There’s a lot of buzz about the Paleo Diet.
Followers try to mimic the 10,000 year-old regimen of hunter-gatherers of the Paleolithic era before the advent of agriculture and domesticated animals. The diet is limited to foods that would have been available to early man either straight from the ground or the animal: pastured meats and wild fish, roots, nuts, fruit, and vegetables; no processed foods, sugar, dairy, beans, or grains. Nutty, yes, but the diet has gotten a boost from celebrity adherents like Megan Fox, Uma Thurman, and Tom Jones, NBA players Grant Hill and Steve Nash, and a good-sized chunk of the NFL.
Nuttier still is the logic behind the Paleo Diet.
It seems that primordial human fossils show that no one was fat back then. They didn’t suffer from modern-day problems like diabetes, arthritis, cancer, or cardiovascular disease. Of course they rarely lived beyond their 30’s, so it’s possible that they just didn’t live long enough to develop these conditions, but Paleo Dieters argue that it’s because they had inherently healthier diets.
The rationale has to do with evolution.
The Paleolithic era of hunter-gatherers lasted for 2.5 million years giving humans plenty of time for genetic adaptation. The era ended a mere 10,000 years ago, and the Paleo crowd claims that the modern diet has zoomed too far ahead too fast for the human genome to catch up. We’re forcing a 21st century diet into our stone age bodies.
“It’s intuitive,” says Dr. Loren Cordain of the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University. “Obviously you can’t feed meat to a horse, you can’t feed hay to a cat.” Author of the bestselling The Paleo Diet (and The Paleo Diet Cookbook, The Paleo Diet for Athletes, and The Paleo Answer), Cordain claims millions of followers, many of whom also incorporate a caveman-like workout into their lifestyle, practicing underbrush scoots, boulder tosses, and other primitive skills that can be helpful when fleeing a mastodon.
Moving beyond the wheel
The food is prehistoric but the technology is not.
Paleos have an active online community; you’ll find more than 5,000 discussion topics covering the Paleo diet and lifestyle at CAVEMANforum, as well as an assortment of smartphone apps that take the guesswork out of cooking, nutrition, food shopping, and restaurant dining for Paleos.
Beware of Matshishkapeu, god of constipation.
Anyone who’s ever tried a high-protein diet is familiar with the side effect of sluggish digestion. Paleolithic-Inuits believed that constipation was the result of a curse from Matshishkapeu, a mythological figure known familiarly as ‘Fart Man’ that accompanied the Innu when they were hunting, trapping, fishing, and foraging.