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Everything You Believe About What Paleoman Ate Is Way Wrong

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It’s just not way wrong, it’s astoundingly, embarrassingly wrong.

The story goes like this. A long time ago, in a land far far away, folks like Loren Cordain and S. Boyd Eaton got together and did a study.

Plant-animal subsistence ratios and macronutrient energy estimations in worldwide hunter-gatherer diets (2000)

…Because the hunter-gatherer way of life is now probably extinct in its purely un-Westernized form, nutritionists and anthropologists must rely on indirect procedures to reconstruct the traditional diet of preagricultural humans. […] Our analysis showed that whenever and wherever it was ecologically possible, hunter-gatherers consumed high amounts (45–65% of energy) of animal food. Most (73%) of the worldwide hunter-gatherer societies derived >50% (≥56–65% of energy) of their subsistence from animal foods, whereas only 14% of these societies derived >50% (≥56–65% of energy) of their subsistence from gathered plant foods. This high reliance on animal-based foods coupled with the relatively low carbohydrate content of wild plant foods produces universally characteristic macronutrient consumption ratios in which protein is elevated (19–35% of energy) at the expense of carbohydrates (22–40% of energy).

Sound familiar? Isn’t that representative of the basic paleo narrative since forever? What if it’s all wrong? Anyone hear anything about this research below—available since early in 2016—in any of your favorite paleo channels?  I plugged around and couldn’t find any.

Eat first, share later: Hadza hunter–gatherer men consume more while foraging than in central places

The foraging and food sharing of hunter–gatherers have provided the backdrop to several different evolutionary hypotheses about human life history. Men’s foraging has often been characterized as primarily targeting animals, with high variance and high rates of failure. To the best of our knowledge, however, there are as yet no quantitative studies reporting the amounts of food that men eat while foraging, before returning to their households either empty-handed or with foods. Here, we document this under-reported part of forager’s diets—men’s eating while out of camp on foray. Our dataset consists of 146 person/day follows (921 hours total) collected over a period of 12 years (from 2001–2013, including 12 camps). Hadza men consumed a substantial amount of food while out of camp foraging. Men did more than just snack while out of camp foraging, they consumed a mean of 2,405 kilocalories per foray, or approximately 90% of what is estimated to be their mean daily total energy expenditure (TEE). The characterization of men’s foraging strategies as “risky”, in terms of calorie acquisition, may be exaggerated. Returning to camp empty-handed did not necessarily mean the forager had failed to acquire food, only that he failed to produce enough surplus to share. Surprisingly, the vast majority of the kilocalories eaten while out of camp came from honey (85%). These observations are relevant to evolutionary theories concerning the role of male provisioning. Understanding primary production and consumption is critical for understanding the nature of sharing and the extent to which sharing and provisioning supports reproduction in hunter–gatherers.

Quite a contrast. Basically, you’re dealing with the idea that everything consumed was consumed in camp, and the archeological record of campsites tell that story, vs. what really happened; which is, for the men, most food was eaten out of camp and it was pretty high-carbohydrate.

Alex Leaf, blogging at Superhumanradio, did a breakout of the full tex of that study. One important aspect of the study methods is that there were no interactions between the Hadza and the researchers, in order to minimize the observer effect. At any rate, the research did take place over a span of 12 years and covered all seasons and, of course, many variations in year-on-year variability. In other words, this is no mere snapshot.

According to Alex’s review of the full text, “[t]he Hadza walkabouts lasted anywhere from 30 minutes to nearly 13 hours in duration, but the average was about 6 hours long with 90% lasting more than 2 hours.” And, “[t]here was tremendous variation in the amount of calories eaten while on a walkabout, with a range of zero to 22,000 kcal eaten by a single individual. Men consumed more than 1,000 kcal in 55% of the walkabouts, less than 500 kcal in 45%, and zero kcal in 20%.”

Here’s how it breaks out in a chart.

b2ap3_medium_Hadza_fig2

While there are differences in small game vs. large game seasonally, there sure is one constant: honey, and in no small quantities. Says Alex:

When looking at the various foraged foods in terms of the ratio consumed on the spot relative to the total amount acquired, berries (99%), honey (84%), and baobab (63%) were the highest. The average percentage of meat from a kill that was immediately consumed by the Hadza men depended on the animal, being about 55% for small game vs less than 1% for large game.

Overall, ~80% of the game animal acquired were small game. The larger the small game, the more that was eaten on the spot. Similarly, the more honey that was acquired, the more that was eaten on the spot. Interestingly, walkabout duration and the age of the male were not associated with the amount of calories eaten during the walkabouts nor with the percentage of acquired food that was eaten on the spot.

So, remind me about this Paleofantasy, low-carb, high-fat, big-game hunting, again. It’s really dismal, when you consider the astounding enormity of how far off they were, and how profoundly it has shaped the thinking, the advice, the products…literally everything! Virtually all of it is based on utter falsehood, in my view, and nobody within the community appears to care enough to even address it.

Of course, you may surely still argue that the current reenactment of “paleo” is healthier than what true hunter-grather Hadza actually do, but you’re making a new argument, then, and it’s not based on any particular valid observational data. You can revert to the Inuit, a people not particularly noted for pristine longevity and health—nor would you reasonably expect it. They live at the extreme–it’s an example of resilience and survivability. Why would you want to base your dietary habits on extremes, and especially when you do have lots of data on populations that enjoy profound longevity: Blue Zones? And if you look deeper, you’ll find that the actual, real, observed Hadza diet is a lot closer to those diets than to Inuit diets.

And of course, the Hadza diet is not going to represent every population’s diet on Earth, throughout history. However, in a behavioral sense, it does suggest that carbohydrate is not at all shunned in favor of the big fatty game fantasy. Rather, it is highly prized and sought after, both as sugar and as starch. Accordingly, it would be a big surprise if there were populations with access to carbohydrate, but eschewed it. That would constitute a cognitively dissonant fantasy.

Let’s conclude with Alex’s summary, emphasis mine:

Based on previous calculations of energy expenditure of the Hadza tribesmen, it can be estimated that they consume roughly 90% of their total daily energy expenditure (on average) while foraging outside of camp. Of course, there is significant variation in these values, with one-fifth of the forages resulting in no acquired food. Still, up to this point, researchers have represented the Hadza diet using only in-camp data, which is going to be inaccurate in light of their foraging habits.

These findings compliment other Hadza research showing that men consumed little of the food they brought back to camp themselves, instead sharing it with their kin. This sharing now makes sense, because the men have already eaten while out foraging and can therefore spare the food. Indeed, it may be that Hadza men’s foraging is driven by the goals of getting enough calories to eat themselves, and only potentially provisioning their families. The fact that the energy-dense foods such as honey and ripe berries are eaten on the spot almost entirely may simply be a strategy to both feed themselves and pursue riskier food types (i.e., animals) that have a higher chance of failure upon pursuit. Thus, coming back empty-handed may not always represent that food acquisition failed, but rather that it failed to produce a surplus to share.

