee 5 years ago

      This is so interesting! I have no doubt that 100% raw is the best and most healthy diet, even though I'm not yet ready to go that far. I was a bit worried about not getting enough B12 vitamin, but after reading your lens I'm confident that a vegan diet has no disadvantage whatsoever. Great info, thank you.

    • Miran74 profile image

      Miran74 5 years ago

      Great lens! Lots of usful information too. Thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      noelglass 5 years ago

      An excellent lense. I loved the idea of your table of contents and enjoyed reading this lense. This information is very useful for people suffering with hypoglycemia.

    • profile image

      noelglass 5 years ago

      An excellent lense. I loved the idea of your table of contents and enjoyed reading this lense. This information is very useful for people suffering with hypoglycemia.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Funny, I was just researching a bit how to sleep and there I end up with the 80/10/10 diet again! Are you on 30bananasaday?

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 6 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      nice

    • profile image

      ChaunyWrites 6 years ago

      Love this lens, I am a Vegan Vegetarian, and I try to eat mostly raw. When I do, I am at my best! Thank you for sharing this very important lens.

    • profile image

      totalhealth 6 years ago

      this is a very interesting lens. I like the information that you've presented

    • profile image

      fastdietplan 6 years ago

      Another intesting diet, thanks for sharing.

    • mozartman profile image
      Author

      mozartman 6 years ago

      @JavierMilian: Every single cell in your body relies on sugar for its source of fuel. Fat is only good in moderation (for maintenance, repair, etc.), not in large quantities as a source of fuel. Think of a car... fat is like the oil, natural carbs are like the gas. You need a little oil for lubrication and proper function, but you need a lot of gas to actually run the car.

    • profile image

      kanivel 6 years ago

      Very good lens! I have written more or less in the same line in my lense "How I got rid of asthma". Please read and comment it.

      http://www.squidoo.com/naturopathy-healing

    • JavierMilian profile image

      JavierMilian 6 years ago

      While I agree with eating raw and natural, I must say we are at adds when it comes to consumption of fat. Read my lens on Carb Cycling and tell me what you think. Great lens, I loved it.