Paleodiet or Paleolithic Diet Hot Air?

The paleodiet idea is that humans and their ancestors evolved over millions of years before agriculture came around and lived by eating fruits and nuts and things in the tradition of the 'hunter gatherer' society in which they lived  (I guess this does not apply to Creationists, as they never evolved). Then, about 10,000 years ago agriculture began to become popular with humans and pretty soon we were all farmers. The paleolithic diet argument is that after all those millions of years of evolution, we couldn't possibly have evolved beyond that in just the most recent 10,000 years - so you should only eat the sorts of things that paleolithic humans ate at the time before farming and such became so popular.

Science Genomics: A Little Gene Xeroxing Goes a Long Way

Now, there is a lot to be said for eating fruits and vegetables instead of processed poison like that sold my unHealth providers such as McDonalds. The proof is in that pudding. One might not be too surprised by the fact a human being will get ill by eating lots of poisonous trans-fats and processed high fructose corn syrup in mega doses while forgoing all nutrients required for living - not matter what ones genes have evolved one into diet-wise. Eating massive quantities of bad and mal-nutritious unHealth foods and eating 10x the calories one needs to remain fit and healthy could well be something we will never be able to evolve to do without penalty.

However you like that rather obvious conclusion, and however much common sense and reality appears to empirically validate the idea that eating healthy food make you healthy, it still would be nice to have a good science explanation for why those foods are healthy. Now the paleo diet concept seems to fit the bill pretty well, but here come some folks who seem to poke some little holes in the paleolithic diet idea - because they find that people have in fact evolved pretty darned fast to be able to eat more starchy foods which are oh so common in agricultural based societies (though not absent altogether from hunter gatherer cultures either - if they gather starchy foods like certain roots and the like).

What these guys show is that you don't have to evolve by mutating your genes, when you can evolve just by changing the number of copies of a given gene or genes to make your body do that thing the gene does more or less by the number of copies! Kind of neat, and quite different from evolution by mutation. In any case, these folks show that humans have done quite a bit of gene level adapting to the quantities of starch in their diets simply by boosting the number of gene COPIES of the gene which encodes the protein salivary amylase (which helps humans digest starchy stuff). So if humans can and have adapted to eating starch, it means that the paleolithic diet concept needs some serious refinement.


First, it's too bad we don't have any genes to copy which render harmless the poisons in fast food like trans-fat laden McDonalds food. Second, maybe the paleolithic diet works because it also says to exercise and eat in moderation and to EXCLUDE  the poison foods we NEVER evolved to eat at all, not because there is fundamentally something wrong with agricultural based diets for humans - simply that what is wrong is the extreme distortion of agriculture that humans have arrived at today.