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The Hunger Project Bolen Report
Ohm Society
Paleolithic Diet Print E-mail
by Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa, CA

Dr. Kennedy

Backdround and History

For those who believe in evolution, we are obviously the heirs of inherited characteristics accrued over millions of years. The vast majority of our biochemistry and physiology are tuned to life conditions that existed before the invention of agriculture some 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. Genetically our bodies are virtually the same as they were at the end of the Paleolithic period about 20,000 years ago. Supporters of this theory argue that human genetics have changed very little since the Stone Age, and therefore an ideal diet is a reconstructed prehistoric diet similar to the one humans used before the Neolithic Revolution. Through studying archeology and modern hunter-gatherers it could be determined what a healthy diet would look like. Interest in Paleolithic nutrition has grown in recent years due to a convergence of considerations resulting in low carbohydrate diets becoming more popular. The two practices have certain similarities. This dietary concept is concerned primarily with health issues, as opposed to ethical or economic concerns. Advocates of the Paleolithic diet believe that the best foods for the human body are those that humans are best adapted to eat, arguing that many modern ailments are diet related and can be avoided using the Paleo diet approach.

The Neolithic Revolution

The "Neolithic Revolution" refers to the first agricultural revolution, describing the transition from nomadic hunting and gathering tribes to geographically stable agricultural production of food stuffs. This was first adopted by various independent prehistoric human societies in numerous locations on most continents between 10-12 thousand years ago. The term refers to both the general time period over which these initial developments took place and to the changes to Neolithic human societies which resulted from or was associated with the adoption of early farming techniques as well as the domestication of animals. This first agricultural revolution introduced dramatic social changes: dramatic increase in population density, specialization in non-agricultural crafts, artistry and capendery, furniture skills, barter and trade, the organization of hierarchical society, slavery, armies, and the state itself, marriage, personal inheritance and official religions. This revolution marked an expansion of human control over nature and of humans over other humans. Once agriculture started gaining momentum, humans were unknowingly altering the genetic make-up of certain cereal grasses.

Foods in the diet

Foods included in the diet are ones obtainable using Paleolithic tools and practices, for example meat - preferably wild game, though many eat farmed meat for practical reasons - fish, gathered fruits, leaves and roots of plants, mushrooms, nuts, honey and eggs. Some advocates allow the use of oils derived from those foods which can be obtained and produced through Paleolithic means which are edible in their natural, uncooked state. Examples include olive, sesame, and safflower oils, but not oils derived from beans or grains. Others avoid the use of any oil since it is a processed food. The non-animal foods available in the diet are identiacl to those available in the raw vegan diet. However, there are two differences between raw veganism and the Paleolithic diet: meat and other animal products are consumed and second cooking is allowed.

Foods not in the diet

Vegetable foods which cannot be eaten in the raw and unprocessed condition are excluded from the diet. The foods falling into this category are mainly grains (corn, wheat, rice, etc.), certain starchy vegetables (e.g. potatoes and legumes), some fruits and nuts (e.g. cashews and peanuts), and refined sugars. Alcoholic beverages are excluded because fermentation is also a form of processing, although some advocates allow certain exceptions (e.g. wine, since fermented - that is to say over-ripe - fruit can be found in nature and consumed in small quantities with little ill effect). Dairy products are excluded because they cannot be found or consumed easily in nature, at least in any considerable quantity, and are a post-agricultural revolution class of food.

The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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