The current study makes clear that the Hadza diet is strikingly different outside of camp than inside camp. With only 16% of all acquired honey brought into camp and contributing 85% of the calories consumed while foraging (depending on the season), it is likely that honey consumption in the Hadza population is underreported, meaning that carbohydrate and sugar consumption is underreported as well. In fact, a recent study using a large cross-cultural database showed that most hunter-gatherers in warm climates exploit honey, suggesting that the Hadza tribe may not be the only hunter-gatherer tribe to have a significantly higher carbohydrate intake than we were led to believe.

Another interesting observation is the difference in nutrient and caloric density of the Hadza men’s and women’s diets. The women eat primarily within camp and thus focus their consumption on the tubers they gathered in combination with any game that was brought into camp. Additionally, 80% of the game is small and therefore lean. Thus, the women’s diet is likely focused on starchy carbohydrates and protein, whereas the men’s diet is sugary carbohydrates and protein. Either way, these certainly were not low-carbohydrate diets.

Will anything come of this? I predict that it will certainly be completely ignored, shrugged off, or otherwise dismissed in the entirety of the paleo community. It’s just too inconvenient. Too much is already invested in the fantasy status-quo. Better to pretend it doesn’t even exist. We’ll see. Hope I’m wrong.


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Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

103 Comments

  1. Evolutionarily on September 6, 2016 at 15:38

    The gap between Ray Peat and “Paleo” narrows…

    • Paleophil on September 7, 2016 at 04:19

      Yup and one nice thing about Peat is that he encourages people to think for themselves, though some still make dogma out of his views and practices.



    • Paleophil on September 7, 2016 at 04:31

      Thanks for this science-backed honey homily, Richard. Now maybe my honey “habit” will seem less strange. 😉
      https://freetheanimal.com/2013/09/paleophil-uses-resistant-starch-to-hugely-blunt-bg-spikes-for-his-raw-fermented-honey-habit.html Most times I’ve tried to discuss honey or tubers in Paleolithic diets, LC Paleoists have come up with excuses for why it must not be important. Any VLC proponents who do respond to this article will pull out some of them. Old dogma dies hard.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 7, 2016 at 08:56

      Hey Philippe!

      Well, the post is up to 180 shares on FB in just 18 hours, so now trying to figure out what 2nd gear is going to be.

      Chewing on it.



  2. Tim Steele on September 6, 2016 at 15:23

    The fact that they ate so much carbohydrate is a symptom that something was wrong with these people. Perhaps they all had SIBO from the lack of quality fat which was undoubtedly preferred…Remember: “There is no requirement for carbohydrate (Gedgaudas, 2016).”

    • Arthur Haines on September 6, 2016 at 17:52

      Tim Steele, if I interpret your comment correctly, it appears you are saying that the paleo diet hypothesis is perfectly sound, but that there is something wrong with the people on which the hypothesis is based (in part). While the living Hadza are not Paleolithic people (obviously), they are used as a next-best representative of what Paleolithic people may have consumed or the kinds of ratios of macronutrients that may have been consumed (which is why people like Loren Cordain study them). To me, this reads more like the paleo diet requires adjustment (or at least recognition that it can include more variability than many consider appropriate).



    • Nenad Kojic on September 6, 2016 at 22:42

      Tim is just having a bit of fun on Nora’s account. In the Q&A of her latest talk at the AHS, she said to one guy, who told her that his health improved when he added starches to his diet, that he must be sick because he needs carbohydrate, and that he better finds out why he needs them, before they ruin his health.

      Nora is funny. 🙂



    • Arthur Haines on September 7, 2016 at 06:13

      Nenad Kojic, thank you for filling me in. Richard Nikoley sent me an email recently letting me know the comment was in jest. I did not know Tim and was unaware that he was referencing something else (though it is quite funny now that I know). Thank you and best wishes to you.



    • Jack Freeman on September 20, 2016 at 03:34

      Would like to hear your genuine interpretation of this post, Arthur. Big fan of your books and podcasts with Vitalis.
      J



    • thhq on September 7, 2016 at 08:13

      Not to forget their perpetual leaky gut agonies.



    • Monkey Headlock on September 10, 2016 at 14:46

      Tim Steele’s parody comment is good, but not as good as this hilarious parody of leftist racist noncesense. At least I hope it’s a parody…

      https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/10/as-lionel-shriver-made-light-of-identity-i-had-no-choice-but-to-walk-out-on-her



    • Carlos on October 8, 2016 at 13:37

      Low carb is becoming like Veganism, a cult around food. The other day I read a women calling the author carbophilic or something like that, like it was a sin. Americans no longer know how to eat, and go from an extreme to another and treating it like a religion, very sad and pathetic. Humans can have good health eating very different macronutrient ratios and food sources. Weston Price, read his book is old but a gem that includes beautiful photos of people faces with perfect teeth, observed very different diets on very different human -healthy- populations. The x factor was high densitiy of liposoluble vitamins and minerals, and the food quality (unprocessed, no Logos or brands on it, no fake foods) In my country – Spain – our traditional diet is high on carbs but we have top 5 longevity in the world. Is getting worse because we are eating more processed shit. Japan is first, lot of carbs there. It also depends on your genetic background what diet suits you best. One man’s medicine is another man’s poison.



  3. king of the one eyed people on September 6, 2016 at 17:05

    This is huge – bigger than Minger’s debunking of both the China Study and the food pyramid I would guess.

    The big seasonal variations in calories are interesting too. Even someonetrying to eat 30 bananas a day would eat more in warm, wet, moist months than cold, dry months.

  4. king of the one eyed people on September 6, 2016 at 17:09

    When I say ‘huge’, it’s all relative. Nothing will be bigger than “no soap, no shampoo”.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 6, 2016 at 23:41

      Fucker. You just made me spit all over my iPad.

      LOL.



    • gabkad on September 9, 2016 at 14:31

      Fossilized turds appear to show that a lot of plant material was consumed.

      Quite frankly I don’t give a flying about the Hadza. There’s only something like 1000 of them in total and only 200 to 300 of them live a foraging lifestyle most of the time. And not all the time. Even the unassimilated ones have been assimilated because they work on farms and stuff like that. They are eating maize.



  5. Jennifer Wilson on September 6, 2016 at 20:14

    The paleo diet is so flawed Mark Sisson has to “debunk” research that disproves it on a regular basis. Wait- he’s primal, not paleo! My bad.

    No, this research won’t be making any waves in the community. They have way too much invested.

    • king of the one eyed people on September 6, 2016 at 22:26

      Like I said. This is huge. There are so many vested interests in the existing dogma though – books, mayonnaise, supplements, keto sticks etc. They need some angry dick and I suspect Richard is just the man to give it to them.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 7, 2016 at 00:05

      Ha. Give me a chance to work the back channels, already in process.

