Paleo diet encourages eating like cavemen

Hannah Reed

A new diet inspired by what cavemen ate thousands of years ago is growing in popularity and taking dieting back to the basics.

The Paleolithic diet, or paleo for short, is named for the Paleolithic Age, which extends from about 2 million years ago to 10,000 years ago. The diet restricts participants to eating only foods that human ancestors would have found or hunted in the hunter-gatherer days of the Stone Age.

Kyle Cordain, the diet’s website manager and customer service representative, said the diet predates the agricultural revolution of the 18th century.

“The paleo diet consists of eating organic, sustainably raised meats and eggs; fresh fruits and vegetables; and nuts and seeds in moderation,” Cordain said. “Processed food, grains, dairy, sugar and vegetable oils are not allowed.”

Cordain said that because the human body’s genetic material hasn’t changed significantly, it still functions best with a hunter-gatherer diet.

“The theory is that humans are genetically adapted to a hunter-gatherer diet, and only in the last 30,000 years of our existence have we switched to a grain-based diet,” he said.

Assistant anthropology professor Linda Spurlock said the paleo diet includes other benefits to the human body as well, such as being easier on the pancreas and being high in fiber.

She said the diet can also be good for the environment because it involves eating plant proteins, such as beans and lentils, which are low on the food chain.

Like many other diets, word of the paleo diet spread on social media. Junior interior design major Elizabeth Svoboda said she has heard of it before.

“I see it a lot on Pinterest,” Svoboda said. “I just know it’s about eating things from the earth, like cavemen did.”

Even though the diet has been gaining popularity, Spurlock said there are downsides.

“The paleo diet can be dangerous because if you eat too much fish, you will get mercury poisoning,” Spurlock said. “This is common in very wealthy paleo diet people.”

Spurlock also said that the diet is high in protein and too much protein is hard on the kidneys.

However, Cordain said the purpose of the diet is to reduce overall inflammation in the body and achieve a healthy weight. Although this is the goal of many popular diet plans, he said the paleo diet is different.

 “This diet differs from other diets because it is not a fad diet based on calories or junk science,” he said. “The diet is rooted in evolution, and if it is a fad, well then it’s the oldest fad diet on the planet.”

To learn more about the paleo diet, visit

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