Eat the Caveman Way! It is common knowledge that incorporating grains into one’s meals is a great way to eat a balanced and healthy diet. In fact, most cultures around the world typically eat diets that include carbohydrates such as grains as a base. Grains, therefore, are typically the main source of calories in most cultures worldwide.
Over time, experts have noticed this trend in the average human diet and combined them into a basic food pyramid.For example, the most widely known food pyramid was introduced by he United States Department of Agriculture in 1992 and has since been the general guide for eating in the United States and many other countries worldwide (Lewis). The pyramid depicts grains, especially whole grains such as cereals, breads and pastas as the base of a healthy diet. Therefore, most will agree that whole grains are an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Some, however, have recently come to recognize why grains are not necessarily part of a healthy diet and have also proposed a new diet movement.
The movement is called the “Paleolithic” or “caveman” diet. While the Paleolithic Diet explains that our ancestors did not consume many of the foods we eat today, grains and dairy are the two main food groups the diet aims to eliminate. The Paleolithic Diet encourages the consumption of lean meats, nuts, fruits, and vegetables, while discouraging the consumption of dairy and grains.
The Paleolithic Diet encourages and discourages these particular foods for health benefits and its main argument is that the human body evolved a time when foods such as dairy and grains were not part of our early ancestors’ diets.Since these foods were not being eaten by our early ancestors’ and during a time hen the evolution of the human body was still underway, our bodies are Just simply not made to digest and process these foods well. In addition to arguing that grains and dairy were not a source of food for our early ancestors, the Paleolithic Diet also explains that the elimination of grains and dairy can promote a lower and more stable blood sugar, reduce the risk of the metabolic syndrome, decrease the presence of acne, and promote weight loss.While most claim the Paleolithic Diet is merely another fad diet, there is strong evidence to support its benefits in regards to the health and overall well-being on anyone on the diet. The most significant and straightforward case for the Paleolithic Diet is that our bodies evolved to eat certain foods and not eat others Just as any other animal. Since the diets of our ancestors who shaped the majority of the evolution of the human body did not contain grains or dairy, it is easy to understand why these foods would be harmful to us.For example, an article from The Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition describes the disconnect between our Paleolithic ancestors’ diets and our modern-day diets: Boyd Eaton of Emory University (Atlanta) has spent over 20 years reconstructing prehistoric diets from anthropological evidence and observations of surviving HAG [hunter gatherer] societies, put this succinctly: We are the heirs of inherited characteristics accrued over millions of years, the vast majority of our biochemistry and physiology are tuned to life conditions that existed prior to the advent of agriculture some 10,000 years ago.
Genetically our bodies are virtually the same as they were at the end of Paleolithic era some 20,000 years ago. The appearance of agriculture and domestication of animals some 10,000 years ago and the Agricultural Revolution mom 200 years ago introduced new dietary pressures for which no adaptation has been possible in such a short time span. Thus an inevitable discordance exists between our dietary intake and that which our genes are suited to. ‘ (Mann) Here, author N. J.
Mann explains how we are byproducts of millions of years of evolutionary processes, which have shaped the way our bodies metabolize the foods we eat. Since our bodies are almost one hundred percent genetically the same as they were during the Paleolithic Era, it would only make sense for us to eat the same foods our ancestors did thousands of years ago. Eating foods our bodies were not formed to eat (such as grains and dairy) would be as impractical as a person attempting to breathe underwater without any SCUBA gear.However, since the major Agricultural Revolution, our diets have shifted from a menu filled with more biologically sound foods and hunter-gatherer way of eating, to a diet filled with processed grains and dairy products. The Agricultural Revolution was a period of agricultural development between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, which marked a huge increase in agricultural productivity and farming technologies (Bellies).
With this huge increase in potential agricultural productivity at a relatively low cost, the foods made from these now highly accessible ingredients saw a marked increase in popularity and consumption upon the Agricultural Revolution. The new farming technologies and agricultural productivity made it possible for large crops of grains to be produced and then easily be turned into carbohydrate-dense foods such as breads, pastas, and cereals.Also, the domestication of animals post-Paleolithic era made it possible to use these newly highly available animals to make dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese.
