The Paleo Diet: Eat like cavemen and be thin and healthy?The popularity of this diet has, without a doubt, increased in the past few years. And a lot has been written about it. A quick search on Google with the words “Paleo Diet” leads to more than 9,180,000 results. How do we know what is truth and what is hype? Some websites tout the paleo diet as “the healthiest way to eat” or “achieve your full health potential” and “lose weight and get healthy.”… Let see what the science says about the Paleo Diet:
Definition of the “real” Paleo Diet is hard to identify.The diet of cavemen depended a lot on the geographic region and on the season. In fact, some tribes used to live in what is now Africa, others lived close to the Arctic and some in Europe. They were hunter-gatherers and as such had to adapt to what was available: berries during berry season, seal meat and fat in the North, etc. As a result, the macronutrient content of their diet (carbohydrates, protein and fat) varied depending on the season, the climate and the food available.
The human genome has changed over the millenia.Humans have adapted to their environment and as a result the human genome (DNA) has evolved since the caveman days. In short, we are just not identical to the cavemen (and that’s probably for the better!)
Our ancestors were less healthy than we are.Yes, you read it right! At that time, life was rough. Food wasn’t available all the time: food shortages were common. No food sanitary measures were applied and, as a result, humans were infected by parasites at a high rate. Fortunately, life expectancy and child survival rates have significantly increased since the cavemen period. Although the latter is positive, we now live long enough to develop chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases. In brief, cavemen didn’t live long enough to develop the diseases affecting humans today.
In conclusion, humans of the “Paleo” time period had to eat enough to survive and sometimes survival outweighed “balanced” and “healthy” choices. They did not have sweets or processed foods and at times ate more veggies, possibly making them “healthier”; however, remember these ancestors’ realities and DNA were much different from ours. There just is no comparison.
The science speaks again! Stay tuned for another blog coming soon!
By Genevieve Masson, RD, CD (@nutgmasson)