      Kinder, gentler Angry Dick.



    • Gabe on September 7, 2016 at 04:19

      I haven’t read Sisson in a while, but he seems like the kind of guy who might actually read and at least try to synthesize this. It may not ultimately change his whole “sugar/fat burner” shtick, as someone Richard identifies in the above as espousing a new narrative of health independent of paleo re-creation. But here lies another opportunity for some of the establishment to differentiate themselves from the traditional paleo pack.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 7, 2016 at 08:46

      Gabe.

      Had a brief exchange with Mark last night about this.

      While I never reveal specifics about our discussions, I’m confident that Mark will take this very seriously and keep a close eye on developments.

      There’s nothing wrong with what Mark sells already. Could be as simple as adding “Primal Honey” to the product lineup. Mark is a smart, shrewd business guy, and he’s going to approach this from an angle of increasing his business, not diminish it on whatever grounds. And in that context, this only opens things up way, way wider for a vast array of Primal brand products.

      The bright side.



    • LaFrite on September 7, 2016 at 05:33

      Nanana, they will say it’s the Hadza diet, not the Paleo Diet (TM). Remember, Cordain trademarked the PD and it can contain whatever his fancy dictates …

      All this paleo fable is ridiculous of course.



    • Charles on September 13, 2016 at 09:22

      Mark is one of the good guys/gals in all this, and always seems to be willing to examine new ideas. He’s anything but a fundamentalist.



  6. Antonio on September 7, 2016 at 00:42

    At the end ‘Paleo’ -in the Dobzhansky sense- will be whatever is the true.
    This is bigger than Cordain.

    • Paleophil on September 7, 2016 at 04:24

      Yeah, true Paleo is about Eaton’s original theory of biological adaptation, Dobzhansky, etc., not specific low carb diet recommendations that are mere guesses.



  7. sassysquatch on September 7, 2016 at 02:19

    I wonder if Cordain and his buddies did any research on human coprolites or Paleo poo? Ancient peoples of the Americas coprolites are showing consumption of 100 to 200 grams of fiber a day. That’s a bunch of fiber and you sure don’t get it from animal foods!

    • Paleophil on September 7, 2016 at 18:43

      They poo-pooed 😉 the coprolite evidence1, except when it appeared to support one of their views2.

      1 “Coprolites are fossilized fecal remains and, except for bones and feathers, do not contain any digestive remnants of animal flesh and organs. Consequently, coprolites almost universally can only reveal the plant food types in the diet and cannot quantitatively show the relative amounts of plant and animal food proportions. Stable isotope studies of the collagen in Stone Age humans (living in England 13,000 years ago) show that their diet (in terms of protein content and quality) was indistinguishable from top-level trophic carnivores such as foxes and wolves.” (originally FAQ #27 at , now gone)

      2 “Nutritional strategies for skeletal and cardiovascular health: hard bones, soft arteries, rather than vice versa,” Open Heart, 2016, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4809188



    • thhq on September 8, 2016 at 09:59

      I think that Cordain got paleo diet right, more or less, for Nordic conditions. The UK tribal Stone Age coprolite corresponds with modern Salish, Siouxan and Inuit high protein diets. Where meat is the most available food, people adapt to eating it within days, not millenia. However, the same Asiatic migrants easily adapted to eating high carbohydrate diets in central and south America. Peruvian potato farmers and Makah whale hunters both descend from the same ancestry.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 8, 2016 at 13:55

      You’re going to love my podacst with Alex Leaf, then.

      We sort of accidentally come full circle.



    • gabkad on September 9, 2016 at 14:35

      If you want soft arteries, drink wine. If you drink too much you’ll screw up your liver of course. All the blab blab about how many drinks men and women can have every week is so puritanical. Just don’t gobble down your wine and you’ll be fine. That’s my view and I’m sticking to it. Cheers.



    • Karl on September 9, 2016 at 15:36

      I cannot agree more. And yes it is wine, not beer or hard liquor. I used to be a beer drinker, gave me several problems on the in and out. With wine; nothing.
      As for the liver: olive oil and Arginine and you’re fine. Also: learn to know your limits; it is amazing what 1 glass too much can do. One bottle and everything is fine next day, one glass more and you suffer!



    • hap on September 10, 2016 at 17:38

      You are just a corproate lobbyist:)



  8. yon cassius on September 7, 2016 at 06:31

    Jennifer, you may need to revisit Sisson… He recommends avoiding poisonous foods – toxins/chemicals/hidden sugars etc etc. His first premise is : eats lots of well sourced animals and plants – he says for optimum health diet is just one element and for your diet he recommends : quality sources of protein (all forms of meat, fowl, fish), lots of colorful vegetables, some select fruits (mostly berries), and healthy fats (nuts, avocados, olive oil).
    Sounds pretty sensible to me. His ‘primal’ plan is not just about diet either – plenty in there on sleep/walking/playing etc. He doesn’t call it paleo coz it isn’t paleo. I’ve no vested interest, I am generally quite cynical but time and again he bowls me over with his common sense approach and his frequent well founded debunking of conventional wisdom.

  9. Marc on September 7, 2016 at 06:50

    How many folks (like me) totally bought this paleo fantasy.? Take a look how commercial its gone in just 5 years and it gives some insight just how many people refuse to think for themselves,

    My two biggest dis-connects since starting to think things through for myself around 2009-10.

    1. Rice, potatoes, legumes are BAD for you- As simple as the majority of the worlds population eats these staples daily…. Common sense right ..and yet.

    2. Watch any good National Geographic or PBS (or similar) documentary on hunter-gatther tribes and you can see for yourself that eating an entire wooly mammoth or similar really doesn’t happen often,…it’s actually the exception to the rule. Normally a hunting party of 5-12 men catch a measily little 2-3 pound bird which is cooked and shared between many/everyone

    Years ago when I pointed this out to paleo converts, they simply brushed over this fact as if it was total bs.
    That always got me a bit crazy. Tribes don’t eat a whole fucking chicken by themselves….unless they are the last
    tribe member 🙂

    • thhq on September 7, 2016 at 08:36

      The Catalhoyuk paintings show the large hunting parties needed to capture an auroch in ca 9000 BC. A mammoth was even less attainable. When your main weapons are sticks and small pieces of sharp rock the game is small and very stupid.

      I discarded the notion that Paleos lifted heavy things a few years ago. Bombing mastodons with rocks Flintstone-style wasn’t how they hunted. Paleos carried heavy things for a mile or two. Steady stoop labor, not clean-and-jerk reps.



  10. thhq on September 7, 2016 at 08:24

    Nice bar graphs, which show the extreme variability. Denise did a bit on the uber sweet wild African fruits a few years ago. But this points out the beeline that Paleos made to the honey trees.

