Tag Archives: Old Stone Age diet

Alex Hutchinson and Matt Fitzgerald Endorse Old Stone Age Diet?

paleobetic diet, breakfast, paleo diet

Brian’s Berry Breakfast: simply strawberries and walnuts. Nutrient analysis here: https://paleodiabetic.com/2013/02/27/brians-berry-breakfast/

Over at Runner’s World, Alex Hutchinson recommends three good books on nutrition. One is by Matt Fitzgerald called Diet Cults: The Surprising Fallacy at the Core of Nutrition Fads and Guide to Healthy Eating for the Rest of Us. Alex writes, “As you’d expect, he takes shots at various popular diets — Paleo, vegan, low-carb, low-fat, raw, and so on — but this isn’t really a debunking book. Frankly, if you’re a devoted adherent to one of these diets, this book probably won’t change your mind.” Anyway, Mr. Fitzgerald proposes a healthy eating hierarchy. The idea is that, wherever a food lies on the scale, the aim is to eat more of the foods that rank above it, and less of those ranked below it. In other words, generally eat more of the foods at the top of the list.

  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • nuts, seeds, and healthy oils
  • high-quality meat and seafood
  • whole grains
  • dairy
  • refined grains
  •  low-quality meat and seafood
  • sweets
  • fried foods

Those top four items pretty much define a pure paleo diet.

Steve Parker, M.D.

h/t Yoni Freedhoff (His Diet Fix book is one of the three recommended)

Can A Christian Be A Paleo Advocate?

If you’re squeamish about discussions of religion and God, read no further! What follows is controversial and much of it not subject to scientific investigation.

In case you’re wondering, I’m a Christian.  This simply means I believe I was given life by God, that His son Jesus became a man and died for my sins, and that I will have everlasting life in heaven for believing on this.  I strive to live the way God would want me to live, as written in the Holy Bible.  I was brought up in the Catholic faith, even attending parochial school in grades 1-8, but I’m Protestant now.  I went through an agnostic period between the ages of 19 to about 38—I’m glad I made it through that alive!

I’ve been learning more about paleo eating over the last year since it overlaps a fair amount with low-carb eating. (Paleo-style eating is also referred to as ancestral, Old Stone Age, hunter-gatherer, or the caveman diet.) The Paleolithic Era covers about 1.5 to 2 million years of human evolution, admitting that there probably hasn’t been much genetic change over the last 50,000 years (debatable). The cornerstone of paleo eating is that we should eat the things we are evolutionarily adapted to eat. We’ll be healthier that way. We didn’t have corn chips, soda pop, and candy bars 20,000 years ago, so we shouldn’t be eating them now.

Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Various species of animals thrive on certain foods and not others. My horses eat three meals a day – all hay; you and I couldn’t survive on that.

I have a college degree in Zoology, so I was thoroughly indoctrinated in Charles Darwin‘s evolutionary theory, at least the version current in the mid-1970s. Darwin’s theory requires no God, or didn’t include a role for God or gods. How Darwinians answer the question of Creation, I don’t know.

Many proponents of evolutionary theory seem to be atheist or agnostic. Natural selection determines who lives or dies, not the hand of God. Some brands of Christianity, but not all, reject the idea of human evolution in its entirety. They believe God created us just as we are about 6,000 years ago. So can a Christian be a paleo diet advocate?

(I don’t know where Judaism, Islam, and other major religions stand on evolution.)

Human evolution is central to paleo diet theory. A religious person may reject the idea of human evolution; can he nevertheless participate in the modern “paleo community”?

I believe God made us and the universe. There’s no proof – it’s a matter of faith. I don’t know if He made us 6,000 years ago or two million.  The bulk of the science speaks clearly against 6,000 years ago.

Our bodies are made to thrive on certain foods and not others.  That’s true for all animals.  If you find an injured bird in your yard and hope to nurse it back to health,  you better find out what it eats naturally and provide it, or you’ll fail.  The range of foods humans can thrive on is pretty broad. Whether the optimal way of eating is determined by godless evolutionary processes or by the intelligent design of a Creator doesn’t matter so much if you’re looking at it from a purely nutritional viewpoint.

