Human Vs. Animal Teeth: What Our Teeth are Designed to Do!

Meat: it’s what’s for dinner. It’s hard to find an American dinner table without a big slab of animal as its centerpiece. This is what makes us behavioral omnivores – it’s part of our culture, civilization and food pyramid to eat a so-called “balanced” diet of animal protein, grains, fruits and vegetables.

But roughly 10,000 years ago, humanity witnessed an incredible turning point. Instead of foraging around the fields and forests in search of food, we learned to grow our own. And along with farming came the idea of animal domestication, and the notion that instead of hunting and tracking animals, one could raise them from birth and slaughter them whenever we got hungry.

Fast-forward a bit and here we are in the present buying shrink-wrapped chicken thighs by the pound, incorporating them into most every meal.

So while we may be behavioral omnivores, the consensus among anthropologists and archaeologists is that we aren’t physiological omnivores. Until we made that pivotal shift from nomad to farmer, between 90 and 98 percent of our diets came from the local flora, not fauna.

Researchers took a long hard look at the human body and its functions to come to this conclusion; it’s not just propaganda of the veggie camp. And some of the most telltale signs are from our teeth.

Look at the layout of a carnivore’s mouth. A wolf or a shark has a huge bite “footprint” – that is, they can bite deeply into something with the entirety of their jaws to grip and rip as much flesh as possible. Their teeth are also spaced apart from one another along the inner jaw line and each one comes to a pointy, spear-like tip.

Compare that dental arrangement with vegetarian animals like monkeys or horses who both have smaller mouths (relative to their head and jaw sizes). They also have teeth that are very close together arranged into neat, uniform rows. They mash their food around from side to side, concentrating more on chewing than biting… just like we do. Hmmm….

“Hold on just a second!” you’re thinking. “What about our ‘canine’ teeth?”

First of all, we only have four canines and 28 other teeth of other types, so already this isn’t a strong point to argue from. But in terms of usage, we see our closest primate cousins use their canines for chipping bark, piercing fruit and grooming. They also play a role in mate selection, dominance and display, as primates tend to bite down bare their teeth to each other as an intimidation tactic (just like how walruses use them – and people too, when they get really mad!).

Lastly, for one last animal analogy, I point you to the hippopotamus – an animal with huge, menacing teeth that subsists entirely on grass.

When it comes to humans eating meat, when it was on the menu, it was almost always scavenged, not hunted. I’ll be going into more detail about our ancestral, optimal diets in future posts, and share some more interesting evidence that supports the fact that humans are designed to eat things that grow out of the ground, not scurry around on top of it. Stay tuned!

Dr. Dave

What food would a wild human eat? The answer may surprise you!

As a civilization, our go-to sustenance is hardly static or predictable. One only needs to check out the local cuisine of a foreign country to realize that. So rather than trying to answer this question by assessing the infinite number of foods our ancestors ate just to avoid starvation, I think it’s most pertinent to give our attention to what we are best at eating. That is, which foods are easy to obtain and digest, give us good health and ample energy, and have relative low risks or side effects?

Last week, I went into some detail regarding human teeth, and what types of foods they are best suited for. (Spoiler: it’s not meat!) This week, I’m moving the microscope over to other parts of the human body that suggest that humans aren’t cut out to be the carnivorous type.

Our muscles.

Even Usain Bolt wouldn’t be able to keep pace with the average gazelle for a second. How could we have a predisposition for meat if we never caught it? Spears and other weapons didn’t roll around until about 60,000 BCE – pretty recently in our species’ story.

By the time we started walking upright and proliferated from the jungles to the grasslands (about 1.5 million years ago, give or take), we entered into a competitive food chain that was way out of our league. We couldn’t contend with the agile predators of the plains, animals that were evolutionary veterans of chasing, hunting and killing. Our bodies frail, our gaits tipsy and our top speeds laughable, the potential prey was too strong, too fast or too sturdy for our kind to even think about killing. We also have flat, small mouths instead of fierce jaws and weak, pink fingernails instead of claws…. Good luck bringing down a wildebeest or an impala with only those tools!

Wild Human

As undignified as it was, early human tribes got most of their calories through scavenging. Just as we picked berries and nuts, so too did we grab a chunk of zebra steak after the lions had had their fill. We weren’t picky; if there was meat we would eat it, but we definitely didn’t have the capability to actively pursue it. When it came to the wily speed demons of the savannah, all we were eating was their dust.

Our taste buds.

If you’re a meat lover, you’re probably scoffing. Well my carnivorous friend, I contend that you have only been socialized to love meat. You don’t love meat the same way a tiger shark or a cougar love it.

When a predator makes a kill, the first thing it does is tear open the stomach area and chest cavity and dine on all the nutrient-rich organs inside. Things like the liver, kidneys and heart have all sorts of vitamins that muscle meat doesn’t have – this is how lions and tigers and bears can get away with not eating their vegetables. If a blood-logged, veiny organ doesn’t whet your appetite, but a sanitized, flame-charred steak on a plate, seasoned with peppercorn, sugar and tomato-based steak sauces, chili powder, citruses, and an endless list of other plant-based fixins does make you hungry, I have bad news for you: you might not naturally be a carnivore.

