02 Oct Paleo Debunked
The Paleo diet became a topic of interest in 1985, when a prominent article hypothesized the explanation for persistent disease among the human race. The article claimed that the drastic change in diet between prehistoric and modern times resulted in heighted health risks and recommended the return to a Stone-Age-era diet of red and lean meats, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.
While this notion seems factual, there are some holes in the logic behind it. For example, if we were intended to be carnivorous, why didn’t our bodies evolve to resist cholesterol? The American Journal of Cardiology pointed out that when dogs evolved from wolves, they maintained resistance to atherosclerosis. Other animals that are accustomed to a plant-based diet develop clogged arteries in as little as several weeks, just as humans do when they consume foods high in cholesterol.
This not only proves that the human body was not intended to adapt to eating a meat-based diet; it also explains why we are so susceptible to heart disease. Since humans stuck to a diet of healthy plants for the first 90% of our evolution, our bodies stored whatever cholesterol was ingested. Fast-forward to the modern diet of the average American, full of processed meats and cheeses; with the body still storing all the cholesterol in these foods, it is no wonder that heart disease is the number one cause of death.
Another reason the human susceptibility to heart disease was not realized or linked to the consumption of meat during the Paleolithic era is simply because humans did not live long enough. With the average age of death being 25, the people of this era did not need to worry about any sort of diet, just as we would not today if we knew we would die shortly after puberty.
In 2010, the authors of the article that inspired the Paleo diet stated that they never meant to recommend any specific diet based only on the grounds that our ancestors kept it. Since research has shown us time and time again that a plant-based diet is the only one to significantly lower the risks of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, it seems clear that this is the lifestyle we are meant to be embracing.
To watch Dr. Greger’s discussion of the Paleo diet, click here!
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