Should You Follow the Paleo Diet Food List?

November 12, 2012

Should You Follow the Paleo Diet Food List?

The Paleo diet or Caveman diet is yet another fad diet created to sell a lot of books and Paleo diet-related products. It is based on conjecture rather than sound nutritional, evolutionary or anthropological science. The author of the Paleo diet food list is considered to be Walter L. Voeglin. He was a gastroenterologist – a doctor that specializes in the digestive system. Voeglin published his diet plans in the 1970s. Recently, the Paleo diet gained scores of new followers with the popularity of the book “Paleo Diet” (2002.) Adherents to the Paleo diet food list argue that many modern ailments such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease are all caused by poor diets. They claim that we evolved to be hunter-gatherers and eat unaltered foods. The diet we eat now is unnatural and is the reason for many life-threatening illnesses. Evolutionary Problems One major flaw in the Paleo diet food list is that we are not entirely sure what people in the Paleolithic age ate when they had a choice of foods. People living in the Arctic, for example, have no other natural food sources other than meat or water. Although scientists have found bones and ancient refuse tips in cold climates, these have not been found in warmer climates where decay is rapid. The fact that many modern people do just fine on modern foods such as dairy products, tea or whole grain cereals indicated that the human body can easily digest these foods. If humans had evolved to eat only foods allowed on the Paleo doet food list, then the vast majority of people varying from this diet should suffer from malnutrition.


The Paleo diet food list contains many allowable meats that simply could not have been available 10,000 years ago. For example, the modern breeds of beef cattle appeared considerably less than 10,000 years ago. Wild cattle such as the now extinct aurochs would have had leaner, tougher and vastly different meat from modern cattle. And yet lean cuts of beef are allowed on the Paleo diet food list.

Another inconsistency lies in allowable vegetables. Starchy vegetables like cassava plants are not allowed. However, cassava root may have been eaten by Oriental peoples 10,000 years ago or even 20,000 years ago. And yet, cassava root is not allowed on the official Paleo diet food list, although some followers will include starchy vegetables like cassava based on the most recent archeological finds.

In Conclusion

The Paleo diet food list is impractical for a modern person to follow, mainly because we just do not know what the entire menu of our Paleolithic ancestors was like. Some foods they ate 10,000 years ago may be extinct today. There also have no positive studies done on the Paleo diet that proves that people following the diet live longer and stay healthier than those who don’t.

Another glaring problem is that people and their digestive systems have evolved since 10,000 years ago. While milk may have been indigestible for adults back then, many adults have no problem digesting dairy products today.


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