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Palaeolithic Diet

What is the Palaeolithic Diet? The Paleolithic (paleo) diet is a relatively new and so-called ‘fad diet’ which emphasises the consumption of foods which would have been available in hunter gatherer days. It is often referred to as the Cavemen Diet.

What is the Palaeolithic Diet?

The Paleolithic (paleo) diet is a relatively new and so-called ‘fad diet’ which emphasises the consumption of foods which would have been available in hunter gatherer days. It is often referred to as the Cavemen Diet.

Hunter Gatherer Diet

The diet is based on the evolutionary discordance hypothesis which states that human evolution ceased around 10,00 years ago and that our genetics have not evolved to cope with our modern day eating habits. The diet therefore dictates consumption only of foods which would have been available in hunter gatherer days, meaning a diet high in animal products and vegetables, as well as fruits, nuts and seeds. Processed foods are avoided along with dairy, legumes and processed oils. Another way of framing the dietary constraints of the paleo diet, as phrased by Ray Audette is to say ‘Could I eat this if I were naked with a sharp stick on the savanna?’22

Image of hunter and gather painting Source: https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/what-are-hunter-gatherers.html

Is the Paleo Diet a Fad?

Science supports some elements of the diet – high vegetable intake and low sugar and processed food intake are evidence-based and commonly accepted as hallmarks of healthy living. However, removing dairy and grains from the diet is more controversial and it should be noted that individuals following a paleo diet should be cautious to avoid a micronutrient deficiency. In particular, the calcium intake of the paleo diet is about 50% of the recommended dietary intake23 which could lead to osteoporosis. The paleo diet is a fad diet, which has gained reasonable traction and popularity over the years. It is a controversial diet, and whilst supporters claim that the diet is evidence-based, the studies tend to be short-term, heterogeneous in design and under powered. There have been extravagant claims made to the public by wellness bloggers, social media influencers and celebrity chefs suggesting that the Paleo diet could prevent polycystic ovary syndrome, autism, mental illness and dementia. It is important to recognise that these claims are not supported by clinical research.

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