Science Rains on Paleo Parade

New discoveries reveal early human diet was much different than first thought

Paleo Diet based on early human ancestors

One of many special diets to recently become popular, the Paleo diet is flagging media attention from researchers who claim that it is, perhaps, scientifically misguided.

The Paleo diet, also known as “the Caveman diet”, allows only foods that would have been eaten by our early ancestors. This includes pasture-raised meats, and most fruits and vegetables, and excludes dairy and processed products.      

An article in Discover Magazine suggests that the modern Paleo-eater’s restricted diet is not as accurately ancient as previously believed. In fact, scientists say that due to drastic geographical and lifestyle differences across early hominin populations, it is unlikely that there was one menu that proto-humans would have followed universally. 

Recent study of carbon isotopes in fossil remains has brought new insight on what early humans ate. It has been revealed that our species’ divergence from a traditional ape diet occurred a full 2.5 million years ago, far earlier than was previously posited. And notably, while the modern Paleo diet cuts out all grains, similar research has also revealed that our ancestors began eating grains such as wheat and corn as early as 2.9 to 3.9 million years ago. 


While the Paleo diet’s guidelines may inspire healthier choices, like the exclusion of refined sugars and processed foods, it seems that these diet decisions cannot be said to be entirely in the interest of historical accuracy.