The Paleo diet is one of the most trendy diets today, but before you decide to embark upon it, it is worthwhile arming yourself with as many facts as possible. And one of them is that early humans ate more than just meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, and nuts because now new studies disprove that our ancestors would have gone completely grain-free.
There is a huge wealth of information about the Paleo diet available online today, yet much of it is contradictory. We have advocates like Pete Evans, who has his own 10-week activation program, but we also have people like celebrity chef and columnist Ed Halmagyi, who declares that going Paleo is a “Vaudevillian Distraction” and a “confidence scam.” So, which one of them is right?
When scientists come up with a hypothesis, they are able to perform rigorous studies in order to either validate that hypothesis or discredit it. And when one team of scientists have finished their study, another team may perform their own to see if their evidence ends up agreeing with the first one. This could hypothetically go on for years.
It is probably safe to say that with many diets, most people don’t immediately turn to a peer-reviewed scientific study in order to give them the facts to decide whether their diet is going to help them become healthier or lose weight. But when it comes to the Paleo diet, there have been two very recent studies that both agree with each other, and these studies indicate that early humans consumed grains and that they would have been just as much a part of their diet as meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, and nuts. At least as long as those grains were freely available to them.
One recent study was conducted by analyzing the plaque left on the teeth of skeletons from 6600 B.C. that had been found around Romania and Serbia. This particular study showed that residuals of starches, similar to those of wheat, barley, or millet, had been deposited in the plaque. Other starch residuals were also discovered that could have been peas or beans. This challenges the notion that grains weren’t normally partaken of until around 6200 B.C. The lead researcher of this study, Dusan Boric, says that most people wouldn’t have previously believed that grains were a common food item in the Mesolithic and Paleolithic eras.
“There has been a long-standing view that for the most of the Paleolithic times, but also in the Mesolithic, animal protein coming from meat and fish was the main staple food with a very limited role of plant foods.”
Another interesting fact that was discovered in the course of this study is that many of the skeletons that were being analyzed also displayed signs that showed they would have lost their teeth much earlier than would have been expected, and this also points directly to them having had plenty of starches in their diets and not being completely grain-free.
The second study conducted on the Paleo diet was published in The Quarterly Review of Biology, and dismisses the diet’s claims that our early ancestors were much healthier without today’s instances of obesity and heart disease. Researcher Dr. Ken Sayer explained that in the past, one’s diet was the last thing that would have entered into the minds of early humans. They would simply have been eating enough for them to survive and to reproduce.
“Based on evidence that’s been gathered over many decades, there’s very little evidence that any early hominids had very specialized diets or there were specific food categories that seemed particularly important, with only a few possible exceptions.”
Also, as humans today live much longer than they ever used to, they will be much more likely to develop issues that early humans wouldn’t have had to deal with, such as those of heart problems and obesity.
As with all things, there is always a middle ground. While these two studies may disprove a grain-free way of life, it simply means that if you are on the Paleo diet, you shouldn’t feel bad about eating grains as early humans ate them too and you are being as authentic as you can possibly be.
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