Is the Paleo Diet Meant for Humans?

Is The Paleo Diet Meant for Humans?


The Paleo diet has  been touted as being a healthy diet that everyone should be on.

Advocates say cavemen hundreds of thousands of years ago where hunter and gatherers that had a diet consisting of meats, fruits and vegetables. If we eat foods that we were genetically programmed we would be healthy and stay healthy.

There are several reasons this line of thinking is wrong. 

1st) Most cavemen did not live past 40 years of age. They lived long enough  to procurate and pass on their genetic material, so the diet isn't actually good. 

 2nd) The cavemen did not live long  enough to suffer from the chronic diseases caused by unhealthy foods they ate. 

To go even further, the Paleolithic period is considered to represent the last 2 million years of human evolution at which time the hunter gatherer ate a diet consisting of lean meat, fruits, vegetables and nuts. However,  humans have been evolving for the last 25 million years. In other words, humans are not self-made creatures dietarily, but rather have an evolutionary history as anthropd primates stretching back 25 million years,    according to a lot ofanthropologists. 

A history that shaped their nutrient requirements and digestive physiology well before they were humans. These features appear to be genetically conservative and probably were little affected by the hunter gatherer phase of human existence. For the 90% of our evolution we were strongly herbivores. 


For most of human evolution cholesterol was virtually absent from the diet. There were very few foods from which cholesterol could be synthesized within the body and many foods enhanced cholesterol elimination via the gut.

Since our body needs cholesterol for sex hormone and bile acid synthesis and also fulfilling essential function in cell membranes our physiology developed mechanisms to preserve the total body pool of cholesterol.

Fast forwarding to modern times this adaptive mechanism has led to excessive cholesterol accumulation due to the cholesterol laden foods we eat today.

The ability of our bodies to hold on to cholesterol at all costs during our earlier evolution, since we were not getting enough of it then, has now become a liability, it has become maladaptive and the reason people who eat a paleo diet are at high risk for cardiovascular disease.

Certain populations in Africa and Asia who eat a plant based diet have virtually no Coronary Heart Disease or Hypertension. 

These populations have been eating the type of diet we have been eating for the last 20-25 million years.  

So, in conclusion the paleo diet is another fad diet that has been thrust upon us, but as the evidence shows, the paleo diet needs to go the way of the caveman.

Dr. Anteneh Roba

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