    Each of those bar graph sets would also be highly variable with the seasons. In my area, the Coast Salish tribes would travel 100-200 miles to points of seasonal gathering. Salmon, smelt, huckleberries, nuts and the edible roots are only available in short time windows.

  11. Hap on September 7, 2016 at 08:50

    Not sure how any of this Hazda lifestyle and diet pertains…..especially to me. I don’t know what their ratio of sitting around to expending massive calories on “walkabouts”……but they seem to be extremely active beyond my capacity. I can understand why honey so important to survival.

    So now….given that I have to work at computer most of day……….

    • Richard Nikoley on September 7, 2016 at 09:24

      For me, it’s that nature includes sugar and starch too. They are whole foods just as much as an animal.

      It is interesting that the mens’ source of carb is predominately sugar, being out and about, whereas, for the sedentary women, more starch based. Another good takeaway.



  12. Hap on September 7, 2016 at 09:48

    There was a Nat Geo program where hide covered woman and man set out across savannah looking to cross with no shelter or food. They struck gold with honey and dug up tubers.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 7, 2016 at 10:32

      The idea that hunting animals for reliable nutrition is getting dumber and dumber.



    • king of the one eyed people on September 9, 2016 at 05:14

      Cannibals would have had a regular and reliable supply of meat – almost no hunting effort required. Try it and see.



    • Sandy on September 18, 2016 at 09:14

      “The idea that hunting animals for reliable nutrition is getting dumber and dumber.”

      From what I read, early humans may still have tried to do this. I say that, because the evidence suggests that when Home Sapiens spread into a new land mass (Australia, Americas), many of the larger animal species tended to go extinct shortly after. Of course, this kind of hunting to extinction would have been a relatively recent development (last 50,000 years), only a bit older than agriculture. Homo Erectus, which lived throughout Africa and Eurasia, was apparently not as prolific an animal killer, and probably ate more like a forager. Given that Homo Erectus walked the earth for 2,000,000 years before Sapiens showed up (evolved), I would guess that our biology was more strongly shaped by how Home Erectus lived than anything which has happened in the last 70,000 years (be it agriculture or hyperproductive hunting of large game).



    • Angelo Coppola on September 21, 2016 at 14:50

      One school of thought suggests people would be more inclined to hunt when they were already well fed and nourished. There is, after all, a good amount of effort involved, especially when compared to going after tubers and other fall-back foods. Also…what about bugs? Possibly the easiest meat to acquire, very nutrient dense, and it’s probably no evolutionary accident that human gut juices include chitinase, which digests chitin, which is what insect exoskeletons are mostly made of.



  13. Hap on September 7, 2016 at 09:52

    However i am buying into Jason fungs contention that lchf and intermittent fasting a way to beat diabetes.

    The data supports this kind oh intervention.

    I am dubious of radical long term ketogenic diet.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 7, 2016 at 10:36

      It may work. However, we know that bariatric surgery cures it on the spot, and so does 800 cal per day, for most.

      And it doesn’t involve tons of twists in logic. It’s simple.



    • hap on September 7, 2016 at 20:52

      Apparently, the physiology and biology of bariatric surgery and that of fasting is very similar, despite the obvious differences.

      Chronic calorie reduction will alter metabolism and is the main reason why diets do not work long term. Bariatric surgery is a different animal….but fasting most clearly mimics.

      The theory (and practice) seem to support that you hit more of the variables at play in diabetes if you go with LCHF and fasting. For some the fasting will do it without the LCHF. However, chronic and excessive carbohydrate (yes I know all carbs not same) ingestion is a bad idea if glucose and insulin metabolism is dysregulated. Bariatric surgery is not a realistic option for the vast majority of diabetics. I also buy the idea that giving insulin (in ever higher doses) to people with high sugars ends up being self defeating and weight gain promoting.

      My point is that LCHF and fasting is an intervention with the intent to get rid of diabetes or radically modify. It has some reasonable scientific support. Going paleo because it somehow mimics the diet of our ancestors probably does not meet the evidence test.



  14. Nenad Kojic on September 7, 2016 at 13:36

    Optimal Foraging strategy: Smart monkeys don’t go wasting their precious time and energy to hunt when carbs are cheap and abundant.

  15. Karl on September 7, 2016 at 13:59

    What about the people in areas where there was no honey available? And very little carbs in general, like the Inuits. Adaptation?
    And of course the quality of the carbs remains an important issue. Wild honey must be way better nutrition than a Mars bar.
    I cannot find any info on the health and longevity of the Hazda. But there are only a mere 300 of them hunter gatherers. Are they healthier than their sedentary folks? THAT would be a very interesting study because of their genetic similarity and isolation.
    In the meantime I keep to my empirically tested diet (for 90 %) of mainly fish and veggies, some wine (and some more wine), full grains. My damaged heart thanks me for it. I stick to the idea that anybody is different and has different nutritional needs. Unfortunately you have to experiment to find out what works for you. But proud to say that I found out that 40 years of over-indulging in ah… everything, did not work for me!
    OK. This bottle looks empty… mmm

    • Richard Nikoley on September 7, 2016 at 20:09

      Honey is pretty damn ubiquitous worldwide (just looked it up).

      http://www.honeytraveler.com

      It makes more sense that people would settle in places where it’s obtainable rather than be where it’s not. People go where the food is, naturally.



    • Nenad Kojic on September 8, 2016 at 00:03

      I went fishing for the answer on Karl’s question of Hadza longevity. There’s a very good Life History Chapter in the book.

      With Hadza it is kind of difficult to age them, because they don’t count very much. They have words for numbers only up to 4. You may ask a guy who looks 70 how old is he, and he might guess 10 years old.

      Marlowe and his team used old photos to age them or important events (like earthquakes) they remember. Some of them appeared on the photos from 1930s, and most of them. They also used the big 1964 earthquake to guess the age – if one was a child or teenager or adult in the time of the earthquake helped them with the aging. With younger Hadza it is easier since births and deaths have been recorded at least every two years since 1982.

      Here are some of the quotes from Life History chapter:

      “Hadza life expectancy at birth is 32.5 years. People commonly misinterpret this to mean that there are no old people. In fact, it only means that many people die very early. There are plenty of Hadza in their 70s and 80s, such as the couple in Figure 6.11. The low life expectancy at birth is due to high mortality in the first few years of life. A person who survives adulthood is likely to live a long live. Women who reach age 45 habe another 21.3 years of mean life expectancy.”

      21% of children die by age 1, and 46% die by age 15. Infectious disease seem to be the main killer of infants. This is all very common in all foraging populations.

      “Man don’t live quote as long as women. Old men are the most likely to fall out of tall baobab tress to their deaths, since they continue to try to collect honey into old age (*I guess carbs really are deadly).”

