There’s a new study on the horizon that just might change the conceptions of those of us who like to restrict our diets to the Paleolithic type of eating. It turns out that the paleo diet was high on carbs. Lo and behold what the people who thought it up never considered!
Taste may seem like the main thing here. But there is also an evolutionary argument in place. The endorsers of the Paleo diet would argue that it’s good to maintain the caveman diet, since cavemen apparently had it right, judging from the fact that they eventually evolved into us. But while the premise may sound logical and good, it may also be completely misunderstood.
How much do we actually know about the diets of the Stone Age? Apart from watching the Flintstones to see what Fred and co. ate, we don’t have that much scientific evidence to point us in the clear direction. The main proponent of the paleo diet is, obviously, the person who wrote the book about it: Loren Cordain. In the book, the claim is that basically, by eating what our ancestors ate, we will get less diabetes, less heart disease, and less cancer. These among other health issues.
Going beyond the obvious question of how do we know that they did not get these diseases, new research has now emerged disproving what is a big part of the diet. The actual menu that people following it have, like Jeb Bush for instance, contains absolutely no processed foods, and no carbohydrates. So we’re not allowed bread, no potatoes, and nothing else that may have carbs.
The main argument of the new study that has just appeared in the Quarterly Review of Biology starts from the basis that primitive humans did not have that much reason to have survived. From an anatomical point of view, they were strange creatures, with guts far too small for the food they needed to sustain their hunter-gatherer lifestyles. The human brain had more and more metabolic needs for its growth, and raw foods and poorly cooked dishes did not provide enough nutritional value for them.
Bottom line: brains needed more than just the current paleo diet to evolve. So the irony here is that the paleo died is no paleo at all, but probably faux-paleo. And it’s very probable that were it not for those carbs making our foods taste better and be easier to digest, we would not have the brain power now to come up with all these mind-boggling new diets.
As many articles point out, throughout history, humans have eaten just about anything, so establishing a diet from a historical rationalization is complicated, if not futile, since humans have evolved a lot only in the last 1000 years.
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