Robert McFerran 8


The original Hunter-gatherers lived in the warm, temperate climates of central Africa. Their diet was decidedly animal based & was supplemented primarily with indigenous fruits. Recent Hunter-gatherers (those living during the last 100,000 years) were different. Lack of game forced their migration into relatively cold or arid climates. While the mainstay of their diet continued to be animals, fruit was not plentiful in their new homes. In many cases fruit was non-existent. These recent Hunter-gatherers became well adapted to root vegetables & other hearty, edible plants rather than fruit as their principal source of carbohydrate.

This might seem like a subtle difference but it is an important one. Those that have inherited a Hunter-gatherer metabolism today are usually pulling from a gene pool of more recent ancestors that lived in these cold/arid climates. A great number of Americans trace their genetic roots back to the cool climates of northern Europe. It is not surprising that they are well adapted to root vegetables & other wild, indigenous plants. At the same time they are poorly adapted to many fruits – especially those that can only be cultivated in temperate climates.



All organ meats (liver, kidney, tongue, tripe, brain, sweet breads, etc.) & all red meats from the following. Beef, lamb, venison, buffalo, bison & elk. Dark meats (thigh & leg) of chicken, turkey, duck, goose, Cornish hen, partridge, pheasant & quail. All crustaceans & dark coloured fishes includ lobster, scallop, shrimp, crab, conch, squid, octopus, abalone, anchovy, sardine, herring, dark tuna, swordfish, salmon, clam, caviar, crayfish & frog.(It is critical that meat, fish or poultry be eaten at EVERY meal.) Pound for pound these foods have the highest levels of purines needed to create energy in the Hunter-gatherer metabolism. You should also choose fattier cuts of muscle meats (i.e. rib steak) whenever possible. Liver or other organ meats should be eaten on a regular basis.

Our Hunter-gatherer ancestors ate the entire animal. The organ meats were always eaten first since they were the most accessible & easiest to butcher. The Core meat,  poultry or seafood are skewed on the side of dark meats to compensate for today’s anticipated lower consumption of these purine rich organ meats.

All light colored poultry & fish. Chicken & turkey (breast meat). Scrod, cod, sole, turbot, haddock, albacore tuna, catfish, perch, bass, carp, halibut, grouper, mackerel, mahi-mahi, monkfish, red snapper, sea bass, shark & sole.These foods have less of the needed purine & fat content making them a sub-optimal choice for the Hunter-gatherer metabolism. However, they do offer a better alternative than totally abstaining from fish, poultry or meat during a meal. If you plan to eat them these foods will be best tolerated with your evening meal. None All commercial ham, bacon & sausage.These food products are not whole foods since they contain many additives & preservatives including monosodium glutamate & sugar.


Walnut, filbert (hazelnut), chestnut, almond & pumpkin seedsNuts & seeds (as well as nut/seed butters) make an excellent snack for Hunter-gatherers. Nut butters can be spread on small pieces of fruit. Eat no more than one or two handfuls at a sitting & pay special attention to chewing them thoroughly. Do not eat nuts & seeds that have been roasted in peanut or corn oil. Trace amounts of other nuts, peanuts & seeds present in some nut butters are usually acceptable. None.




Cashew, brazil nuts, pistachio, hickory, litchi, macadamia, pecan, pignola (pine nuts), poppy seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds & tahini.There is a higher incidence of allergy associated with these foods. Many are indigenous to warm, temperate climates making them very new foods for most Hunter-gatherers. Cashews (like peanuts) are actually members of the legume family. Most can be eaten once or twice a month without problem. Peanut.
Olive oil (extra virgin & cold pressed are best), flaxseed, borage & primrose oil.Flaxseed, borage & primrose oil should not be used for cooking (see Supplements section). None.



