What is the Paleo Diet?
The Paleo Diet, which is intended to mimic the consumption habits of Cro-Magnon Man, consists of the foods consumed during the Paleolithic Era. An era that spanned from, approximately, 2.5 million years ago to the age of agriculture, 10,000 years ago. The following era, the Neolithic Era, brought about the age of agriculture. Many suggest that the dietary shift, during the Neolithic Era, was detrimental to the wellbeing of Mankind.
Many Dietitians adhere to the Discordance Hypothesis, the belief that the Human body is “genetically mismatched” to the agricultural practices that came about during the Neolithic Era. Agriculture greatly modified the Human diet: dairy, grains and legumes, foods with a high Starch content, become dietary staples. “This relatively late and rapid change in diet, according to the hypothesis, outpaced the body's ability to adapt.” This change in diet is believed to be a contributing factor to obesity, Heart Disease, and Diabetes that plagues modern man.
The Paleo Diet is, in essence, the Hunter/Gatherer diet. The Paleo Diet consists of lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. A paleo diet restricts the consumption of foods that became common due to the advance of agriculture. These foods include dairy products, grains, and legumes. However, some Dietitians, Archaeologists, and Geneticists offer criticisms of this diet.
Archaeologists state that Geography causes variations in climate, availability of resources and consequentially diet. Moreover, consumption of wild grain existed well before the Neolithic Era and agriculture - the Human diet included wild grains as far back as 30, 000 years ago. Furthermore, Mankind’s transition to agriculture shaped nutritional needs. Research in genetics has demonstrated that evolutionary changes continued into the Neolithic Era, especially an increase in genes related to the consumption of dietary Starches.
Although the Paleo Diet may assist in weight loss, similar health benefits are obtained through exercise and a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables.