Patrick Holford Claims to Eat Like a Gorilla. Seriously?!?

Former Visiting Professor Patrick Holford and Head of Science and Education at Biocare has his own special and alternate reality. A personally-constructed reality in which he has a worthwhile opinion when it comes to interpreting the research of acknowledged scholars, delivers effortless insights into matters of nutrition and commends himself for his position on the leading-edge of pretty much every health matter.

In several books and articles, Holford refers to the diet of the gorilla as something that we should aspire to emulate. In a recent article for The Times in South Africa he declares:

I eat like a gorilla and supplement because I can’t get enough nutrients and minerals from my diet.

This is profoundly disturbing. Wild gorillas practise coprophagy; they can obtain minerals by geophagy. They eat termites. For the termites, each to their own and it makes sense to rely upon local produce: for the rest, it doesn’t bear thinking about.

According to Wiki adult male gorillas range in height from 165-175 cm (5 ft 5 in-5 ft 9 in), and in weight from 140-200 kg (310-440 lb). Adult females are average about 140 cm (4 ft 7 in) tall and 100 kg (220 lb). Occasionally, a silverback of over 183 cm (6 feet) and 225 kg (500 lb) has been recorded in the wild. Wild gorillas eat 40-70 pounds (18-32 kg) of food each day, and this takes an average of 55% of the day. Humans have rarely the time, inclination or gut to eat a comparable, relative volume of food in a day. Plus, we cook and process some food: in many cases, this makes it easier to obtain the nutrients from a smaller volume of food.

Wild gorillas carry a heavy parasite load that is probably exacerbated by their coprophagy but there is some suggestion that this practice allows them to absorb B vitamins created by bacteria activity in their lower intestinal tract that have been excreted. Different species, different needs. But, I will state here and now that I am glad that, by and large, humans don’t poop, scoop and consume goop.

Each to their own but some insights into nutrition that rely mainly upon an appeal to nature and evolution just don’t work.



Filed under Holford, patrick holford, supplements

11 responses to “Patrick Holford Claims to Eat Like a Gorilla. Seriously?!?

  1. Apparently, you are what you eat.

  2. JR

    Well at least that explains the shit that comes out of Holford’s mouth.

    *Sorry, I had to be the first to get the obvious joke in.

  3. UK dietitian

    “I eat like a gorilla and supplement because I can’t get enough nutrients and minerals from my diet.”

    So says ‘Leading Optimum Nutritionist’

    Dietitians ‘cure’:

    Eat food
    mainly plants (comment plagiarised from M Pollan)
    lean meat
    oily fish
    low fat dairy
    olive or rapeseed oils
    the odd handful of nuts
    and not forgetting chocolate….. a bit
    (big) smidge of alcohol most days

    yum yum

    Contains no artificial additives; completely nutritIONista free, nut.nutritionist free

  4. You would have to be a wealthy gorilla to match Patrick’s supplement regime, as detailed in the article:

    ” – a high-strength multivitamin (that should provide 15mcg of vitamin D and other high minerals);

    – vitamin C, together with zinc and berry extracts, essential omega 3 and 6 fats;

    – phospholipids (phosphatidyl choline, serine, DMAE) and other brain-friendly nutrients including the amino acid pyroglutamate

    – extra antioxidants including glutathione, alpha-lipoic acid, co-enzyme Q10, selenium and resveratrol. “

    Patrick adds:

    “I also occasionally take digestive enzymes, probiotics and glutamine powder if I have any digestive problems, extra chromium if my energy is low, niacin (B3) if I get a headache, extra vitamin A if I have an infection, and extra magnesium if I’m stressed.

    If I have an allergic reaction I take extra quercetin with MSM, glutamine, vitamin C and bromelain.”

    Note that the article also carries a link to the website of the local Nutritionista association (, which in turns exhorts people to sign up to the “Save Our Supplements” petition set up by “Com=nsumers for health choice”, which appears to be a European supplement and Nutritionista lobby campaigning to persuade the EU not to regulate the selling of supplements.

  5. Claire

    eating like a gorilla…coprophagy…TAPM?

    Don’t think even TAPL would go that far.

  6. £34.94 for 28 day supply of Optimum Nutrition Pack (includes multivit, Omegas and ImmuneC)
    Brain Food Formula is harder to calculate as there is a sliding dosage and there are 3 packs sizes. Cheapest is £53.94 for 240. Let’s say that is 60 days as we used the cheapest pack size.
    AGE antioxidants. Cheapest £27.94 for 120 which is 60 days.
    So, all in all, the basics, ignoring the extras are:
    £1.25 pp pd for multi
    £0.90 pp pd for BFF
    £0.47 pp pd for AGE antioxidants.
    For a basic of £2.62 per person, per day or £78.60 for 30 days.

    As for the rest, the cheapest probiotic would be @76p pp pd and the digestive enzymes around 67p pp pd. Running total of £4.05 pp pd.

    Probably the cheapest way of doing this is the Digestion Pack at £68.06 for 30 days or £2.27 pp pd. Add on the BFF and AGE and that is £3.64 pp pd.

    The glutamine is surprisingly costly (or, it is to me). £32.35 for 150g for a recommended 10g a day which is £2.16 pp pd.

    So, up around £5.80 per person per day, and that isn’t all of the optional extras or the ‘in case of fatigue/infection etc.’ recommendations.

    We are talking about gorillas who have a lucrative job, possibly charging fees for their appearances in wildlife documentaries and such.

    For humans, particularly those who live in households, for £5.80 per person per day, I wonder how much nicer a selection of fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts, 70% chocolate, red wine etc. you might be able to purchase with that per diem, as per Professor UK Dietitian’s recommendations.

  7. Andy, JR – indeed, someone had to say it. It would probably have rent the space-time continuum if those particular vacuums had been left unfilled.

    Claire – TAPM – *contemplates calving of new monster and feels queasy*.

    Professor UK Dietitian – Holford’s latest anti-dairy shock tactic in his talks is to refer to it as “adults breast-feeding from another species”.

  8. Humans can’t survive without cooking. People who eat a raw diet while hunting and gathering at a grocery store lose weight and women become amenorrheic.

  9. Claire

    Holford’s contention that western adults are somehow aberrant in their consumption of cow’s milk seems (conveniently?) to overlook the contribution of milk to the traditional Maasai diet (indigenous to Tanzania/Kenya) –

  10. Claire

    link to full text(pdf) of that abstract cited (in the Dr Briffa post comments but putting it here with DVN’s comment):

    Edit – DVN’s comment moved to correct thread.

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