Eating Like Which Caveman?

Mar 15 2013 @ 10:47am

Laura Miller summarizes arguments from Marlene Zuk’s new book, Paleofantasy, which calls the “paleo diet” fad pseudoscientific:

[G]eneralizations about the typical hunter-gatherer lifestyle are spurious; it doesn’t exist. With respect to what people ate (especially how much meat), the only safe assumption was “whatever they could get,” something that to this day varies greatly depending on where they live. Recently, researchers discovered evidence that people in Europe were grinding and cooking grain (a paleo-diet bugaboo) as far back as 30,000 years ago, even if they weren’t actually cultivating it. “A strong body of evidence,” Zuk writes, “points to many changes in our genome since humans spread across the planet and developed agriculture, making it difficult at best to point to a single way of eating to which we were, and remain, best suited.”

Yglesias agrees with Zuk:

None of which is to say that adopting a paleo diet won’t “work.” Any sufficiently stringent, somewhat arbitrary set of dietary restrictions is likely to lead you to snack less and be more mindful of what you’re eating. But the paleo concept is a marketing gimmick that doesn’t have much basis.