Butter, safflower & canola.These fats can usually be consumed on occasion (once or twice a month) in condiment quantities with no problem. Corn, cottonseed, peanut, sesame & sunflower oil as well as all margarines.Margarine goes through the process of ‘hydrogenation’ to help increase its storage life. Any ‘hydrogenated’ foods have been chemically altered & can no longer be considered as a whole food.
Carrots, parsnips, celery, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, cauliflower, water cress, sea vegetables (including kelp, dulse, alaria, bladderwrack & laver), swiss chard & yellow (summer) squash, mushrooms, turnip & rutabaga.Root vegetables, sea vegetables & wild green leafy vegetables were probably the only source of carbohydrate used by our Hunter-gatherer ancestors. It is little surprise that we are very well adapted to them today. Spinach, asparagus, artichokes & cauliflower have the highest purine content among vegetables. Sea vegetables have high levels of iodine & other trace nutrients that are important for the Hunter-gatherer metabolism. All beans including aduke, azuki, black, broad, cannellini, fava, garbanzo, green, jicama, kidney, lima, navy, northern, pinto red, snap, string & white beans. All lentils & peas. Soybeans & all whole soy products (including tofu).Hunter-gatherers tend to be less well adapted to these new ‘foods of agriculture’ even though they possess a moderate purine content. There is a higher incidence of allergy with these foods (especially soy). If you over-eat them you’ll run a high risk of developing a new food allergy. These starchy vegetables are also a concentrated source of carbohydrate. Therefore they are best-eaten only occasionally (no more than once or twice a week) & in small quantities as an accompaniment with meat, poultry or seafood. Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, peppers, garlic, horseradish, onions, leeks, scallions, cabbage, broccoli, broccoli raabe, mustard greens, eggplant, brussel sprouts, bean sprouts, zucchini, spaghetti squash, kale, beets, sweet potato, yams & potato.Many of these foods will generate symptoms. Some can be used in verysmall amounts. An interesting note is that several of these foods are from the nightshade family. Many arthritics have already associated the ingestion of nightshade vegetables (tomato, potato, eggplant & peppers) with an increase in symptoms. Researchers have incorrectly suggested that this connection is due to the solanine (a poisonous chemical substance) content of these foods. I personally believe that the increase in arthritic symptoms is due to the adverse metabolic shift generated by these Avoid foods in the Hunter-gather metabolism. Check the blood type chart & eliminate any vegetables that are inappropriate for your specific blood type. (i.e. – if you have blood type O you should eliminate kidney beans, lentils, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mustard greens & potato).



Apple & pear.You should peel & core these fruits to minimize the impact of chemical pesticides if organic fruit cannot be found. Fruit should NEVER be used alone as a snack unless with a generous amount of nut butter. No more than ½ of a piece of fruit should be consumed, preferably at the end of a meal. Currant (not to be confused with raisin), cranberry, avocado & olive.Condiment quantities of currants & cranberries should only be eaten with meat containing meals.



Melons including watermelon, cantaloupe, musk melon, casaba, crenshaw, honeydew & spanish melon. Tropical fruit including orange, tangerine, tangelos, grapefruit, lemon, lime, kiwi, kumquat, starfruit, mangoes, coconut, banana, pomegranate, papaya & pineapple. Plums, nectarines, apricots, peaches, rhubarb, cherries, dates & grapes. Berries including blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, elderberries & gooseberries.Many of these foods will generate symptoms. Some can be eaten in small, condiment amounts at the end of a meal. None
EggsWhile eggs can be eaten on a regular basis they are not a substitute (due to their low purine content) for the meat, poultry or seafood which should be eaten with every meal. Only use organic, free range or fertilized eggs. None All cheeses made from cow or goat milk. Butter. Goat milk.Small amounts of cheese & butter can be used in condiment quantities with other Core & Supplemental foods. These ‘new foods’ should not be used on a regular basis. Milk, buttermilk & yogurt.Non-dairy acidophillus /lactobacillus supplements should be used instead of yogurt to assist in re-populating the colon with beneficial bacteria.


None None None All grains & grain alternatives incl wheat, corn, rice, barley, rye, oats, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, kamut, kasha, millet & spelt.
Mineral & sea salt.Salt should be minimally processed & a dirty white or gray color. Bright white sea salt should be avoided since it lacks naturally occurring trace minerals. Foods should be salted to taste. Marjoram, thyme, parsley & sage.Other herbs should be tested on an individual basis. Garlic, vinegar, mustard, ketchup, horseradish, black & white pepperYou may be able to tolerate small condiment amounts of the above. They should not however be eaten on a routine basis. None.
Spring, artesian or deep well water.Sample different spring waters available in your area. Taste varies with different waters from different sources. Once you become accustomed to high quality spring water you’ll be surprised at the taste difference with other types of water. Spring waters do not contain fluorine, an element added to tap water to battle tooth decay. Use fluoridated toothpaste instead. Filtered drinking water, mineral & sparkling waters. Distilled water & tap water. Caffeine-free tea & decaffeinated coffee.Distilled waters lack trace minerals & are often contaminated with metals from the distillation process. Many find they are sensitive to the bacteria-killing chlorine found in most tap waters. Decaffeinated coffees can contain up to 1/3rd the amount of caffeine as regular coffees. Caffeine-free teas are a safer option. All fruit & vegetable juices as well as soft drinks.