I could go on and on.

Our hearts struggle when we eat too much red meat, culminating in heart disease.

Our digestive tracks are extremely long and sensitive, as is the norm of an herbivorous animal.

Our stomach acid is less than 5% as strong as that of the typical carnivorous animal, meaning we don’t have the enzymes to quickly break down huge feasts of meat as most predators do.

Just some food for thought on the whole vegan thing!

Until next time!

Dr. Dave

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FLAX SEED – How I “super-seeded” my diet!

The diet of the average American just plain sucks. As a nation, we eat wayyy too much sodium, sugar, and processed foods, and our food in general just isn’t as varied or as nutritious as it used to be.

I could go on and on about our skyrocketing obesity rates, nutrient-barren food and ghastly food industry, but I’m sure you get the gist. This blog post is about looking forward, not backward.

I consider myself a pretty healthy eater – I’m gluten-free and just a few short months ago I became vegan. Recently, I stumbled upon the incredible nutritional power of flax seeds. About the size of a grain of rice, these brownish-yellow seeds can be bought in bulk at almost any natural grocery store or health food store.

What’s so great about these little guys? Well, if nature made a health supplement, it would be flax seeds. Flax seed shells have an abundance of lignans, chemical compounds that basically super charge the human body. The lignans in flax seeds…

  • …boost the immune system, making your body more resilient against disease and infection.
  • …pack a whopping 2.8 grams of fiber per tablespoon, which helps in digestion and lowering cholesterol.
  • …have powerful antioxidants that help keep your cells functioning properly and help you look and feel young. (We suffer age-related problems because our cells get worse at replicating as time goes on – antioxidants counteract this decay.)

In addition to this, cutting edge researchers are publishing scientific papers that suggest that flax seed might actually have cancer-fighting properties. Pretty exciting stuff.


The body most easily absorbs all the nutrients flax seeds have to offer if you pulverize them first. This honestly isn’t all that difficult to do – I personally use a NutriBullet blender, though I have heard a coffee grinder works well, too.

The fine seed powder can be mixed into almost anything. Add it to your marinades, put it in smoothies, even bake it into cookies. The seeds have a very subtle, almost non-existent flavor and the texture is pleasant and complimentary to everything I’ve tried them in.

Flax seed oil, though similar sounding, has a completely different health benefit. The oil doesn’t have the antioxidants and lignans that the seeds themselves offer, but it does contain huge amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which improve the function of brain cells, keep the blood healthy and clotting properly, and prevent heart attacks and strokes. Most Americans aren’t getting nearly enough omega-3s.

I recommend buying a bottle of cold-pressed flax seed oil and gulping down one or two tablespoons per day. Consider it part of your daily health routine.

Superfoods like flax can’t help you if you don’t eat them. That’s why I was so drawn to flax initially – it’s easy to sneak flax seeds into almost any recipe, and the oil can be taken quickly out of a spoon, cough syrup-style.

If you have any questions or comments about flax seed or flax oil, I’m all ears! Let me know what you’re thinking in the comments below.


The Two BIG Mistakes That We Non-Asians are Making in The Sushi Restaurant!

David MadowI am not Asian and I do not claim to be a Japanese food expert. But having traveled to Japan many times and being together with my Japanese wife Yoko for ten years now, I have learned an awful lot about Japanese protocol and customs, one of them being how to properly eat the delicious food.

When I go to a sushi restaurant in the US, I consistently see two major mistakes that we non-Asians are making which I am sure gives the sushi chef the chills! I plan to make a little video soon, but for now, just reading this short article should help you.

Mistake #1: Holding the chopsticks way too low! Take a look at non-Asians in a Japanese or even a Chinese restaurant. Almost every one of us holds the chopsticks anywhere from the halfway point down to the tips.

To picture what I am saying, let’s just imagine holding a pencil or a pen. The normal way to write is to hold the pen very close to the ball point. That is fine with a pen, but not with chopsticks. It is a total giveaway that we are hacks!

Try holding the chopsticks as FAR from the bottom as possible. This means that your fingers are way high up, just about at the very top. I equate it to holding the pencil very close to the eraser. It may feel awkward at first but after a very short amount of practice, you will feel that this way gives you much more control! Just watch an Asian person in a restaurant next time and you will see what I mean.

Mistake #2: Pouring way too much soy sauce in the little dish. I actually cringe when I see this. We use the soy dish almost like it’s a little “soup dish!” Sushi should not be “dunked” in soy sauce! The proper way is to place a very small amount of soy in the little dish. Maybe about a teaspoon or less. The amount you put in the dish should not even cover the entire bottom of the dish!

Now, instead of soaking your sushi in soy soup, simply a quick little dip will do. My wife even blots it off on a clean plate so there is VERY LITTLE soy on the rice and fish. This way, you will have a little taste of the soy, but a bigger taste of the wonderful fish and rice that you are supposed to be appreciating.

One more thing… if you are using the soy as described above, it is better to use the regular soy sauce as opposed to the low sodium. It will taste better and believe me, you are using so little now that you will be getting much less sodium than you originally were with your previous “low sodium soy soup!”

Enjoy!  Dave

P.S. To live healthier, please check out my podcast, “Slice Your Age in Half” at