Category Archives: Paleo Theory

Evidence for Ancient Beer and Porridge

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Interesting article in Nature from June 2021:

On a clear day, the view from the ruins of Göbekli Tepe stretches across southern Turkey all the way to the Syrian border some 50 kilometres away. At 11,600 years old, this mountaintop archaeological site has been described as the world’s oldest temple — so ancient, in fact, that its T-shaped pillars and circular enclosures pre-date pottery in the Middle East.

The people who built these monumental structures were living just before a major transition in human history: the Neolithic revolution, when humans began farming and domesticating crops and animals. But there are no signs of domesticated grain at Göbekli Tepe, suggesting that its residents hadn’t yet made the leap to farming. The ample animal bones found in the ruins prove that the people living there were accomplished hunters, and there are signs of massive feasts. Archaeologists have suggested that mobile bands of hunter-gatherers from all across the region came together at times for huge barbecues, and that these meaty feasts led them to build the impressive stone structures.

Now that view is changing, thanks to researchers such as Laura Dietrich at the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin. Over the past four years, Dietrich has discovered that the people who built these ancient structures were fuelled by vat-fulls of porridge and stew, made from grain that the ancient residents had ground and processed on an almost industrial scale1. The clues from Göbekli Tepe reveal that ancient humans relied on grains much earlier than was previously thought — even before there is evidence that these plants were domesticated. And Dietrich’s work is part of a growing movement to take a closer look at the role that grains and other starches had in the diet of people in the past.

The researchers are using a wide range of techniques — from examining microscopic marks on ancient tools to analysing DNA residues inside pots. Some investigators are even experimentally recreating 12,000-year-old meals using methods from that time. Looking even further back, evidence suggests that some people ate starchy plants more than 100,000 years ago. Taken together, these discoveries shred the long-standing idea that early people subsisted mainly on meat — a view that has fuelled support for the palaeo [sic] diet, popular in the United States and elsewhere, which recommends avoiding grains and other starches.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Paleo Diet: More Carbohydrates Than We Think?

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I haven’t read the full article in Journal of Human Evolution because I don’t want to part with $20 it costs. Here’s the abstract:

Evidence for plants rarely survives on Paleolithic sites, while animal bones and biomolecular analyses suggest animal produce was important to hominin populations, leading to the perspective that Neanderthals had a very-high-protein diet. But although individual and short-term survival is possible on a relatively low-carbohydrate diet, populations are unlikely to have thrived and reproduced without plants and the carbohydrates they provide. Today, nutritional guidelines recommend that around half the diet should be carbohydrate, while low intake is considered to compromise physical performance and successful reproduction. This is likely to have been the same for Paleolithic populations, highlighting an anomaly in that the basic physiological recommendations do not match the extensive archaeological evidence. Neanderthals had large, energy-expensive brains and led physically active lifestyles, suggesting that for optimal health they would have required high amounts of carbohydrates. To address this anomaly, we begin by outlining the essential role of carbohydrates in the human reproduction cycle and the brain and the effects on physical performance. We then evaluate the evidence for resource availability and the archaeological evidence for Neanderthal diet and investigate three ways that the anomaly between the archaeological evidence and the hypothetical dietary requirements might be explained. First, Neanderthals may have had an as yet unidentified genetic adaptation to an alternative physiological method to spare blood glucose and glycogen reserves for essential purposes. Second, they may have existed on a less-than-optimum diet and survived rather than thrived. Third, the methods used in dietary reconstruction could mask a complex combination of dietary plant and animal proportions. We end by proposing that analyses of Paleolithic diet and subsistence strategies need to be grounded in the minimum recommendations throughout the life course and that this provides a context for interpretation of the archaeological evidence from the behavioral and environmental perspectives.

Meta-Analysis: Paleolithic diet effects on glucose metabolism and lipid profile among patients with metabolic disorders

See modern man walking off that cliff?

From mostly Iran-based researchers, published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition:

Abstract

Objective:

Several randomized clinical trials (RCTs) have investigated the effects of the Paleolithic diet (PD) in adult patients suffering from metabolic disorders. However, the results of these RCTs are conflicting. Therefore, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the effects of the PD in patients with metabolic disorders.

Methods:

We searched the PubMed/Medline, Scopus, Cochrane Databases, Google Scholar, Web of Science, and Embase databases up to June, 2020. The data were pooled using a random-effects model. From the eligible publications, 10 articles were selected for inclusion in this systematic review and meta-analysis. The meta-analysis was performed using a random-effects model. The heterogeneity was determined using the I2 statistics and the Cochrane Q test.

