By eating the foods that our ancestors ate thousands of years ago, we could be doing our modern bodies a favor—giving them the fuel they need to function today.
The Caveman Diet and a Healthy Lifestyle
As modern society struggles more and more with the problems of obesity, sustaining the environment, and the controversy of chemicals and additives in the food supply, many are looking back with interest at the presumed diet of our caveman ancestors.
The theory of Paleolithic nutrition assumes that we’ve evolved and adapted our dietary practices based on what our ancestors ate. It further supposes that the closer we stay towards that diet, the healthier we are.
This has a natural appeal, particularly as more concerns come out about the additives, manufactured products, and genetically-engineered strains of our modern food supply.
There are several different schools of thought as to what constitutes a caveman diet in the modern era. Some insist that it should be based on wild game, grass-fed beef and plants that have been around since the dawn of time.
Others restrict their diet to raw foods entirely. In any event, the basic theme is the same: the closer we adhere to the foods and preparation that the cavemen used, the healthier we will be today.
In part, this is a natural result of the dangers caused by modern times. Such a diet works because by definition it avoids many of the less healthy foods we consume today.
For example, cavemen had no idea what “high fructose corn syrup” was, so anyone adhering to a caveman diet would be unable to eat the processed foods that are mostly empty calories.
What’s more, a caveman diet forces us to eat actual food that would have been recognizable generations ago, not random snack products that come out of a machine. In that sense, we can all agree that it’s probably a good idea for our health.
But a true caveman diet isn’t quite that easy. Note that also forbidden are foods many take for granted as being good for us, such as dairy products.
Additionally, beans and cereal grains were first grown after the dawn of early man and, depending on how you define “caveman,” they may not count. Such restrictions aren’t designed as limiting or punishing people today; they arise from a concern that we were never built to consume or digest such foods.
One big argument among proponents of the caveman diet is the ideal proportion of plant-based to animal-based foods that should be consumed. Even excluding vegans and vegetarians who avoid meat for other reasons, there is a wide variety of acceptable answers depending on who you talk to.
And that’s probably appropriate, because not all early societies were the same. To take one obvious example, early settlements on or near the water would presumably have made fish a larger part of their diet that those living in mountain climates.
Regardless of how it’s defined on an individual level, the spirit behind the caveman diet is the same. Going back could mean going forward in terms of using food for health and nutrition as opposed to simply “filling the void.”
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