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February 18, 2011


Gael in Vermont

This is an amazing story! Usually the evidence is found in testing animals first; this time the tables have been turned. I'm so happy these two fine gorillas are thriving on a plant strong diet. They don't know how lucky they are! I hope other zoos and animal habitats follow their lead.


The opportunity to exercise should really follow. I remember seeing Willie B. at the Atlanta Zoo when I was a child. He was in a concrete cage and had a black and white TV for entertainment. Decades later, the last time I saw him, he was in a natural habitat with other gorillas. It was a life-changing event for him and enabled him to enjoy his later years. And for visitors, it was much more enjoyable to see the group interaction. I felt so sorry for him when he was caged and all alone.

On another topic, can you tell us why drinking alcoholic beverages increases HDL values?

Healthy Librarian


Exercise is the next change for the gorillas, according to the video. Not positive, but I think they already live in a natural habitat setting.

Re alcohol and HDLs, the effect is modest when drinking normal safe amounts of alcohol--side note (don't recall the source) apparently, alcoholics can have high HDLs, so you know that's no way to rely on raising your HDLs. The advice is to raise HDLs through exercise rather than alcohol. The most recent research advises very small amounts of alcohol for women because it increases the risk of breast cancer.

Healthy Librarian

Hey CB, serendipitously just spotted some calculations about wine that a scientist reader came up with--based on looking at a number of studies--and calculating the "Sweet Spot" where wine has benefits and no adverse effects.

Here's what he came up with:

Women: 1.6907 fluid of ounces of wine a day

Men: 2.36 fluid ounces of wine a day

Sarah (Flavoropolis)

This is really cool. It makes me proud to be from Cleveland originally haha. I just can't imagine why anyone thought it was a good idea in the first place to take wild animals and feed them a processed diet full of sugar. It's certainly not fair to the animals. I'm happy to hear things are changing for the better though!


Agreed with Sarah. Can't believe the gorilla were fed badly in the first place.... Glad we here in Cleveland have fixed it!


Hmm, for a 750 ml bottle, that would mean a woman should pour about 15 equal drinks, one per day. Can one freeze wine? My wine popsicles weren't very good.

I did read once that there's a genetic connection between alcohol and breast cancer. I think it was related to estrogen receptors? Have you read this, or are all women equally susceptible?

Chris G.

Genetically speaking, there is only 1% divergence among the genomes of humans and gorillas, so, what works biochemically for the Great Apes should work for us all. I'd like to know what the cost of 10 pounds of green beans, dandelion greens and endive a day for each gorilla.


This article reminded me of a 2007 BBC story about a similar experiment -- on human beings!

"What if humans cast aside processed foods and saturated fats in favour of the sort of diet our ape-like ancestors once ate? Nine volunteers gave it a go... and were glad they did so....

"The regime was devised by nutritionist and registered dietician Lynne Garton and King's College Hospital. It was based on research showing such a diet could have health benefits for cholesterol levels and blood pressure, because it is made up of the types of foods our bodies evolved to eat over thousands of years.

"Ms Garton looked for inspiration to the plant-based diet of our closest relatives, the apes, and devised a three-day rotating menu of fruit, vegetables, nuts and honey. The prescribed menu was:

• safe to eat raw;
• met adult human daily nutritional requirements; and
• provided 2,300 calories - between the 2,000 recommended for women and 2,500 for men..."

"Overall, the cholesterol levels dropped 23%, an amount usually achieved only through anti-cholesterol drugs statins.

"The group's average blood pressure fell from a level of 140/83 - almost hypertensive - to 122/76. Though it was not intended to be a weight loss diet, they dropped 4.4kg (9.7lbs), on average."

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