If you never had a reason to find out what our pre-historic ancestors ate, maybe now is the time. The Paranthropus Robustus, one of the early forms of man, lived over 1 million years ago and was discovered in southern Africa in 1938. From the shape of its teeth, researchers were not able to identify whether it hunted or scavenged for meat. However, it was evident that its diet consisted of fruits, nuts, sedges, grasses, herbs, seeds, tree leaves, tubers and roots.
Well now it seems the stone-age diet is back, but is it here to stay? The 21st century stone-age diet is also known by the following names: Paleolithic Diet, Paleo Diet, the Prehistoric Diet, The Caveman diet, or the Hunter-Gatherer Diet. Dating back over 1 million years ago, the stone-age diet is slowly gaining popularity as possibly the best diet for humans today.
Agriculture is only about 10,000 years old. Prior to this was the paleolithc era, where man was a hunter and gatherer; and only consumed what could be hunted or gathered from the wild. As life was nomadic man’s diet was varied and consisted of wild animals, plants, fruit, nuts and seafood. These were foods could be caught, collected and yes, eaten raw.
The rise of agriculture and settlement (i.e. Neolithic era) brought about a significant change in the human diet. New practices such as domestication of animals and crops evolved. These brought an end to the hunting and gathering lifestyle and modern humans could now settle where they pleased without worrying about where the next meal would come from. This lifestyle transition also meant that man’s food intake was no longer wild, diverse and raw. Instead it was restricted to local foods, produced using new tools and techniques. It also meant that animals, crops and humans were now dwelling in close proximity.
Foods that were introduced through agriculture included diary products and other plants which had to be cooked to kill toxins. Such foods (e.g. potatoes, beans and grains) would simply not have been part of early ancestor’s diet. These new foods were found to be high in energy, relatively easy to transport and could be stored for longer periods. It therefore wasn’t long before they soon became popular all around the world.
Some experts have argued that the end of the paleolithic era and the beginning of the neolothic era saw the decline in human health and fitness; with a rise in fatter and shorter populations. Interestingly, many people today suffer from allergies and digestive problems related to diary products, grain based products and starchy vegetables.
There has also been a rise in what medical experts refer to as metabolic syndrome, better known as “disease of civilization”. Metabolic syndrome is a medical disorder that increases risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, auto-immune diseases, diabetes type 2 and other conditions. Some studies have indicated that these diseases, previously unknown to our early ancestors, can be attributed to high consumption of agricultural based products and refined foods, including sugars, salt and processed oils.
The modern-day stone-age diet consists of meat, fish, chicken, eggs, non-starchy vegetables, fruit and true nuts (i.e. walnuts, almonds, macadamia and brazil nuts). Foods that are prohibited are diary products, refined sugars, grains, beans, lentils, peanuts and starchy vegetables. The general rule is that if our ancestors couldn’t gather it, or spear it, and eat it raw, then it’s probably best not to eat it at all.