My Instagram blows up daily with photos of food. Lately, the hashtags are touting the latest “hunter-gatherer” diet creations- chicken sausage with spinach and eggs, bef stews, filets with sauteed mushrooms and other animal proteins encompassing the majority of our 12″ dinner plates.
Ancient eating is certainly on the rise (mostly due to Crossfit- the gym concept that swept America faster than the Macarena). The Caveman, Paleo, Stone Age, and Warrior diets are some of the most popular. Proponents believe that eating foods during Paleolithic era such as wild meats, fish, shellfish, nuts, vegetables (mostly root), and fruits is biologically and geneticaly how we should eat to bring us closer to optimal health, in terms of ideal body weight, and reduction in chronic diseases.
Is this just another diet d’jour? Or could there be some truth to evolutionary eating? Here are my thoughts.
The Industrial Era, including the introduction of refined foods, processed sugars, and fatty meats made a steep (negative) impact in the quality of our eating habits, compared to the minimally processed foods of our ancestors. Our ancestors also ate a wider variety of whole foods compared to our current highly processed (mostly corn) selections. I do believe that our bodies are not designed to process such low quality foods. Are the caveman diet lovers just loving the justification to eat more meat? It’s important to note that the meat of our ancestors were much lower in saturated fat and much leaner compared to todays feed lot, muscle lacking animals.
While I don’t fully condone the diet of our ancestors, we can take a few lessons regarding their diet pattern to incorporate into our modern diet. First, move more, much more (enough said). Second, there is enough evidence supporting a mostly plant based diet for better overall health (our ancient ancestors ate a wider variety of plants). Third, include more Omega 3 fatty acids (fish, nuts, seeds). Fourth, purchase grass fed meats. Lastly, avoid any and all processed foods – whole is the way to go.