The Paleolithic diet (Paleo diet ), also known as the Caveman Diet, is a diet modeled on the eating habits of humans or rather our Homo habilis ancestor of the Paleolithic age that began about 2.5 years ago. millions of years!
Although the Paleo diet seems new, it was revived several decades ago. It was launched around the 1970s by the American gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin with the idea that our ancestors of the Paleolithic could teach modern men how to eat healthily.
The diet was popularized by Dr. S. Boyd Eaton, a professor of anthropology at Emory University who thought that the human body had been built to follow such a diet.
- Cereals : wheat, rice, corn, pasta, bread, semolina, bulgur …
- Legumes : lentils, beans, peanuts, peas.
- Sugars and starchy foods : potatoes, peas, quinoa, chocolate.
- Oils : sunflower, peanut, corn, rapeseed.
- All dairy products
All fruits and vegetables must be organic. Moreover, the salt must be removed because the man of that time did not salt his food.
This is for the beautiful theory, but this is a problem for many scientists.
Anthropologists familiar with the behavior of our Paleolithic ancestors claim that these early men were not particularly used to eating.
What did the caveman eat?
“Basically, they ate anything and especially when they could anytime,” said Neal Malik, an assistant professor at the School of Arts and Sciences at Bastyr University.
Dr. Loren Cordain, “father” of the modern Paleo Diet movement, says the diet can help reduce rates of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. based on data showing that early humans did not suffer from these diseases.
But here’s why this statement is flawed: these diseases tend to begin when we reach a certain age. The first humans lived on average until the venerable age of 28, so it is not surprising that very few died because they had clogged arteries. Let’s not forget that our ancestors were also much more active than we are today , which of course makes a big difference with the sedentary people we are.
The real food of Neanderthals
A major scientific study on the analysis of dental plaque of Paleolithic men confirms that (despite the beliefs of some gurus) cereals, tubers and sweet fruits were staples in the diet of early men. The study published in the renowned journal Nature April 20, 2017 goes further by describing the diet of men paleo according to the continents.
Africa : Given the size of the continent, there was regional variability in what you would have found, says paleobiologist Amanda Henry, of the Faculty of Archeology at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, but wild yams, melons and berries were eaten throughout most of the region. Endurance athletes who try to have a paleo diet should therefore particularly consume yams, because their energy needs often require a large amount of carbohydrates to optimize their performance.
Middle East : heavily dependent on wild wheat, barley and wild oats, especially around the Israeli zone. No one was on a low-carb diet on this side of the globe, says Peter Ungar, professor of anthropology at the University of Arkansas and author of the book Evolution Bite: A Tale of Teeth, Diet, and Diet. human origins .
South America : Hundreds of years ago, humans were unconsciously left in their diet to eat sweet foods. Palm stems and palm fruit were popular foods in this part of the world.
North America : Most of the products eaten in this vast territory can no longer be found nowadays: an edible version of sunflower, seeds rich in oils from a variety of long squash and a cousin of barley. These foods have completed the hunted meat, including human flesh .
Europe : The foods available in this region reflect the “most traditional Paleolithic diet” with little grain. According to a study published in the journal Nature, the diet of men in this region also contained mushrooms, pine nuts, tree bark, moss and wild grasses.
Asia : The Paleolithic diet is traditionally associated with a low carbohydrate diet, but in this region people regularly ate millet and yams. People feasted here too with acorns, beans, and a few wild herbs.
Benefits of the paleo diet
The first benefit of the paleo diet is to stop the “bad” foods. This diet no longer allows you to eat all the sweets and processed foods.
It includes lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as healthy fats. This can help lower blood pressure and help regulate blood sugar levels. The University of Lund found in a study that a Paleolithic diet has improved glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-type diet for the 29 individuals monitored with ischemic heart disease.
Another study , conducted by the Karolinska Institute in Huddinge, Sweden, found that eating as hunter-gatherers could possibly prevent cardiovascular disease.
Risks of the paleo diet
Like many diets, the risk that comes with the Paleo diet is to have an unbalanced diet. For example, the Paleo diet requires eating a large amount of meat. This can lead to excessive consumption of saturated fats and cholesterol . “Those who follow this diet model do not account for differences in the fatty acid composition of today’s animal meat compared to the composition of 100,000 years ago,” said Neal Malik.
“At the time of our ancestors, the fatty acid composition of animals in the wild was made up of more omega-3s that actually improve our health. However, because of differences in the way we feed and raise our cattle today, meat tends to contain more saturated fats. ”
The Association of Dieticians in the UK has ranked the Paleo diet as one of the five worst celebrity diets to avoid in 2015, because removing such a large amount of food, without proper substitution, can compromise health.