Results:

The pooled results from the random-effects model showed a significant reduction of the homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) (weighted mean difference, WMD: -0.39, 95% CI: -0.70, -0.08), fasting insulin (WMD: -12.17 μU/mL, 95% CI: -24.26, -0.08), total cholesterol (WMD: -0.32 mmol/l, 95% CI: -0.49, -0.15), triglycerides (WMD: -0.29 mmol/L, 95% CI: -0.42, -0.16), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (WMD: -0.35 mmol/L, 95% CI: -0.67, -0.03), blood pressure (BP)(WMD – 5.89 mmHg; 95% CI – 9.973 to – 1.86 for the systolic BP and WMD – 4.01 mmHg; 95% CI – 6.21 to – 1.80 for the diastolic BP values) and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels (WMD: -0.84, mg/L, 95% CI: -1.62, -0.06) in the PD group versus control group.

Conclusions:

Our findings provide better insights into the effect of the PD on the modulation of the glucose and lipid metabolism factors in patients with metabolic disorders, providing comprehensive information for the development of future RCTs with a high quality design.

Source: The effect of paleolithic diet on glucose metabolism and lipid profile among patients with metabolic disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials – PubMed

Some Prehistoric Women Were Big-Game Hunters

caveman, saber-toothed tiger, cavewoman, hunter, hunting, prehistoric, paleo diet
OK, but does she also cook and clean?

From Science Advances:

Sexual division of labor with females as gatherers and males as hunters is a major empirical regularity of hunter-gatherer ethnography, suggesting an ancestral behavioral pattern. We present an archeological discovery and meta-analysis that challenge the man-the-hunter hypothesis. Excavations at the Andean highland site of Wilamaya Patjxa reveal a 9000-year-old human burial (WMP6) associated with a hunting toolkit of stone projectile points and animal processing tools. Osteological, proteomic, and isotopic analyses indicate that this early hunter was a young adult female who subsisted on terrestrial plants and animals. Analysis of Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene burial practices throughout the Americas situate WMP6 as the earliest and most secure hunter burial in a sample that includes 10 other females in statistical parity with early male hunter burials. The findings are consistent with nongendered labor practices in which early hunter-gatherer females were big-game hunters.

Source: Female hunters of the early Americas | Science Advances

Steve Parker, M.D.

For How Long Did Neanderthals Breast-Feed?

For 5-6 months.

Now aren’t you glad you read this blog? Where else you gonna get this vital info?

The discovery is based on dental analysis of a whopping three Neanderthals found in Italy.

The early onset of weaning in modern humans has been linked to the high nutritional demand of brain development that is intimately connected with infant physiology and growth rate. In Neanderthals, ontogenetic patterns in early life are still debated, with some studies suggesting an accelerated development and others indicating only subtle differences vs. modern humans. Here we report the onset of weaning and rates of enamel growth using an unprecedented sample set of three late (∼70 to 50 ka) Neanderthals and one Upper Paleolithic modern human from northeastern Italy via spatially resolved chemical/isotopic analyses and histomorphometry of deciduous teeth. Our results reveal that the modern human nursing strategy, with onset of weaning at 5 to 6 mo, was present among these Neanderthals. This evidence, combined with dental development akin to modern humans, highlights their similar metabolic constraints during early life and excludes late weaning as a factor contributing to Neanderthals’ demise.

Source: Early life of Neanderthals – PubMed

Steve Parker, M.D.

Public health for the hunter-gatherer in us

So cheesy…

From Canadian Journal of Public Health:

Abstract:

In evolutionary terms, the transformations which humans have engendered in social, ecological and built environments are increasingly out of step with their biological makeup. We briefly review the evidence on health-relevant practices and status of our Paleolithic ancestors and contrast these with current food, transportation, work and governance systems with their associated impacts on human health. As public health and planning practitioners engaged in the EcoHealth Ontario Collaborative, we argue for recognition of our hunter-gatherer nature to promote joint efforts in building sustainable and equitable community infrastructures, both built and green. Although such efforts are underway at multiple jurisdictional levels across Canada, the pace is frustratingly slow for the burden of endemic chronic diseases and global environmental change which humans face. Reminding reluctant stakeholders of the hunter-gatherers in us all could bring about deeper reflection on the urgent work in redirecting community planning.

Source: Public health for the hunter-gatherer in us all – PubMed

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Literature Review: Effects of a Paleolithic Diet on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

Cavewomen didn’t have modern=make=up

From Iran and the journal Advances In Nutrition:

