Comparison of Paleolithic and Modern Diets
Protein and Fat.
cavemen, undomesticated animals provided most of the protein and a
higher percentage of omega 3 fatty acids compared to omega 6. North
Americans consume much higher rates of omega 6 to omega 3’s. We now know
that too much omega 6 has a negative impact on our health and the
importance of including in our menus more foods containing omega 3.
Vitamins, Mineral, and Fibre.
obtained these nutrients from over 100 different species of fruits and
vegetables, which were eaten raw or with very little processing. These
sources, as well as roots, legumes, and nuts, led to better bowel
movements. Few North Americans meet the recommended daily servings of
fruits and vegetables and even these have reduced vitamin/mineral
content. Phytochemicals, important for immune system support, are also
greatly lacking in our green-harvested produce. In addition, cooking
further reduces vitamin content. Much of our fiber comes from cereal
grains containing phytic acid which lowers mineral absorption.
compensate, many people take a vitamin/mineral supplement. However,
most of these are synthetic. In addition to having a low absorption
rate, recent studies indicate they can have a negative effect on our
health. In 1939, Nobel laureate Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi conducted a
double blind study on vitamin C to determine its effectiveness in curing
scurvy. The study showed that food sourced vitamin C cured scurvy;
synthetic vitamin C did not.
difference in sodium and potassium consumed is also notable. The
average adult American consumes about 4000 mg of sodium, over 90% of
which is added to food during cooking, processing and seasoning.
Potassium intake is about 3000 mg daily. In contrast, early humans
consumed about 600 mg of sodium and 7,000 mg of potassium daily.
man obtained most of his carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables. In
contrast, most of our carbohydrates come from sugars, sweeteners and
refined flours, which are all lacking in vitamins, minerals, essential
amino and fatty acids.
are all well aware of the explosion in the rates of serious health
issues such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer and more. While
many people will find a strict Paleo diet too stringent to follow, we
can all benefit from altering our food choices to include the types of
foods consumed prehistoric ancestors.