Before the domestication of animals, our Paleolithic ancestors wouldn’t have been able to milk any animals hunted. Rather, they would have to kill them instinctively and immediately stripped the animal of its meat. So, it is easy to see why dairy products were not a part of the human food regimen during this time when much of our specie’s evolutionary development was taking place.There is a similar thought process behind processed carbohydrates coming from large crops of grains. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors were constantly on the move. For our ancestors to take the time to plant large crops of grains and know when and in what climate each hype of grain is grown best in would have been absolutely unfeasible.
In addition, once the grains were grown, it would be inconceivable for these constantly moving humans to then mix the grains with dairy products to render a product like bread or pasta.The process of turning whole foods such as plants into these processed grain goods goes completely against human nature, yet somehow, they are considered a typical and even essential part of a “healthy’ diet nowadays. While these processed carbohydrates and dairy products are a staple in the average person’s everyday diet, they are not what our bodies are programmed to metabolize. Since the Paleolithic Diet is what our bodies were made to live off of, it is easy to see why it would have major health benefits to anyone who chooses to adopt the diet.
Since this the theory about eating a Paleolithic Diet has gained much popularity, more and more universities and other science departments are beginning to perform studies on the diet and its health benefits. One of the health benefits that the Paleolithic Diet can result in is a reduced and stable blood sugar. For example, the Department of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco performed a study on nine denary and of average health individuals that required them to adopt a Paleolithic way of eating (leans met, nuts, fruit and vegetables) for ten days.Of their findings, the authors of this article said: What we can say with this study is that even the most ‘normal’ of our healthy sedentary subjects showed an improvement in their BP and glucose tolerance, a decrease in insulin secretion and an increase in insulin sensitivity, and a great improvement in their lipid profiles without weight loss in less than 2 weeks on the Paleolithic diet?all important factors that would be necessary in any potential cure for the metabolic syndrome.Foretaste et al.
954) This study proved that the adoption of a Paleolithic way of eating, regardless of physical activity levels (all participants were sedentary), not only shows a vast improvement in the overall health of the individual, but could also prove to be a cure for metabolic syndrome disorders such as high triglycerides, low HAD (or “good”) cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.This study helped to prove the basic idea that the adoption of a Paleolithic way of eating, regardless of physical activity, not only shows a huge improvement in the overall health of the individual, but could also rove to be a cure for many metabolic syndromes and other symptoms linked to the consumption of foods not allowed on the Paleolithic Diet, especially blood sugar. In addition to a high and unstable blood sugar, our modern-day diets have serious implications when it comes to the metabolic syndrome.The Paleolithic Diet promotes the reduction in the risk of obtaining a metabolic syndrome such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease. Doctors Staff Lundeberg, Loren Cordial, and S.
Boyd. Eaton, performed a study on groups of hunter-gatherers to take a closer look at the Paleolithic Diet and its benefits. In particular, they studied the rarity of the metabolic syndrome in these hunter-gatherer populations in hopes of proving that a Paleolithic Diet is optimal in the prevention of most modern-day disease, especially the metabolic syndrome.
Doctor Staff Lundeberg writes: In our health survey of the people of Octavia, Outboard Islands, Papua New Guiana, we found the population to be free from overweight, hypertension, hypersensitiveness, chemic heart disease, stroke and malnutrition. Signs of metabolic syndrome were conspicuously absent, although serum lipids were less favorable. The influence of imported foods was negligible and staple foods were tubers, fruit, coconut, fish and vegetables.
(Lundeberg et al. 52) The study done by Lundeberg and his colleagues shows the benefits of eating a Paleolithic Diet. Studies have been done about our early hunter-gatherer ancestors, but those are not even necessary when the benefits of a diet without processed grains and dairy can be witnessed in present time as well.
Although the studied proved the hunter-gatherers had poor serum lipids (a cholesterol measurement), we can clearly see that these present-day hunter-gatherer populations overall have far less health problems that people in modern society.Since these hunter-gatherer people have far less access to modern medicine than those living in more modern countries, it can be assumed that their diets must be doing most of the work. Their diets are providing their bodies with the necessary nutrients and are not putting toxins or any other materials our bodies are not made to metabolize. While these people are considered less civilized, their ancient diets are serving their bodies far better than the diets of people in modernized places.Another way the Paleolithic Diet has positive influences on the health of someone who adopts the way of eating is decreasing or eliminating acne, something that many pro-Paleolithic dieters claim in a modern-day disease, from an individual. A group of experts from the Department of Dermatology, Environmental Medicine and Health Theory at the University of Construct performed a study on the effects dairy products have on the human body. Here, they summarize their findings: Acne is absent in populations consuming Paleolithic diets with low glycerin load and no consumption of milk or dairy products.