Abstract

There is some evidence supporting the beneficial effects of a Paleolithic Diet (PD) on cardiovascular disease risk factors. This diet advises consuming lean meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, and nuts and avoiding intake of grains, dairy products, processed foods, and added sugar and salt. This study was performed to assess the effects of a PD on cardiovascular disease risk factors including anthropometric indexes, lipid profile, blood pressure, and inflammatory markers using data from randomized controlled trials. A comprehensive search was performed in the PubMed, Scopus, ISI Web of Science, and Google Scholar databases up to August, 2018. A meta-analysis was performed using a random-effects model to estimate the pooled effect size. Meta-analysis of 8 eligible studies revealed that a PD significantly reduced body weight [weighted mean difference (WMD) = -2.17 kg; 95% CI: -3.48, -0.87 kg], waist circumference (WMD = -2.90 cm; 95% CI: -4.51, -1.28 cm), body mass index (in kg/m2) (WMD = -1.15; 95% CI: -1.68, -0.62), body fat percentage (WMD = -1.38%; 95% CI: -2.08%, -0.67%), systolic (WMD = -4.24 mm Hg; 95% CI: -7.11, -1.38 mm Hg) and diastolic (WMD = -2.95 mm Hg; 95% CI: -4.72, -1.18 mm Hg) blood pressure, and circulating concentrations of total cholesterol (WMD = -0.22 mg/dL; 95% CI: -0.42, -0.03 mg/dL), TGs (WMD = -0.23 mg/dL; 95% CI: -0.46, -0.01 mg/dL), LDL cholesterol (WMD = -0.13 mg/dL; 95% CI: -0.25, -0.01 mg/dL), and C-reactive protein (CRP) (WMD = -0.41 mg/L; 95% CI: -0.81, -0.008 mg/L) and also significantly increased HDL cholesterol (WMD = 0.05 mg/dL; 95% CI: 0.005, 0.10 mg/dL). However, sensitivity analysis revealed that the overall effects of a PD on lipid profile, blood pressure, and circulating CRP concentrations were significantly influenced by removing some studies, hence the results must be interpreted with caution. Although the present meta-analysis revealed that a PD has favorable effects on cardiovascular disease risk factors, the evidence is not conclusive and more well-designed trials are still needed.

Source: Effects of a Paleolithic Diet on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials – PubMed

An editorial expression of concern about the article:

The Editors have been alerted by a reader with concerns about this meta-analysis. Specifically, the reader noted discrepancies in reported effect sizes and time periods, as well as confidence intervals, none of which the reader was able to reproduce. The Editors have contacted the authors, who have addressed initial concerns. However, due to the extent of the material about which concerns have been raised, the Editors need additional time to re-review this article after corrections have been made.

In the interim, this expression of concern should be taken…

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Evidence for cooked starchy rhizomes in Africa 170,000 years ago

“Grok luv rhizome!”

From a recent article in Science:

Plant carbohydrates were undoubtedly consumed in antiquity, yet starchy geophytes were seldom preserved archaeologically. We report evidence for geophyte exploitation by early humans from at least 170,000 years ago. Charred rhizomes from Border Cave, South Africa, were identified to the genus Hypoxis L. by comparing the morphology and anatomy of ancient and modern rhizomes. Hypoxis angustifolia Lam., the likely taxon, proliferates in relatively well-watered areas of sub-Saharan Africa and in Yemen, Arabia. In those areas and possibly farther north during moist periods, Hypoxis rhizomes would have provided reliable and familiar carbohydrate sources for mobile groups.

Source: Cooked starchy rhizomes in Africa 170 thousand years ago. – PubMed – NCBI

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Dr Georgia Ede: Six Reasons to Go Paleo for Mental Health

paleobetic diet

Prehistoric man would be awestruck seeing this John Deere combine harvesting wheat

From Dr Ede at Psychology Today:

If you are living with a mental health problem of any kind, there are many dietary strategies you can use to try to address the root causes of your symptoms, and the so-called paleo diet is an excellent place to start for just about everyone.

Dr Ede, what’s the evidence for your proposal?

I am not aware of any clinical studies testing the effects of a paleo-style diet on mental health, but in my nutrition consultation service, I have witnessed significant improvements, particularly in certain individuals with depression, anxiety, and ADHD; and I am not alone. Cutting-edge nutritional psychiatrists who recommend paleo style diets include Ann Childers MD in Oregon, Ignacio Cuaranta MD in Argentina, Emily Deans MD in Massachusetts and Kelly Brogan MD in New York.

Read the full article for her nutrition-based justifications.

Source: Six Reasons to Go Paleo for Mental Health | Psychology Today

Steve Parker, M, D.

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But I thought we originated in northeast Africa: Paleontologists trace origins of modern humans to southern Africa

Where am I?

I’m skeptical, and I’m not the only one.

Oct. 29 (UPI) — The earliest ancestors of anatomically modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens, emerged in southern Africa, according to a new study published this week in the journal Nature.

“It has been clear for some time that anatomically modern humans appeared in Africa roughly 200 thousand years ago,” lead researcher Vanessa Hayes, a professor of human genomics at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia, said in a news release. “What has been long debated is the exact location of this emergence and subsequent dispersal of our earliest ancestors.”

Hayes and her colleagues used mitochondrial DNA samples from indigenous Africans to trace the human family tree back to its roots. According to the genetic analysis, the earliest modern humans emerged in an area south of the Zambezi River, in what’s now Botswana.

Source: Paleontologists trace orgins of modern humans to Botswana – UPI.com

Steve Parker, M.D.

Click pic to purchase book at Amazon.com. E-book versions available at Smashwords.com.