      “Old men are shown extra respect until they reach the age of perhaps 70, when their status begins to drop.”

      Figure 6.8. on page 155 shows archery scores of males. Highest is at 40 years old, a bit above the score of 25. And it doesn’t fall much. At 70 is still 25 and at 80 a bit less. Still very skilled.

      Figure 6.9 also on page 155 shows daily kcals acquired by males. It peaks in 50s. In 70s it falls to the same as in the 20s.

      “As noted, Hadza women who make it to age 45 can expect to live to age 66. Many women live well beyond that, at least into their 80s.”

      —–
      Also found those interesting quotes that are of importance to the topic of foraging:

      “It shows that berries dominate the foods brought back to camp during berry season, and again because the wast majority of berries are eaten while picking them out of camp, the amount consumed is even greater than suggested by Table 5.3 or Table 5.4.”

      “We have yet to finish analyzing total consumption both in and out of camp, but I estimate that, as a fraction of the total food acquired, about 50% of berries, 40% of honey, 25% tubers, 20% baobab, and 15% meat is consumed out of camp.”

      Yes, the exact percentages of foods eaten out of camp were not known. Obviously, even Marlowe was off in his estimates, especially with honey. But even in papers as early as 1980s, anthropologists have known about this “out of camp eating”. Hawkes and many others have followed forgares on their trips and recorded what, how and how much they eat. So this is not new really – it’s been around for a while. Cordain has “missed” this, because his estimates are pulled out of his ass.

      —-
      I have Marlowe’s Hadza at home, so if anyone is interested in any of the tables or graphs I can probably make and send you the .pdfs. Also, I recommend buying the book – it’s basically the “Hadza encyclopedia”.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 8, 2016 at 08:43

      Thanks Nenad. Enlightening.

      I’m interviewing Alex Leaf in an hour or so for a podcast episode. This will come in handy.

      Podcast should go up tomorrow.



    • Nenad Kojic on September 8, 2016 at 13:10

      My pleasure. Looking forward to this one!



    • Karl on September 9, 2016 at 15:27

      Thanks Nenad, enlightening.
      But what are really the implications on the paleo story? I discovered paleo through NN Taleb, who led me to Art de Vany. Now art is not foraging honey from wild bees, but his lifestyle inspired me to turn around my own life. I have a simple formula now that works. At least it works better than what I did before, judged by doctor’s reports (a bit) but mainly by how I feel and what can. I am definitely reversing my biological clock, which was ticking too fast because of obvious bad habits, food and exercise.
      I don’t take things to extremes, so I never stopped eating my beloved potatoes, before Richard got to his potato hack period. I cut out most daily sugars and kept them as a special treat.
      I’m not sure about the relevance of this honey story, at least for my personal situation.
      Though I must say the thought of living in a society where the main death cause (for old people) is to fall out of baobab trees in stead of suffering through the results of heart attacks, strokes of cancer, at first sight looks as preferrable as my falling of my yacht in old age and drowning (after a few bottles of Nuits-Saint-Georges off course). But then, I guess many survive for a while to die of lack of medical care, so not ideal either.
      The argumentation about wether 100 s of thousands of years of evolution in Africa can be compared against a few thousand years in case on Inuits and North American Indians seems irrelevant to me. Evolution works much faster than most think. My idea to date is that people adapt in a relatively short time to available food sources. Health and longevity is not even a part in that equation. Our genes can reproduce every 20 years or so ( or much earlier, but papa state does not approve of that..). So perhaps “good food”, which makes us healthier after 20 is just a coincidence based on what’s available. If this is all true, no Mark Sisson, Art De Vany or Richard will ever give us a final solution. The good thing about Richard is that he acknowledges this and lets his readers make up their own mind (if they are willing).
      So, about honey; it may be a very good food, at least to some of us. But maybe the climbing in Baobab trees was more important. Or the hundreds of bee stings these guys probably endure.
      I mean, no need to fight over all this. Try and report.



    • Nenad Kojic on September 11, 2016 at 14:22

      Yes, I agree Karl.

      How you feel and perform is most important. If your blood work is perfect, even better. This is the goal right?

      This honey story is anthropological evidence not “rules for life”. It’s good because it helps us see through all of the nonsense of our zealous guru.

      Evolution works faster, yes. But, It’s not just about generations. It’s about ancestry. Inuits are evolutionarily irrelevant for around 99,999999999% of Worlds population – only exception are those few descendant from them. Honey eating African ancestry on the other hand, is very relevant for all of us – at least few millions of years worth of evolution is a pretty solid base.

      I don’t care if people are low carb, or low sugar, or low whatever. Actually, I’d encourage them to do so, if it improves their health and makes them feel good. I work with quite a few people that like it “lower carb” at the moment. But it makes me lose my mind when I some guru say that “sugar makes you fat” or “carbs cause disease” or “humans are carnivorous” or that “glucose is not essential for humans” or any other such similar stupid and oversimplified bullcrap.



  16. […] UPDATE: Everything You Believe About What Paleoman Ate Is Way Wrong […]

  17. pzo on September 8, 2016 at 11:16

    I don’t see any conflict in this vs. conventional paleo thinking.

    First of all, the Hazda are very few and contemporary in a contemporary savanna. And then there’s the semantics, sure “paleo” is short hand for before agriculture. But 12,000 years ago is a long time from the much, much earlier times when our nutritional requirements and preferences were evolving in Africa. The Inuit and plains Indians were definitely paleo – no agriculture. But that doesn’t mean their long ago ancestors in Africa were eating like them. Probably never had honey.

    The two things I don’t understand from this story are, how did they collect all this date “without observing” them? And two, it sounds like honey is at every Baobab tree and the bees willingly give it up. African bees, no less. Honey is not exactly easy to harvest. And they don’t bring it back to the camp?

    Too many inexplicables here for me to jump on board.

    • Nenad Kojic on September 8, 2016 at 13:08

      You call Hadza contemporary and then offer Inuit and plains indians as an example? LOL

      Hadza live in a “mosaic” habitat of open grassy plains. Practically the same environment hominins have been evolving in for more than 3 million years. If anyone has to be employed the paleo poster boys, it’s the Hadza.

      Plains inidans are at best 15.000 years old and the Inuit around 4.000. You Paleo people are making an argument that we basically stopped evolving 150.000 years ago, but then offer cultures younger than agriculture as an example. Don’t you think this is a bit weird?

      By the way, contemporary savanna is much less plant species rich and productive than paleo savanna was. In the past, it was way easier to dig up a tuber or raid a hive than it is today. There are also many types of honey from many species of bees, and not all are stinging bees.

      Almost all war-climate foragers in the Standard Cross Cultural Sample of traditional societies have honey in their diet. And that includes american hunter-gatherers. Also, maybe Arthur will drop by to tell about how native americans absolutely love their maple syrup.