From an “everlasting life” viewpoint, it matters.  Big time.

The paleo guys might be right about the best way to eat. Science continues to accumulate evidence one way or the other.

Christianity and paleo diet theory are not mutually exclusive. A Christian can ignore the possiblity of a million years of evolution, believing instead that God made our bodies in such a way that we’d be healthier eating certain foods and not others. Those foods may be the components of the paleo diet, whatever that is.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Further reading:

Carl Drews has written extensively on Christianity and Evolution, including his essay on Theistic Evolution.

Phil Porvaznik’s article on theistic evolution and the Roman Catholic Church.

Wikipedia: Catholic Church and Evolution.

Can a Christian follow a paleo low-carb diet? at Jimmy Moore’s Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb blog.

A few questions for the atheists.  Where did the universe come from?  Was it created? By whom or what?  What if God exists, and he made us for a reason and wants us to live a certain way?

Consider this excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s book, “Einstein: His Life and Universe”:

One evening in Berlin, [Albert] Einstein and his wife were at a dinner party when a guest expressed a belief in astrology. Einstein ridiculed the notion as pure superstition. Another guest stepped in and similarly disparaged religion. Belief in God, he insisted, was likewise a superstition.

At this point the host tried to silence him by invoking the fact that even Einstein harbored religious beliefs.

“It isn’t possible!” the skeptical guest said, turning to ask Einstein if he was, in fact, religious.

“Yes, you can call it that,” Einstein replied calmly. “Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything we can comprehend is my religion. To that extent, I am, in fact, religious.”

Old Stone Age Diet Depended On Latitude

There isn’t any single Stone Age diet, according to J.A.J. Gowlett, who (whom?) I assume is an archeologist with the University of Liverpool.

(I was tempted to write “there isn’t a monolithic Stone Age diet.”  Get it?  “Lith” is Greek or Latin for “stone.”)

This is probably old new for you guys who have been interested in the paleo diet for much longer than I.

Here are a few more of Gowlett’s ideas:

  • The Stone Age is is more accurately referred to as the Old Stone Age.
  • Hominids (the family of human ancestors) branched off from ape ancestors around eight to 10 million years ago.
  • Roots and tubers have been a part of our ancestral diet for perhaps as long as three million years,  which “places starchy carbohydrate consumption as part of the deep ancestry of human beings.”
  • Meat eating assumed greater importance about two million years ago.
  • Migration to colder environments necessitated more meat consumption because plant foods were more limited.
  • Our ancestors migrated from tropical to temperate latitudes about by 1.7 million years ago.
  • Early humans began using fire for cooking between 500,000 to 1.5 million years ago.
  • Neanderthals were heavily carnivorous.
  • “Ancestors of modern humans are now believed to have evolved in the tropics, probably in Africa, from about 200,000 years ago.”  Their diet was perhaps 70% plant-based.
  • “In contrast, modern humans entering Europe 40,000 years ago would have adopted a meat-based diet by necessity, and maintained this over hundreds of generations.”
  • “Modern hunters and gatherers echo the variety of past diets, ranging from largely plant based in the tropics, to being also heavily meat based in the arctic.”
  • No ancient human population depended heavily on cereals or non-human milk.  “Fruit certainly came first of all….”

Potential Implications For a Paleo Diabetic Diet (highly speculative)

Diabetics with tropical lineage may do better with a plant-based diet.  Those with northern European ancestry may do better with meat-based.

Paleo diets likely had very high fiber contents, reflecting the degree to which they were plant-based.  We’re looking at 70+ grams of fiber daily.  That much fiber would tend to reduce the effect of carbohydrate on blood sugar levels.

Fruits and roots have a high concentration of carbohydrate, with potential adverse effects on blood sugar (raising it, of course).  Diabetics eating paleo-style may need to avoid or limit certain fruits and roots: the ones with lower fiber content and higher glycemic index.  Blood sugar responses will vary from one diabetic to another.  Monitor blood sugar levels one or two hours after carb consumption to learn your idiosyncratic response.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Gowlett, J.A.J.  What actually was the Stone Age diet?  Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, 13 (2003): 143-147.