What on Earth is Food, Anyway? A Fresh Take on Human Diet

Dao pic3

Dao Earl

“You only need to do something as stupid as a detox because you’re eating stupid things,” the nutritional researcher Dao Earl told me in an interview for The Eternities podcast.

Dao is co-founder of Sura Detox, a retreat centre in Devon on the south coast of England. “I was troubled for a long time in bringing people into the retreats. They go through this fantastic process [then] go back out into the world and do exactly the same things and come back next year. The retreats allow me to nail home this nutritional information. It’s about making conscious eaters.”

I thought I knew a fair amount about diet and nutrition until I attended one of Dao’s public talks. I was quickly engrossed, the whole room united – all of us sinners – but I felt inspired rather than shamed. We didn’t know any better – until now. Effectively our taste has been corrupted from a finely tuned sensory apparatus and commandeered for use in a pleasure circuit, blurring its capacity for determining the most applicable nutrients.

“Instead of using our taste to define what we are eating, we use taste to define what we’re eating,” said Dao. “It’s a subtle difference in the words, but it’s a profound difference biologically. We are now just flavouring foods to please our palate.”

He sums up his current message as, “Do what you can rather than do what you can’t”, an approach honed over many years of nutritional coaching, his zealotry long purged. There is no need for a fundamentalist attitude, to learn arcane rules, arbitrary guides or suffer sad prohibitions. And, yet, the ideal diet he proposes is one radically different to how the vast majority of us presently nourish, unfortunately coralled as we are between entrenched positions from aged research, vested interests and the false diversity of the supermarket.

Our biology is fundamentally the same as the bonobo chimpanzee, he points out, and all of the great apes eat, predominantly – though not exclusively – fruit. Dao contrasts the 120 million year evolution of great ape ancestry in tropical forests with the relative blip of 100,000 years of human evolution spent beyond. Backed by scientific research from disparate fields, the conclusion is clear. But, as Dao points out, to improve our diet, as ever, we should attempt what we can, not what we can’t.

For a primer to Dao’s nutritional perspective, listen to his interview with The Eternities podcast.

To learn more about his retreats, visit the website of Sura Detox, where you can also sample Dao’s archive of articles and video lectures.

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  • Haystack

    Expensive new-agey retreats don’t detoxify the body. Shitting does.

    • Juan

      Sweating, pissing and puking will too.

      • Anarchy Pony

        Of course to guarantee it, you have to avoid adding more toxins to the body.

    • Yūgen

      Why boil it down to just a new age scam? Is it really that unreasonable to suggest that humanity has messed itself up by flooding the most complex and sensitive organs/nervous system with processed “food” filled with toxins, GMOs, steroids, and thousands of other nasty things, and is in need some some internal cleansing?

      Not many people are going to just shit their way into great health.

      • Haystack

        That’s not unreasonable at all…but what are these toxins, specifically, and how does Dao Earl know that he can remove them? Details like these are suspiciously absent from his website.

        Clicking the “detox treatments” button on his website brings up a long list of expensive massages, aromatherapy, reflexology, and…an astrology consultation. Not exactly the cutting edge of medical science.

        That’s not to say that relaxation doesn’t have health benefits–it surely does–but nature walks and art workshops haven’t been shown to remove dangerous chemicals from the body. He’s got some fruit drinks and such too, but if you look at his site, it’s pretty clear that what he’s really doing is marketing a vacation package to the sickly and neurotic.

        I could respect it, if he was just being honest about what he has to offer.

        • Elizabeth Rene Thompson

          google detox and you can try it at home youll see what happens and the toxic crap that comes out of your body.

          • Ted Heistman

            The Poop detox is a scam. You eat all these high fiber herbs and it makes you shit ropey looking shit. The wierd looking shit is supposed to be from “toxins” but really it looks weird from the herbs and psylium seed and whatever.

          • Dao Earl

            I agree Ted, whereas there is nothing new-agey or fabby about fasting – its been used for 1000s years but virtually all traditions as a means of clearing both the body and the mind. Nothing like 1000s years of experimentation to turn something into a science.
            Psyllium, used in the traditional context (while fasting – without herbs) simply secures the body eliminations in the bowel until they are expelled, so that the bowel does reabsorb them (as is its tendency, obviously). It is just a way of making the fasting process more efficient. We use colonics for the same purpose – to aid expulsion, so as to aid elimination. Hope you can get that.
            using psyllium outside of this context has given it a bad name. As it has with colonics.