    • thhq on September 8, 2016 at 15:28

      I’ve seen squirrels licking sap off maples at the end of winter.

      Years ago I saw a PBS show on the origins of corn. Here are some images of the ancestor plant teosinte.

      This is what the Asiatic immigrants started with 7000 years ago. Within a few hundred years or less it became corn.

      This was no 150,000 year trial-and-error experiment. The Amerinds knew a lot about selecting for trait. They knew what starch was and how to get plants to produce more of it.



    • Richard Nikoley on September 8, 2016 at 14:43

      I drank maple water for the first time, recently. Better than coconut water, but love both.

      Arthur is Jesus. I’m convinced. Such a knowledgeable, humble soul. His very true calling. I get shamed just thinking about him.

      Watch his podcast with Abel James and guess what I love best.

      His view of child rearing. It’s literally the most important thing.

      He raises children by respecting their individuality and ultimate autonomy. This is original anarchism.

      Like I always say, “anarchy begins at home.”



    • Richard Nikoley on September 8, 2016 at 16:25

      Interesting that corn plays a role in the child “pilgrim” Jesus-like narrative,



  18. Steven on September 10, 2016 at 23:42

    I wonder how much of that honey contains larvae and how much of it is actual Beeswax as well.

    They don’t selectively just eat the honey they eat everything which I’m sure leads to an exceptionally diverse biome in the gut. And because we all know Beeswax is basically mixed with bee spit it leads me to conclude that whatever bacteria is there will also help digest the various sugars and fibers in the honey.

    Along the lines of consuming raw milk where the various enzymes help in digesting the milk once it reaches the gut.

  19. Golooraam on September 11, 2016 at 20:25

    Slight slant away from this… But what happened with Ray Cronise?

    I saw on FB a recipe and someone suggested adding avocado – his ‘no!’ alarmed me

    I’m being walked out of PALEO fantasy land (today I’m feasting on lots of RS rich foods and reheated potatoes and lentils ) but his brave new world of ‘totally zero fat vegan but I’m not a vegan) is honestly kind of scary

    • Richard Nikoley on September 12, 2016 at 09:27

      Ray has always been plant based, not sure about plant fat though. Plus, one not eat a whole avocado, or a coconut.



    • JP on September 12, 2016 at 16:03

      During one of his interviews, Ray said his Type 2 diabetes symptoms flare up with just a few servings of animal products. He said coconut oil would probably do the same because of the saturated fat. He still eats salmon (and probably avocado) occasionally, but really limits them. He noted that he’s particularly sensitive, and others may be able to eat differently.



    • Jennifer Wilson on September 13, 2016 at 11:11

      But if you’re vegan, you best be eating that whole avocado! And nuts and oils, too, for that matter. Otherwise you’ll end up looking like all the vegans who say you shouldn’t eat avocados, nuts and oils.



    • JP on September 14, 2016 at 06:03

      Nonsense. While I’m not advocating an extremely low-fat diet, I’ve seen it work well for many people, and it doesn’t affect their looks. Watch Denise Minger’s “Lessons from the Vegans” video or read her related blog post.



    • Jennifer Wilson on September 14, 2016 at 08:05

      I was vegan for 3 years. I reaped many benefits health-wise- lost loads of weight, even dropped into a 10k race without any practice whatsoever and took the gold medal. If I wasn’t so vain I’d still be eating that way- but I am vain. Very much so. And I don’t like being too thin and having what I feel are too many wrinkles for my age. And I was not even close to low-fat. I ate whole avocados on the regular, sauteed foods in coconut, avocado, or olive oil, ate lots of nuts. Felt great- didn’t look great. So I’m working on finding the balance. But one rule I am keeping from this experience is that no fruits and vegetables must be eaten sparingly. That rule’s for the other stuff.



    • JP on September 14, 2016 at 09:00

      Well, that’s where the N=1 comes into play. Cronise eats very little fat and he looks really young for his age.



    • Jennifer Wilson on September 14, 2016 at 14:57

      He still has some pudge on him and some wrinkling. I wouldn’t have a single wrinkle if I let myself gain more than 5 lbs. But again, vain. Anyway, Cronise is a snakeoil salesman. Takes an obvious truth (potatoes are super satiating and low fat) and then adds in a whole bunch of woo to make you think he has the secret formula.

      Oh, why did I choose to become a Registered Dietitian? I am so going to hate being up against all of these fads.



    • JP on September 15, 2016 at 08:44

      “He still has some pudge on him and some wrinkling.”

      And you’re as old as he is (51) and look like a supermodel?



  20. JAKE on September 12, 2016 at 05:12

    One brief nitpick is that to my knowledge, the Hadza use axes when sourcing honey from trees. They whistle to the honeyguide bird, who has already staked out combs, and gets leftovers when the Hadza are done. Much of these combs are buried fairly deeply in trees. Stone axes/other tools would have been possible to get at them, but I wonder, prior to having more modern tools, how easy access would have been. May have been totally the same, may not.

    This eat first, share later is also true of the women, who typically dig for tubers (I believe one main one is called “!ekwa” – looks like a behemoth yam) and, once found, roast them up right on the spot.

  21. Matt on September 13, 2016 at 18:13

    I’m not sure why a native doing something validates it’s efficacy in achieving optimum health. Natives were half starving all the time. Their entire lives were dedicated to finding enough calories, and honey is calorie dense. They ate it to survive, not because they spent years analyzing the healthiest foods and honey came out on top. If your goal is to answer the question: “what do primitive humans eat,” mission accomplished. However, if your goal is to find out what foods increase human lifespan and promote the greatest level of health, I’m not so sure.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 13, 2016 at 19:41

      But that is exactly the Paleo narrative, and they have it so wrong it’s a laugh.

      For longevity, better to look at Blue Zones and Mediterranean.



    • Charles on September 13, 2016 at 19:54

      Yep. Blue Zones are better models. It’s amazing how the Paleo crowd has mostly ignored that whole paradigm. Not sexy enough I guess.



    • Nenad Kojic on September 13, 2016 at 22:58

      However, when you look into it, Forager and Blue Zone lifestyles are pretty much the same. Especially Hadza lifestyle shares many of the Blue Zone traits. Also, foragers live very productive lives into their 70s. And they are living in the wildreness – meaning you have to be awesomely fit to survive. Is that not longevity?

      It also may be that the Mediterranean diet of sorts is actually “the most paleo” – more paleo than Paleo. Haha. With grains, legumes, seafood and such. It’s funny when you think about it. This is where we spent most of our time as a species – left Africa along the coast of what is now Israel, colonized Europe along the coast of Southern Italy, France and Spain, invented Agriculture somewhere around Turkey or Fertile Crescent (all Mediterranean climate then) and so on.