Two randomized controlled studies, one of which is presented in this issue of Acta Dermatome-phenomenological, have provided evidence for the beneficial therapeutic effects of low glycerin load diets in acne. Epidemiological evidence con- firms that milk consumption has an acne-promoting or acne-aggravating effect..
. Acne should be regarded as an motors-driven disease of civilization, like obesity, type 2 diabetes and cancer induced by Western diet. (Melvin et al. 228) The mammalian target of rapacity complex 1, or motors, is a nutrient and energy sensor, and controlling, protein synthesis.
The activity of this complex is dimidiated by multiple outside and inside factors-especially insulin Ronald of Clinical Oncology). Milk, along with other dairy products, causes huge spikes in insulin levels once inside the human body. These increased insulin levels then upset our skin regulators such as the motors , causing it to over signal to sebaceous follicles. Sebaceous follicles are dermal glands that aid in the lubrication of hair and skin, and when they over react, acne occurs on the skin (Fuchs).Acne is Just one of the many recent diseases, or “diseases of civilization” as Melvin writes, that was not present when our Paleolithic ancestors were around. Once again, we see the cost of our highly industrialized and over-processed diets that are filled with dairy and grain products.
The Paleolithic Diet also turns the human body into an efficient machine, essentially, by promoting fat loss and thus decreasing the IBM of a person. IBM, or body mass index, is defined as: “a measure of your body weight in relation to your height to assess the “normalcy” of your weight.The University of Kentucky Weight, IBM and Body Fat fact sheet states that as IBM increases, so does the risk for some diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and some cancers” (Atkinson). Since an increase in a person’s body mass index can lead to health problems, the fact that the Paleolithic Diet helps to reduce body fat, therefore reducing IBM, shows Just how useful the diet can be in preventing these obesity- related diseases.A study done by Tommy Johnson and colleagues required 12 pigs to be fed cereal-based diets and another group of 12 pigs to be fed a Paleolithic diet consisting of vegetables, fruit, meat, and a small amount of tubers. Results of the study were summarized as: The difference between the two diets regarding obesity promotion could still be due to differences in subjectively allocated rations, but could alternatively be due to properties of a cereal based swine feed which possibly disturb the regulation of satiation, satiating properties of a Paleolithic diet and differing effects between the diets on energy metabolism.
The satiating properties of a Paleolithic diet could be due to differences in encountering diet composition, such as the low protein content of cereals in the Cereal group diet. The Paleolithic group thus ate relatively more protein and less carbohydrates, which through satiating, thermometric and other properties could account for the results of the study. Monsoon et al.
) The results of the pig study meant that those who ate the Paleolithic diet generally ate less because they were more satisfied upon consuming their high protein and low carbohydrate meals.The cereal group, however, were often times less satiated with their meals, which was due to the low amounts of protein in the cereal diet. Although the Paleolithic diet group of pigs did eat some carbohydrates, these microinstructions came from fruits and vegetables, rather than highly processed cereal. Since the pigs on the Paleolithic Diet were often times more satiated after ACH meal, they generally ate less, which lead to weight loss and a lower body mass index.
In an interview about the similarities between the bodies of humans and pigs, Gentle Well asked Chris Moran, a professor of genetics at the University of Kidney’s Faculty of Veterinary Science, if humans truly are similar to pigs in regards to the ways our bodies function. To this, Moran said, “Mammals have most of the same genes for similar biochemical and physiological functions. If you look at the details of the genes there’ll be differences between them, but they’ll still be doing the same kind of function” (Well).Since humans are very similar to pigs in regards to the way our bodies work, we can make the assumption that if pigs in the previously mentioned study done by Johnson and his colleagues saw benefits from eating a Paleolithic diet, so will humans.
Although many challengers of the Paleolithic diet argue that grains and dairy must be included in a humans balanced diet, this is simply untrue. Since we now know the direct link between our highly industrialized diets and our health problems as a society, there is no denying they have detrimental effects on the health of an individual.Looking to the future, education on the Paleolithic diet could potentially lead to a huge decrease in many diseases that are largely triggered by our modern way of eating highly processed and refined foods. A return “back to the basics” at least as far as our eating habits go could not only aid in preventable deaths, but also potentially further the evolution of the human body into an even more efficient biological machine.