Typical Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner for Hunter-Gatherers

  • Breakfast: Chicken thigh with skin on. Two stalks of celery (salted).
  • Mid-morning Snack: 1/2 piece of apple or pear covered with appropriate nut butter.
  • Lunch: Beef liver & sliced parsnips (both sautéed in olive oil). 1 egg (fried or scrambled in olive oil.
  • Mid-afternoon Snack: One cup of meat or poultry stock.
  • Dinner: Roasted lamb chops with steamed asparagus covered with olive oil.

The Hunter-gatherer diet is the epitome of simplicity. The main dish for Hunter-gatherers is their meat/poultry/fish. Vegetables take on a supplemental role. The vegetables can be eaten steamed, sautéed, roasted or raw. Meats can be prepared by roasting or sautéing in oils. Hearty soups & stews make excellent meals since they capture the purine rich meat drippings. Microwaving should not be used for cooking but reserved only for re-heating meals.

One familiar problem facing individuals moving to the Hunter-gatherer diet is the continued ingestion of too much carbohydrate. Excessive carbohydrate consumption over-stimulates insulin production in the Hunter-gatherer metabolism. Sugar cravings & fatigue are the usual symptoms as blood glucose levels tumble following a meal. In essence this hypoglycemic ‘bonk’ is tied to the carbohydrate level of your last meal. Experiment with reducing carbohydrate while increasing the fat/oil content of your meals to find the appropriate balance.

While carbohydrate intake should be limited, a meal should not consist exclusively of meat/fish/poultry. It is important that a bit of carbohydrate (either fruit or vegetable) be eaten with each meal for optimal energy production.

Cholesterol is a critical component in the Hunter-gatherer diet. While nutritional ‘experts’ have roundly vilified cholesterol they fail to note that this nutrient is the essential building block in the synthesis of a number of key hormones including cortisone — our most important ‘anti-stress’ hormone. Hunter-gatherers should endeavor to keep their total cholesterol levels above 185 ml/dl. Total cholesterol levels below 165 are signs of dietary cholesterol deficiency.

Weather plays a significant role in the metabolic needs of Hunter-gatherers. Dr. Watson noted that the Hunter-gatherer metabolism would become more extreme during very cold or very hot conditions. At these times carbohydrates should be even further restricted while increasing fat/purine intake. The opposite phenomenon is seen during periods of mild weather. Hunter-gatherers tolerate higher levels of carbohydrate & seem to need less meat/poultry/fish when temperatures moderate.

These metabolic variances highlight the degree to which our metabolic needs are genetically programmed by thousands of years of adaptation. Hunter-gatherers faced with long cold winters or hot, arid droughts would by necessity have limited access to vegetation. Moderate temperatures coincided with more abundant availability of plant foods. Temperature changes would signal our ancestor’s metabolism to make the proper adaptive response. Hunter-gatherers carry that same metabolic response to temperature extremes to this very day.


Supplements should never be taken until after the individual’s acid/alkaline BioProfile has been well defined over a minimal period of 30 days. In the event these supplements cannot be tolerated, they should not be taken.

All minerals should be “chelated”. Iodine will likely not be found in chelated form. Kelp is commonly the supplemental form for iodine. Insofar as the dosages listed above are concerned, the “elemental” quantity specified on the bottle’s label and not the chelated amount constitute a “Full Dose”. Hence if (for example) the label lists that each tablet contains 100 mgs of zinc chelate which in turn contains 10 mgs of elemental zinc, one tablet will satisfy the requirements listed here.

A full dose may be taken after breakfast and again after lunch.

These dosages are appropriate for an individual whose weight ranges from 120 to 200 pounds. Individuals weighing less than 120 pounds should take only half the dosages listed here, while individuals weighing more than 200 pounds should take 1.5 times the dosages listed here.

A full dose of vitamins is defined as follows:


Full Dose
Full Dose
A (palmitate)
10,000 lUs
500 mgs
E (mixed tocopherols)
400 lUs
250 mgs
100 mcgs
Iodine (from natural source)
0.15 mgs
100 mgs
10 mgs
Pantothenic Acid or Calcium Pantothenate
100 mgs
250 mgs

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