Palaeodiet - Good intentions, gone wrong?

Palaeodiet - Good intentions, gone wrong?

"It’s laudable that people want to improve their health, or hope to stave off lifestyle diseases like cancer, diabetes and coronary heart disease, by adopting a diet based on healthy choices.

I also think its admirable to aspire to eat in ways that might be a better ‘fit’ for our biology and evolutionary history.

As noble as this idea might be, we simply won’t get there through some fad diet, like the palaeodiet.

It’s not based on good science, as many of its celebrity supporters will openly admit, and now has more to do with making money than providing good health.

Surely we owe it to ourselves to make the connection between what science tells us causes lifestyle diseases and a science-based approach to preventing them?" So concludes Darren Curnoe, Human evolution specialist & ARC Future Fellow at UNSW Australia as he examines how much we really know about our diet prior to agriculture becoming established and grains becoming a greater part of our regular diet:


6 Replies

  • fascinating!

  • Ok, so keep on eating lots of refined carbs and sugar, and have diabetes along with your CLL. This article is ridiculous. The paleo way of eating is based on lots of veggies (great source of fiber), some fruits, adequate protein from pasture raised animals and eggs, wild seafood, and healthy fats such as nuts and seeds, coconut oil and olive oil. Full fat cheese and yogurt is good if you can tolerate it. Check out books by Loren Cordain and Robb Wolf. Visit Do some research. It's a very healthy way to eat, not a fad.

  • I thought the point of the article was that we don't accurately know what was eaten so long ago. From the article: "The simple fact is that for most people alive today we don’t have a very good idea what our hunter-gatherer ancestors really ate.

    That’s because most of them gave it up 5,000 or 10,000 years ago, and there’s little by way of a detailed archaeological record for us to reconstruct their diet from.

    What we do know about hunter-gatherers around the world, ones studied by European ethnographers during historical times and those whose lifestyle we have managed to reconstruct in a very patchy way from the archaeological record, is that flexibility and diversity were the keys for our species.

    No single diet fitted any single group, and everything eaten depended on where in the world people lived, keyed into local climate and environmental diversity, and seasonal availability."

    From the frequency of positive comments made by people changing their diet and saying how much better they feel, I think we need to recognise that while people can survive on a wide range of diets, each of us probably can find a specific diet that best matches our specific needs, due to the influence of many factors, with genetic variations and upbringing probably being the most important.

    Given the frequency at which new diet styles come around, I suspect I'll be on safe ground in stating that a Palaeodiet will be seen to be a fad diet sometime in the future, but that there will doubtless be some adherents that find it suits them very well.

    I just posted about the Palaeodiet because thoughts of whether we should change our diet is a typical response when we are diagnosed with CLL. I've collected more specific guidelines here:

    Realistically, dietary changes are likely to have little influence over our CLL progression, but finding a healthier diet is likely to pay dividends for our general health and in helping us get through treatment if we ever need it. Just as each of us follows our own unique path with CLL, we're also likely to find our own specific diet that best suit us.


  • Neil, thanks for your reply. I was put off by the article's snide implication that Paleo is connected to cannibalism. We may not know exactly what humans ate before the advent of agriculture, but there are existing hunter/gatherer societies, such as the Inuit and Masai, that have been studied, and found to have been very healthy on their diets before adopting more modern diets. Yes, people are different in what diet they may thrive on, but being that large usage of grains began only with the development of agriculture around 10,000 years ago, many of us may not have the ability to safely eat them.

  • We know quite well what Neanderthals ate...a fairly balanced diet, however more samples are needed...

    The science

  • Well that's sorted diets out then. I'll pass on finding more samples Chris :)

    However, one point I was pleased to see brought up by mgh348 in case we need reminding was that refined carbohydrates and sugar can lead to Type 2 diabetes, if not carefully controlled.

    Now why do they have to be in ice cream !

    Nice comprehensive reply and photo Neil.

    Best wishes all


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