Protein, carbohydrates, and fats are known as macronutrients—nutrients required in the highest amounts—and the human body requires all three of these. Proteins supply energy, as well as provide the structural components necessary for growth and repair of tissue. Carbohydrates and fats function to supply energy.
Protein, along with carbohydrates and fat, is an essential macronutrient and is the basic building material of the body. The body needs protein and the amino acids from which it is made to build muscles. Unless you get enough protein, your body cannot build new cells and tissue. Enzymes, antibodies, and hormones are made primarily of protein.
Protein also increases stamina and fuels most of the biochemical activities of the body—building muscle strength and supporting the immune system. Animal sources are the best suppliers of protein. Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, and milk are called complete proteins because they supply all the essential amino acids. Vegetables and fruits are called incomplete proteins because they do not supply all of the essential amino acids.
Protein: The primitive diet vs. the modern diet
Protein composed a larger part of the primitive diet than of the modern diet. Comparatively, the modern diet is about 15 percent protein, but the primitive diet was about 30 to 40 percent protein.
Our primitive ancestors got most of their protein from meat, fish, and cultured (or fermented) dairy products. The meat was considerably healthier than today’s farm-raised meat—as it was leaner and contained healthier fat. The wild fish and game that our ancestors ate was organic in every sense of the word. Most of the dairy they consumed was raw and cultured, and therefore rich in probiotics and enzymes. It came from goats or sheep that grazed on rich pasture land and was much more nutritious than milk from modern cows.
Red meat is also a great source of protein—and is full of zinc, magnesium, and vitamins B and D. By eating grass-fed beef, buffalo, lamb, and venison, you can eat a diet similar to the primitive diet, as grass-fed animals have similar lipid profile to that of wild game. The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fat in wild game is 1 to 3.5 or 4. By comparison, the ratio of omega-3 fat to omega-6 fat in grain-fed beef is about 1 to 20.
The fish and meat that our ancestors ate was superior to ours in that it was free of antibiotics and steroids. Recommended meats include buffalo, lamb, and venison and free-range or pastured chicken and poultry. Free-range chickens have a natural diet of grass, grass seeds, and insects. The meat from these chickens, as well as their eggs, is rich in omega-3 instead of omega-6 fatty acids.
Next time, we will look at the topic of healthy carbohydrates—another macronutrient.