    • GTR on September 14, 2016 at 11:15

      Consider also new innovative therapies, that were not available before. Not long ago a first human got telomere extension gene therapy. Perhaps as a makreting tool – she works for Bioviva company that is willing to sell such therapy. Or was it because she was 45?

      There are many other potential targets of innovative therapies, like a removal of senescent cells, removal of crosslinked proteins (eg. damaged by Advanced Glycation Endproducts), lowering activity of transposable elements, regenerating the ability of thymus to train immune cells or so on. Some have already been tested on animals.

      Even modern supplements are quite powerful. Eg. is there a fully natural food substance that has the capability comparable to MitoQ/SkyQ – antioxidant action targeted at mitochondria only?



    • KidPsych on September 15, 2016 at 06:54

      This recent post by Malcolm Kendrick drew my interest for the same reason your posts do – it challenges paleo dogma. (FD: I follow Mark Sisson and probably eat roughly the diet he espouses, with more legumes.) Dr. Kendrick’s notion that diet has little to do with cardiovascular health stirred up a lot of confused and unsettled comments. (He does not touch on possible effects on other diseases like cancer.) I thought it might be of interest to others here.

      https://drmalcolmkendrick.org/2016/07/31/what-causes-heart-disease-part-xviiii/

      FTL: Blast, again here I am finding myself dragged into the diet debate. It seems impossible to release the discussion from this intellectual black hole. The meme is firmly entrenched. CVD is primarily to do with diet. Ancel Keys may be, posthumously, about to lose the argument on saturated fat However, he certainly succeeded in anchoring almost all discussions within the wider hypothesis that CVD is primarily due to diet.

      It is not.



    • Zastr on October 17, 2016 at 05:39

      Exactly my thought. The reaction people her to paleo is exactly the same like how paleo crowd react to veganism.. Except that there is nothing wrong with low carb diet its better than high carb diet or at least do nothing of harms. In my opinion and bias more carb is fine.



  22. Hap on September 14, 2016 at 12:00

    Yes, there are numerous billionaires, lacking nothing but the sound of the clock running out (like the rest of us) who fund these innovative “therapies”. “therapy”…kind of implies that someone will have to pay for it……. I doubt most will have the resources to do so. I am glad that some companies are stooping to the willingness to sell something for us suckers.

    MitoQ is already bleeding my wallet. A sucker, even me, is born every minute.

    Natural food substance that is comparable to MitoQ? Well Kaneka is making a mint fermenting yeast for CoQ10 and licensing it to all the supplement makers. Yeast interesting….some make CoQ10…others make ….Lipitor. That’s what I call vertically integrated structuring.

    So that brings us back to the old fashioned way, whatever that is. I will call it the Blue potatoe Paleo Zone Fast diet. To be used liberally, but intermittently.

    • thhq on September 15, 2016 at 06:00

      I take my hit in walking shoes. Cordain got Paleo exactly right with the “Exercise like a Hunter Gatherer” article. Metabolize 1000 kcal a day and many of the diseases of modernity go away. High blood pressure, diabetes and low HDL in my case. Hazda or Makah, any food is fuel for the fire. Time for the next resole on my Kuliens. Two or three times a year.

      Viva Jack Lalanne!



  23. Hap on September 15, 2016 at 11:24

    thhq

    I think you must have meant…”metabolize 1000kcal/day above BMR”. Most of us can metabolize 1000kcal without leaving the couch.

    It would be nice if Kuliens had a website and a catalogue. Seems interesting to me.

    • thhq on September 15, 2016 at 13:55

      Kulien is in Centralia WA. Made to order and you have to go in for fitting. 9 months to get them. Fit like gloves.



    • Hap on September 15, 2016 at 15:48

      then I am probably better off with Dayton or some other brand that is hand made, since Centralia Washington is 2000 mi from Southern California. Cost and time prohibitive.



    • thhq1 on September 19, 2016 at 06:19

      The foot measuring took 15 minutes. Lots of interesting stories. The original Kulien was a socialist and sponsored IWW meetings in his building before the Centralia Massacre. They also have a trove of old bicycles and shoemaking equipment. I don’t know how much longer they’ll be there, but over 100 years so far.



  24. […] Everything You Believe About What Paleoman Ate Is Way Wrong […]

  25. Angelo Coppola on September 21, 2016 at 13:58

    Great article, Richard. I’m going on two years of eating my more whole-food, plant-based (high carb) diet and feeling as strong as ever, while staying comfortably lean. Probably the biggest Paleofantasy is that people can eat and drink a huge portion of their intake in the form of processed, refined, calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods and still lean out, get healthy, etc. (oils, bars and other packaged foods, nut flours, and so on). Anything is a step up from SAD, but this is hardly ideal.

    People like me do well on mostly plants. Maybe others can do well or better on mostly meat (look at Iceland, for example: and their life expectancy is among the highest in the world at 82.7 yrs on average (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy). What’s just plain weird is how invested people can get, with religious fervor even, about their way being the only true and right way.

    Think about all of the aspects of hunter-gatherer diets that we ignore in Paleo and otherwise: opportunism, mostly bland, almost 100% whole foods, fasting and feasting, eating outdoors with hands (and no anti-bacterial gels applied beforehand). Our focus on macros digs us a rabbit hole that’s difficult to crawl out of. But when we do, food is food again. One of the best things we can learn from the Hadza is to chill out a little.

  26. Evan Eberhardt on September 21, 2016 at 10:21

    I would also be curious to see what the Hazda water consumption is like, especially the women who are more sedentary. I read an interesting little ebook called ‘Eat for Heat’ by Matt Stone, and he is convinced we are doing real harm with the water craze these days (dropping core body temp and diluting salts). Thirst is the deeply ingrained guide to water consumption and should be followed (no counting out 8 glasses of water or whatever).

  27. Mark on September 28, 2016 at 01:13

    Hi Richard (and everyone else!) i have been a paleo dieter for 20 years now and i came across your site by accident (sorry!) but you have opened my eyes SO much to carbs. I follow a high fat low carb diet regime with no problems, but i always feel deep down there is something ‘missing’…. i think more carbohydrates, especially starchy tubers may be it, after reading your brilliant blog on tiger nuts and how the Inuit receive carbs from glycogen from freshly killed animals and the skin etc. Absolutely fascinating and i am going to purchase some tiger nuts today! I just have a quick question if i may? I have read recently about a rather worrying substance called Acrylamide, and it seems that cooking starches at high temperatures causes it…..therefore i wanted to ask, if our ancestors were cooking the starchy foods including tubers to eat and roasting them to make flour etc, wouldn’t this expose them to high levels of Acrylamide? If so, how come they did not suffer from high levels of cancer?! Also, people in Industrialized countries the 18th and 19th centuries ate bread, which, again, should contain high levels of cancer causing Acrylamide, but as we know, rates of all cancers have rocketed in the later part of the 20th century and cancer was relatively rare in the 18th and 19th centuries compared to now. Is Acrylamide REALLY that bad for us considering these facts??? All the best, Mark

    • Richard Nikoley on September 29, 2016 at 08:16

      Hey Mark:

      You know, I got that question some months back from a friend who wanted her and hubby to try the potato hack, but he raised that objection.

