Could Paleolithic man hold the key to today’s nutrition problems?
A growing number of adherents to the so-called “caveman” diet contend that a return to the hunter-gatherer foods of the Stone Age — heavy on meats, devoid of most grains — could alleviate problems like obesity, type 2 diabetes and many coronary problems.
The Paleo diet movement is backed by some academics and fitness gurus, and has gained some praise in medical research in the US and elsewhere even though it goes against recommendations of most mainstream nutritionists and government guidelines.
Loren Cordain, a professor of health and exercise science at Colorado State University, said he believes millions in the United States and elsewhere are following the Paleo diet movement, based on sales of books such as his own and Internet trends.
“It was an obscure idea 10 years ago, and in the last two to three years it has become known worldwide,” Cordain, one the leading academics backing the Paleo diet, told AFP.
“There are at least a half-dozen books on the best seller list that are promoting this,” he added.
The underlying basis for the Stone Age diet is a belief that homo sapiens evolved into modern humans with a hunter-gatherer diet that promoted brain function and overall health. Backers say the human genome is essentially unchanged from the end of the Paleolithic era 10,000 years ago after evolving over millions of years.
“It’s intuitive,” Cordain said. “Obviously you can’t feed meat to a horse, you can’t feed hay to a cat. The reason for that is that their genes were shaped in different ecological niches.”
He said peer-reviewed research has shown the Paleo diet better than the Mediterranean diet, US government recommendations and diets aimed at controlling adult diabetes.