Here’s How The “Paleo Diet” Lines Up With What Our Ancestors ACTUALLY Ate…
Lately it seems like everyone has their own name-brand fad diet. Keto (dirty or clean), Mediterranean, South Beach, Atkins… the list goes on and on.
There are even books claiming women from one area of the world or another don’t get fat… before prompting you to eat just like them.
But among all of these different diet ideas, there is one that stands out. It does this not through odd suggestions… but through the basis of why people should give it a try.
And this diet fad is known as Paleo.
Created in 1970 by gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin, the Paleo diet claims to mimic the diet of pre-agrarian humans. The idea is that hunter-gatherer humans were healthier than we are today.SPECIAL: Researcher Discovers The “Million-Year-Old” Diet That Allows This Tribe To Stay Slim & Healthy… Even While Eating Sugar
Therefore if we eat like them… we can see a decrease in obesity, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and a variety of other issues.
In the 50 years since the diet’s creation, it has taken on a life of its own. There are blogs and books and podcasts and groups… all dedicated to helping people maintain a Paleo diet.
For most people, however, the question remains: how accurate to history is this diet?
And what exactly is the modern Paleo diet anyway? How does the historical human diet compare to the modern “Paleo” diet… and is it actually healthier to eat like our ancestors?
It turns out that the answers to these questions aren’t as simple as one might think.
Comparing early human diets to modern Paleo yields some interesting results…. and they might not be what you expect!
What Is The Modern Paleo Diet?
When people say they are following a Paleo diet, they mean they are following the rules set down by Voegtlin in 1970. It is, in essence, a “meat and vegetable” diet.
In order to follow the “original” Paleo diet… one must give up all processed foods and all sugar (except for honey). Low levels of salt intake are also suggested since ancient peoples would not have had access to table salt. Guidelines on other herbs and spices are a little fuzzy.
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Grains are strictly forbidden, as is dairy. The reasoning goes that paleolithic humans were not farmers and did not tend cattle… so they would not have access to either product.
Finally, the majority of a person’s plate on the Paleo diet should be made up of vegetables and grass-fed or wild-caught meat. Seeds and nuts are considered excellent snacks because they could be foraged by our ancient ancestors.
How Historically Accurate Is The Modern Paleo Diet?
When a diet is based on an assumed historical precedent, the hope is that the diet is fairly accurate. In the case of Paleo, however… it’s not.
Because of this, Paleo’s focus on equally high vegetable and protein balances can’t be based on actual paleolithic diets. There simply is no one single paleolithic diet.
But that is not the only issue with Paleo. The diet’s complete ban on grain is also not historically accurate.
It’s true that our ancestors did not eat grains in the same quantity that we do today… because they didn’t farm them. But our species began farming grains because we knew how to use them and that they worked well in our diets.
Of course, the specific grains varied from region to region. But they have always been there. So a complete ban on them means that the Paleo diet is not truly based on what our ancestors ate.
Is The Paleo Diet Really Healthier Than The Modern Human Diet?
In short? No, Paleo is not inherently healthier.
Historical inaccuracies aside, the idea that you have to cut out all grains, sugars, and most salts just doesn’t work. And living mostly on protein isn’t good for your body.
Put bluntly, there is no evidence that ancient people were healthier than we are. There might have been fewer recorded instances of specifically named diseases… but most children died before the age of 15. And if someone made it to adulthood, they weren’t expected to live past 40.
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A study in The Lancet found that ancient peoples might have been just as unhealthy as we are. Of 137 mummies tested, 47 were found to have suffered from hardened arteries prior to their death. This condition is usually caused by a high-fat diet and can lead to heart problems, stroke, and many other diseases we associate with modern dietary issues.
Humans have come a long way since the paleolithic times. And while we can take some lessons from our ancestors—like not drinking soda or eating processed foods—they didn’t have all the answers.
As the science shows, they weren’t any healthier than we are… and may have even been worse off. They just didn’t have names for what ailed them.
Can The Paleo Diet Be Adapted?
One of the upsides to diets like Paleo is that they can be adapted. You might not be “eating Paleo’’… but you can still cut out excess sugar and as many processed foods as possible.
Study after study has shown that a high level of sugar in your diet increases your risk of heart problems, diabetes, and obesity. Sugar is actually worse for your health than salt… despite ‘common knowledge’ saying otherwise.
Of course, a reduced sugar intake is not the only thing you can adapt from Paleo. Most Americans are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. This means that it would probably be a good idea to up your intake like people following Paleo do.
Certain things, however, can be left behind. You don’t need to focus your diet entirely on meat. And you don’t need to cut out all grains.
Just be honest with yourself about how much space on your plate is taken up by meat and starches. Then scale those portions back a little… and fill the space with fruits and vegetables.
Paleo, like any other restrictive diet, has its ups and its downs. No, it is not what our ancestors ate. But it does have some good parts that you can incorporate into your own eating habits.
Few people can adapt a strict diet like Paleo (or any other similar diet) and see the kind of results that ads and blogs promise. It takes dedication, monetary investment, and the right reaction from your body.
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Rather than adapt a diet fad, find the things that work for you. Less processed food is almost always a good place to start… as is an increase in fruits and vegetables. From there, it depends on what works best for you.
Lean meat, no meat, or meat prepared a certain way… Nuts or legumes, tofu or animal protein…
There are many ways you can customize your diet without sticking to one limited plan. And when your goal is improving your health… it’s easy to find the things that work and run with them.
The One “Paleo Diet” With PROVEN Data to Back It Up (It’s Good-for-You!)
There is one (and exactly one) paleo diet that has been passed down through the ages…
And that has been proven by modern science to be really good for you.
It comes from a specific tribe who has lived in Africa for thousands and thousands of years… without changing the way they hunt, forage, and otherwise eat…
And these African tribespeople grow up to be tall… lean… muscular… and have nice straight teeth… and more attractive, symmetrical faces as well.
This tribe calls themselves the “Hadza”… and their distinct diet gives them the unique distinction of having the most diverse gut bacteria of any people in the world…
To see what they eat that makes them so darned healthy… and how you can replicate it without selling everything and moving to Africa to live with the Hadza… check this out: