is the Paleolithic Diet? By
For most of the million
or so years our species has existed on Earth, we have been hunter-gatherers.
Our ancestors hunted game and ate lots of meat. They also gathered whatever
fruits, vegetables, nuts, and berries were in season. Being nomadic, they
followed the sources of food and did not grow crops. Over many hundreds
of thousands of years our ancestors became superbly adapted to this diet
Studies of 19th and
20th century hunter-gatherers show that they ate a lot of meat. On average,
two thirds of their calories came from animal sources. Our early ancestors
probably ate at least as much meat. They produced many cave paintings and
pictographs of the animals they hunted and carved animal figures or totems.
I can't remember seeing any cave paintings of fruit, grains, or vegetables.
Among the oldest man made objects are stone spear points knives and axes.
The evidence shows that they followed the herds and their lives revolved
The agricultural lifestyle
came along about ten thousand years ago and spread around the world. In
terms of genetics and our body's ability to adapt to dietary change, this
is a very short time. The archeological record shows that there was a sharp
decline in stature and health that went along with the change to the agricultrual
diet and lifestyle. Early hunter-gatherers were 4 to 6 inches taller than
early farmers. The hunters had stronger bones, fewer cavities, and, barring
accident, they lived longer. Hunter-gatherers were rarely obese and had
low rates of autoimmune diseases like arthritis and diabetes.
In spite of overall
poorer health the farmers took over the world. How did this happen? Hunter-gatherers
have children, on average, only every 3 to 4 years, while farmers have
theirs every 11 months. Hunting and gathering only works for small groups
of people. Chiefdoms, kingdoms, and states only arose after the advent
of farming. A few people could produce food for many. Those freed up from
the day to day search for food could become artisans, soldiers, and bureaucrats.
A thousand soldiers supported by ten thousand slaves toiling in the fields
became the new super weapon. These guys could whip any band of hunter gatherers!
The old time hunter-gatherers were simply out-organized and out-bred. As
more and more land was converted into crops, the animals and those who
still followed them were driven off and marginalized. By the 19th and 20th
centuries we could only find hunter-gatherers in the deserts, jungles,
and remote places like the arctic.
In spite of civilization
and ten thousand years of farming all of us still have the old hunter-gatherer
DNA. There has not been enough time to adapt to our new diet. Studies of
mitochondrial DNA show virtually no difference between the most diverse
populations on the planet--groups which separated long before agriculture.
We are not adapted
to eat many of the agricultural foods in our present diet. Foods like bread,
corn, beans, and potatoes. As a result many of us eventually become obese
or become more likely to suffer from autoimmune diseases like diabetes,
heart disease, arthritis, and allergies. We probably never will adapt because
most of the time these ill effects hit us in middle age-- after our children
The ecological consequences
of large scale agriculture are severe. Forests are cut down to make room
for crops. Topsoil is washed or blown away. Today fertilizers and insecticides
are dumped on the land by the ton to improve "yield." Runoff from the fields
turns our rivers and bays toxic. The wild animals that once lived on the
land are disappearing with nowhere left to go.
The rules of the Paleolithic
Diet are simple: Only eat what was available to the early hunter-gatherers.
Foods which are edible raw. All other foods should be avoided. In effect
this is the factory specified diet.
Do Eat: Meats
and Fish, Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts, and Berries.
Do Not Eat:
Grains, Beans, Potatoes, Dairy, Sugar.
On this diet you don't
count calories or carbs. You eat when you're hungry and stop when you're
full. I snack all the time on nuts and fruit. Any food of any kind from
the "Do Eat" list is OK. All foods from the "Do Not Eat"
category are strictly forbidden -- no exceptions! It takes some will power
at first, but after a week or two the cravings for the old foods go away.
This diet pretty much
turns the old "food pyramid" upside-down. But, it works. Look at the growing
popularity of Atkins and other low carbohydrate diets. In spite of what
the media pundits are saying, people are losing weight and feeling good
on these diets. All of these diet plans restrict high carbohydrate foods
like bread, refined sugar, and pasta. I think the Paleolithic Diet is what
ties all the low carb diets together. It explains how they work from the
perspective of evolution and genetics.
It's hard to convince
people that what they've been hearing about nutrition all their lives is
wrong. Face it, we live in an agricultural society, and what we eat is
a big part of our culture, politics, and even religion. This diet involves
seeing the world from a new point of view. When you begin to question society's
basic assumptions about food just about everything else deserves scrutiny.
For us it's been a liberating experience.
We can never return
to the old hunter-gatherer lifestyle-- I don't think many of us would want
to. What we can do is learn to look at our diet from an evolutionary perspective.
Decide which foods and practices we keep and which we throw away. It will
change your life.
Future Is In Your Dietary by Jack Challem
Observations on Fundamentalism, Rigidity, and Rule-bound Thinking in Raw
Foods Diets, and Particularly in Raw Vegetation and Animal
Foods (RVAF) Diets
Evolution of Human Nutrition by Barry Bogin
Diets Which Include Raw Animal Foods Raw Meat, Raw Fish, Raw Dairy
Reactions and Detoxification
Paleolithic Diet By Bob Hodgen
Reactions & Detoxification
number of links regarding Paleo Diet
Overview of Raw Foods Diets