Gluten free grains and preparation
However, most of Afrika consist of farming or agricultural societies and we find their diets are typically anti-Paleo (we never lived in caves, huh). Many regions of Afrika rely on grains as their dietary staple, most often sorghum, maize, or millet. But the Western dietary grains, Afrikan grains are gluten-free. We should note that traditional Afrika has avoided the obesity, heart disease, and diabetes that plagues other grain-based society.
The reasons—it's all in the preparation. The preparation methods, include soaking and fermenting. Almost invariably, Afrikans go through extensive preparations before consuming grains, and this has a huge impact on nutrient availability and digestibility. These methods reduces the amount of tannins and phytic acid present, thus increasing the availability of protein, iron, other minerals, and overall calories. Studies have shown that fermentation of millet completely eliminates phytic acid and amylase inhibitors, markedly reduces those components in sorghum.
Appreciation for healthy fats
For many Afrikan communities whose diet is largely plant-based, dairy is an important source of fat-soluble vitamins and other nutrients that are difficult to get elsewhere. Those societies that consume milk usually ferment it making it easier to extract the butterfat, which is then turned into ghee. In the Sudan, the milk loses its value once the butterfat is extracted, and the remaining fermented skim milk is often fed to the animals or simply discarded.
In West Africa, Red palm oil is a staple fat source. The oil contains a high proportion of saturated fat, as well as vitamin E, beta-carotene, and other antioxidants. The habit of consuming red palm oil or other fats with stews and other meals aids the absorption of nutrients. Hence, through the eating of fermented dairy products and red palm oil, Afrikan diets provide healthy fats.
Dietary fiber is important for cultivating healthy gut bacteria. And Afrikan diets are generally high-fiber diets. One 2010 study compared the intestinal flora of two groups of children – one from Burkina Faso, and the other from Italy – and concluded that the diet of the African children resulted in a richer and more diverse population of intestinal flora. The diet of the Afrikan children consisted primarily of millet, sorghum, black-eyed peas, vegetables, fruit (mango and papaya), shea butter, occasional chicken or termites, and breast milk for those aged 2 or younger. The Italian children ate the ‘typical Western diet.’
Furthermore, researchers found that the ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes was significantly different between the two groups. The European children had about 50% Firmicutes and 25% Bacteroidetes, while the Afrikan children had about 12% and 75%, respectively. This is significant because the ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes is believed by some researchers to be a risk factor for obesity. Moreover, the bacteria of the Afrikan children adapted to their high-fiber diet. There gut flora was more able to digest the polysaccharides and cellulose from their plant-heavy diet. Such adaptation enables the Afrikan children to extract optimal nutrition from their diet.
Though Afrikan diets different based on geography and cultural formation (whether hunters, herders, or farmers), a common thread exist in Afrikan traditional diets. They use gluten-free grains that are prepared via fermentation or simple soaking, their foods provide good gut flora, and their foods provide healthy fats.
Almost invariably, Afrikans go through extensive preparations before consuming grains, and this has a huge impact on nutrient availability and digestibility. The problem with the contemporary Afrikan diet has less to do with diet and more to do with resource exploitation, poor political planning, and a lack of Afrikan researchers using a non-Western paradigm. True there are areas where dietary deficiencies exist, and there is a need for improvements, but adopting the Western diet is clearly not the solution.
While the West, on the one hand, calls itself addressing Micronutrient Deficiencies (MND) in Afrika, we see the most recent studies demonstrate that the traditional Afrikan diet is more than adequate. There is an organization called the Ancestral Health Society that studies and reports about human health from an evolutionary perspective, in order to develop solutions to modern health challenges. Many of the practices that proponents of the Ancestral Health Society or "movement" is trying to re-introduce into the West have never went out of style in Afrika. In seems that what Pauwels and Bergier said regarding modern science and discovery may hold true for nutritional science as well. They stated that "farther we go back into the origins of the world, and the more closely we study primitive peoples, the more often we discover that their traditional secrets coincide with the present state of scientific research.” The traditional Afrikan diet despite its naysayers may in fact be the diet of the future. We as Afrikan people should make sure it is our diet of the future--in other words we must fight to retain it.