      I plugged around Google for a bit and shot her some links. Overblown concern. Easy to Google stuff up.



    • Mark on October 3, 2016 at 01:34

      Many thanks for the reply….. in hindsight I do think I over reacted. As you have mentioned before, whole foods contain goodies and baddies and it’s pretty much impossible to eat ‘perfect’ foods so baked potatoes may well be making a comeback for me. Received my tiger nuts and they are very very nice. I also treat myself to some manuka honey and it is awesome tasting stuff. I always thought honey should be ok as you see lots of hunter gatherers gorging on it. One last note of interest, I read elsewhere on another of your blogs about very low carb diets and skin rashes…..well I developed a rash around my abdomen a few month back and nothing the doctor prescribed rid me of it….I started adding more carbs into my diet and….hey presto….can you believe the rash is fading away?! I have subsequently ordered ‘the perfect health diet’ book too, so thanks again for opening my eyes to some real food science and well done to your contributors who obviously work so hard finding these facts out for us….. glycogen in freshly killed meat still blows me away. Regards, Mark



    • Richard Nikoley on October 3, 2016 at 07:46

      Take a handful of your tiger nuts and soak in a bowl for 48 hours. See how you like them.

      That’s my preferred way.



  28. Jade on October 15, 2016 at 07:29

    Well in paleo I don’t believe we need to limit carb too much and eat that much of fat. Still honey as main source of calorie is just doesn’t make sense. This makes another argument that all paleolitic human doesn’t eat their macro the same.

    • Mark on October 16, 2016 at 06:09

      Hello Richard, apologies for the late reply. I soaked them overnight and in that short space of time there is a huge difference in texture and the taste definitely improves. I know you recommend people buying a certain brand over there in America but do you think it matters where the actual nuts come from? Because I see them for sale over here in the U.K. as carp bait and the prices vary a lot between the companies. I think I read somewhere that soil quality is important and that nuts from Valencia are the ‘best’? Just wondered if you think it matters that much?
      Regards, Mark



  29. Mark on October 24, 2016 at 06:03

    Hi everyone. Does anyone know if we ate mainly lean white meat lower iron content animals or red meat high iron content animals during our evolutional history? Duck Dodgers’ iron overload article has me a bit concerned however, because there does seem to be a lot of evidence showing that it is a good idea to lower your iron intake (blue zone populations being a prime example) but I keep getting a nagging reminder in the back of my mind that we had to eat animals every day to meet our protein requirements (before we started consuming combinations of grains, beans, peas and legumes, which are a relatively recent addition to our species’ diet) So were these animals we ate leaner, white meat types low in iron? Or red meats high in heme iron? Heme iron being the easiest of the two forms to digest suggests we may have consumed a lot of animals whose meat was high in heme iron, which would explain how we digest it far easier than non heme? But the blue zone populations clearly eat very little heme iron and thrive on it! And to muddy the waters even more, I am reading Paul and Shou-Ching’s Perfect Health Diet book which is recommended on this site, and the advice in it is to base most meals on red meat ruminants (beef, lamb and goat) and restrict pork and chicken! So they advise eating lots of high iron red meats and limiting leaner white meats ><
    Maybe it is a horses for courses thing but if iron overload is as dangerous as it looks then getting the right amount seems to be very important. Jane Karlsson has kindly been replying to some questions I have and she thinks the rda for iron is way too high. So, if we ate mainly lean white meat animals for our complete protein and we don't need as much iron as the rda's suggest then that would make sense but the Perfect Health Diet recommendations would then be wrong…. does anyone know if we ate lean animals prior to the addition of grains, beans, peas and legumes as our daily source of protein???

    • gabkad on October 24, 2016 at 09:51

      Mark, have you ever seen plated food at Paul’s blog? The portion size is small. They don’t gorge on red meat.



    • Mark on October 31, 2016 at 06:57

      Hi Gabkad, thanks for your reply. So basically I am at a bit of a crossroads. I either lower my red meat intake to hopefully avoid iron overload, which a lot of blue zone populations seem to thrive on, or I follow the Perfect Health Diet book advice which is to base most meals on ruminants (beef, lamb and goat) and limit my intake of chicken and pork…..the exact opposite! I struggle to see how we reach our rda of iron however, if lots of iron rich foods aren’t eaten? Jane Karlsson replied to me that she thinks the rda’s are way too high for iron, so I’m now wondering if that is true, or did we eat lots of high iron content animals during our hunter gatherer days? I think I may just limit red meat to two or three portions a week and see how I go, but it just bugs me that there are two conflicting pieces of advice! Who knows, it may simply be down to the individual as to which way is best, but iron overload does concern me slightly.



    • gabkad on October 31, 2016 at 07:17

      Mark, don’t guess. Get the bloodwork done and see how you are. Tweak your diet accordingly.



    • Mark on October 31, 2016 at 12:46

      Well I don’t believe I am suffering from iron overload as I have not eaten fortified foods for years and recently found out you only absorb about a third of heme iron from any given meal. Shellfish look to have been consumed in large amounts by hunter gatherers living near the coast and certain types contain large amounts of heme iron, so although duck dodgers article on iron overload is fascinating/worrying! I still feel that iron from natural sources should be ok….. the blue zoners are still waving at me though!
      Best, mark @stillabitundecided.com!



    • gabkad on October 31, 2016 at 14:02

      mark, seems you are the ‘wringer of the hands’ type. Instead of getting solid information, you worry and speculate and talk to yourself. Some people are addicted to worrying, gives them something to do with their time.



    • Mark on November 19, 2016 at 23:19

      Going for the ferretin test tomorrow morning and I would say I am very interested in health and the subject as opposed to worrying about it. With regards to ‘solid information’ there is so much out there, the waters can easily be muddied. This site is the best/most informative I have come across and it simply brings questions up, hence my asking



  30. bacarney on October 31, 2016 at 14:33

    I’m wondering how this new data pertains to children. Does anyone have any info on how they fed the children, did they get a disproportionate serving of meat, or fat, or just same as everyone else? I assume they nursed for much longer than modern children, but after that what?

  31. On Carbohydrates in Evolution of Human Diet - A Sapient Ape on November 15, 2016 at 05:34

    […] Paleoman eats a lot of carbs. Every tropical hunter-gatherer ever did, and still does. Wherever honey is available, it is an important food for them. Almost all warm-climate foragers in the Standard Cross Cultural Sample of traditional societies have honey in their diet (x32). In addition, many traditional societies used other sources to make other sugary syrups as well, such as for example tapping maple or birch trees for their juice. […]

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