Paleolithic vs. modern diets – slected pathophysiological implications

Summary

The nutritional patterns of Paleolithic humans influenced genetic evolution during the time segment within which defining characteristics of contemporary humans were selected. Our genome can have changed little since the beginnings of agriculture, so, genetically, humans remain Stone Agers – adapted for a Paleolithic dietary regimen.

Such diets were based chiefly on wild game, fish and uncultivated plant foods. They provided abundant protein; a fat profile much different from that of affluent Western nations; high fibre; carbohydrate from fruits and vegetables (and some honey) but not from cereals, refined sugars and dairy products; high levels of micronutrients and probably of phytochemicals as well.

Differences between contemporary and ancestral diets have many pathophysiological implications. This review addressed phytochemicals and cancer; calcium, physical exertion, bone mineral density and bone structural geometry; dietary protein, potassium, renal acid secretion and urinary calcium loss; and finally sarcopenia, adiposity, insulin receptors and insulin resistance.

While not, yet, a basis for formal recommendations, awareness of Paleolithic nutritional patterns should generate novel, testable hypotheses grounded in evolutionary theory and it should dispel complacency regarding currently accepted nutritional tenets.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Additional information

Received: 24 February 2000, Accepted: 20 March 2000

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Eaton, S., Eaton III, S. Paleolithic vs. modern diets – slected pathophysiological implications. Eur J Nutr 39, 67–70 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1007/s003940070032

Download citation

  • Key words Paleolithic diet – insulin resistance – skeletal health – phytochemicals – type 2 diabetes