And in a culture in which some men in recent years have retreated to the wilds to discover their masculinity in its primal forms, perhaps it was only a matter of time before someone invented the caveman diet.
Correspondent Peter Van Sant reports.
Ray Audette fancies himself as a modern-day caveman. He even has photos of himself in loin cloth attire. And as the author of a book, Neanderthin, he claims people should eat as their ancestors did in the good old days, say, 10,000 years ago.
"You're designed to eat what's possible to eat in nature," says Audette. "That is, without technological intervention."
"Meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and berries, all of which are edible raw - just like (what) other primates eat in nature," he says.
The heart of the Neanderthin diet, though, is good old-fashioned flesh - animal protein, meat - and not just meat but fat, lots of it, beginning at breakfast.
For the last 15 years, Audette, who lives in Dallas, has put away a pound of bacon for his breakfast every morning.
"The other thing that they've found in studies is that people that eat the most fat, weigh the least," he asserts. The more fat you eat, "the thinner you will be," he says.
Like other diet gurus, Audette as developed his list of foods to avoid.
"On the don't-eat list we have grains, beans, potatoes, milk and sugar," he explains. "None of those (are) edible to any species of primate in nature."
It takes some hunting, but Audette's book can be found in some diet sections. "Of course it's surrounded by all the other low-carbohydrate books that are out," he observes.
Audette started eating like a caveman 15 years ago after being diagnosed with diabetes, he says. "I quickly realized that grains, beans, potatoes, milk and sugar would not be edible to me," he says.
"After I stopped eating them, my blood sugar went normal within the week," Audette claims. "I'd also been suffering from rheumatoid arthritis for about a dozen years before that. It went away and never came back."
Audette hunts in the wilds of Dallas, but does most of his gathering at the supermarket.
He does not consider bread to be proper sustenance. The same goes for milk.
"When you don't eat fat, your hunger never goes away," he asserts. "As fat consumption has gone down in the United States, and this is very well documented, weight has gone up."
So if you want to be less fat, eat more fat, he argues.
His guidelines are in direct contrast to what many have been told their entire lives.
The Neanderthin diet is considered rather Neanderthal by some dieticians, who call it a primitive, artery-clogging mistake.
"It is a dangerous diet that's going to kill a lot of people," says Dr. Dean Ornish, who has written a diet book of his own. "There's no doubt in my mind," he says. "That's what the scientific data show."
Dr. Ornish advocates a low-fat, vegetarian diet. "I'd like to be able to be able to tell people that eating steak and cheeseburgers and pork rinds are health foods, but they're not," he says. "The evidence shows those are the foods that cause people to get heart disease and cancer and age prematurely."
Not only has Ornish's low-fat diet reversed heart disease in some patients, he's using it to treat cancer patients, he says. "This is the way you eat if you want to stay healthy. If you want to be tired, lethargic, depressed and imotent, then you eat a high meat-based diet."
Audette is undeterred. He claims Neanderthin isn't part of the problem; it's a solution. His wife is on it, and his young son Grayson Audette follows the Neanderthin diet, too.
"My son has never had milk," boasts the elder Audette. "Except his mother's."
"And when he was teething, he liked pork rinds," Audette says laughing.
Audette may eat like a caveman, but with 15,000 copies of Neanderthin in print, he's thinking like a modern American.
Recently, Audette went to check out the competition. Standing in a bookstore, amid the shelves of bestselling diet tomes, he notes a distinction: "The...difference between me and the rest of these books is that of all these authors, I'm the only one that's not a millionaire."
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