        • Yūgen

          “..but what are these toxins, ”

          Look at the ingredients of virtually any major food people eat these days, and realize that this is only a glimpse of what is actually in there.

          • Haystack

            Maybe so, if he can’t name them, then I don’t trust him to know how to remove them.

          • Yūgen

            Its a short interview and they actually don’t talk about detoxing that much, so its no surprise that its a general summary and not intended to be some kind of peer reviewed paper highlighting each detail. He does actually go into detail several things that are detrimental, however.

          • http://singedrac.livejournal.com Singe

            “Look at the ingredients of virtually any major food people eat”

            Like dihydrogen monoxide! Scary sounding stuff!

      • Rhoid Rager

        Of course shitting isn’t always healthy. You could be mercilessly shitting because you have dysentery. But, my god, shitting one’s way to health is quite a fantasy…what dreams may come!

  • Rhoid Rager

    I’d rather do Ayahuasca.

    • lovecraft

      I’ve done plenty of ayahuasca but even medicines like that are no solution when your still choosing to build your brain and nervous system out of utter trash instead of the biochemistry that was present for tens of millions of years. Its best to combine methods. People who take aya every few months and then go back to eating utter shit in between that cleanse are just yo-yo’ing, in some ways.

    • Juan

      Me too.

    • Yūgen

      I love ayahuasca but it works WAY better when you start cleaning yourself out. If you just drink ayahuasca every month and then go back to shitty eating habits in between, it just defeats the purpose in some ways.

  • Jules

    He looks ill. I wonder how old he is?

    • Rhoid Rager

      He’s probably like 103 or something. Then the jokes on us, eh?

      • Jules

        lol – but he could be 26! and he’s got grey hair!
        Seriously though, it would be interesting to see long term scientific studies of generations of fruitarians (even vegans). Until that happens I’m going to be sticking to the low carb diet. A lot of people on that diet actually look really healthy.

  • emperorreagan

    What the hell is pre-TaiChi? Is it watching an old Tai Chi video together?

    • Dao Earl

      Pre TaiChi, is a westernised phrase to describe practices like the BarDanJing (eight piece of Brocade) – warm up exercise that help the flow of blood.

      • emperorreagan

        Why wouldn’t you call it Qigong, then? Qigong is a stand alone practice that both predates and informs Tai Chi. The practice of Tai Chi is not necessarily something that follows from Qigong.

        Or, if you’re practicing one of the traditional schools of Tai Chi then why wouldn’t you refer to that school? Qigong techniques are integral to Tai Chi, not something you do as a precursor to taking a Tai Chi class.

        Calling something pre-TaiChi is confusing terminology.

        • Dao Earl

          Only confusing for those that know the lineage you describe (as I do), but we re dealing with folk that will not have heard of ChiGong, so it is just a hook for them to get a sense of how it will feel.
          Plus I run my business without micromanagement into my team member’s areas – thus, as long as our actual guests get the experience they are looking for (and some), then I am not concerned with semantics.

  • Matt Schroeder

    Ever notice that people who frequent health food stores and attend these seminars religiously are the most unhealthy looking folks on the street? Take a look at Mr. Earl’s picture. Was that him playing drums in the “touch of grey” music video? He will survive… Barely it seems.

    • Yūgen

      Sounds like your just projecting a bit, no? …confusing his unique facial features and expression for somehow being a detrimental result of what he eats (which seems ridiculously unlikely).

      I know plenty of good looking women who eat garbage all day…btw

      Judge it on the content mate ;)

  • Ted Heistman

    I can’t eat an all fruit diet, I tried. I have syndrome x and an all fruit diet is too high in sugar and too low in protein, I get sick and start developing symptoms of pre-diabetes, like really serious ones like peripheral neuropathy and cloudy urine. I get tired and piss all the time. Fuck Monkey food!

    seriously Though if an all fruit diet works for you more power too you. Fruit is delicious!

    • Yūgen

      Howdy Ted.

      He’s actually not recommending an all-fruit diet. Even if a fruit-only diet is what your aiming for (which does work for a bunch of people, but personally there is tons of other plants I think are useful), going from ones typical to a fruit-only diet is difficult for some people and should be done very very gradually. Some can get away with a quick switch, but not everyone.

      You actually mentioned this in the Tony Wright article by this interviewer a while back. You might find it interesting that the interviewer actually mentions your comment in the current interview with Dao, andasks him what he thinks about that sort of thing.He explains this somewhat around 30:25.

      Cheers

      • Ted Heistman

        I’m Famous?