Tag Archives: Melissa McEwen

Was It the Paleo Diet or Acorns or ? That Rotted These Teeth?

“Basically, nearly everybody in the population had caries,” or tooth decay, says Louise Humphrey, a paleo-anthropologist with the Natural History Museum in London.

Humphrey says 94 percent of the more than 50 people from the cave she studied had serious tooth decay. “I was quite surprised by that,” says Humphrey. “I haven’t seen that extent of caries in other ancient populations.”

Certainly, life was brutal and short for Stone Age folks, what with saber tooth cats, parasites, and not an aspirin to be found anywhere. But at least the paleo diet — meat, tubers, berries, maybe some primitive vegetables and very few carbs— was supposed to be good for the teeth. Carbohydrates can turn sugary in your mouth, then bacteria turn that into enamel-eating acid.

But apparently, these ancient people had a thing for acorns.

“Acorns,” says Humphrey, “are high in carbohydrates. They also have quite a sticky texture. So they would have adhered easily to the teeth.”

Read the whole thing.

Click to see the study abstract.

h/t Melissa McEwen