Video: The Myths of the Paleo Diet

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on

Paleolithic era cave drawings

If you’re not familiar with the TED Talks video series, I highly recommend checking them out. TED Talks are informational lectures (on a HUGE variety of topics described as “ideas worth spreading”) given by experts in the field. It’s nearly impossible to watch them and not be smarter afterward. I recently saw a TED Talk featuring ancient diet researcher Dr. Christina Warinner. In her presentation, she sets the record straight about the paleo diet and the myths that surround it, and there are many.

What is the Paleo Diet?

The paleo diet, or the “caveman diet,” advocates eating like our ancestors did during the Paleolithic era. This is thought to be mostly meat with some supplemental fruits, vegetables and nuts, but no grains, legumes, or dairy. The idea is that agricultural diets are out of sync with our biology and make us ill. Abandoning modern agricultural products, hopefully, will allow us to live longer, healthier lives.

Aspects of this certainly sound great… but, unfortunately, the whole idea has almost no basis in archeological reality. The meat that was eaten then is not the meat that is eaten today. The vegetables and plants that existed during that time are very, very different from what you’ll find at the grocery store now. Additionally, there are many lifestyle differences between then and now that can’t be ignored (but usually are).

The Meat Myth

Paleolithic diets usually include a lot of red meat from domesticated, fattened cows, often grown in industrial feedlot operations. While the Paleolithic man did eat meat, a big juicy steak is not what was on the Paleolithic man’s plate. If paleo man wanted to eat meat, he had to catch and kill it himself. The meat was probably very lean and often came from small game (and it would have qualified as organic and free-range). Additionally, because of the energy expended to catch wild game, all parts were used, including the organs and bone marrow.

I don’t want to give it all away… it’s only 22 minutes and very interesting, check it out!

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • Great post and video. I really wish she keyed in on the idea of “domesticated beef” in the discussion of types of meat consumed. Not sure the audience would really pick up on just how big an effect that can have on someone’s health.

  • why do you paleo nay-sayers do a little more in-depth homework?? our paleo ancestors most certainly did get LOTS of fat – fat on ruminants collects around the organ meats too – a favorite of hunter gatherers – .

    Dr Group – i shudder that you are calling yourself a “natural” healer – there is nothing more natural than our eating foods that are present in nature and plenty of meat – as that is what our genetics are molded from – please do some better homework – start with Weston Price…

  • ghc_health

    Yikes, I’m sorry this post angered you so much, Ravi.

    Did you have specific information from Weston Price you feel is pertinent?

  • Ziggy

    Interesting how Ravi knows without doubt that the paleo ancestors ate LOTS of fat? And plenty of meat? Did you watch the video? With blinders? Weston Price studied current hunter-gather societies that ate from their local rain forest etc. These folks ate a lot of bugs/insects and starch. They also did not live all that long.

    Is it kind to say that too much meat is turning you into a meat head? Whole grains and legumes are HEALTHY>

  • While I agree with everything you have written, I fear it simply falls on deaf ears with that group. People want to believe good things about their bad habits. However, I would like to see the conversation change to a more current situation. Some paleo people think that consuming free-range grass-fed beef is healthy and the modern equivalent of what cavemen ate. My thought is Who cares? Even IF cavemen ate the way these paleo people claim, it doesn’t matter now. We have evolved beyond that. We don’t live in caves where a nice layer of thick fat is important to stay warm or to fuel us through fasts where food cannot be quickly found. The fact is this this “diet” or “lifestyle” is not sustainable for the vast majority of the 7+ billion people on the planet. Wasting resources with meat production is killing us and choking the planet. The only lifestyle that works for nearly 100% (allowing for mysterious and often undiagnosable illnesses) is plant-based. As many plants from all sources and as few animal products as possible. That is sustainable. It also happens to be healthiest. A win/win.

  • Good food for thought, thanks for the feedback!

  • Mista M Allen

    I stand by the Native American diet more then anything from just 4-5 generations ago…80% FAT consumption…I will take my free range organic grass fed pasture raised animal farms and raw dairy over eating like a rabbit any day…Please pass me the LARD & TALLOW!! 😉 Life is all about variety & diversity, like one big buffet of choices & for me the only: “have to” is following your bliss!! Many are being dumb down through fluoride consumption etc…many are sick & settle for being sick or simply are radically consumed by their junk food cravings & the freedom they feel it offers them, many “trust” doctors & government, free will, this is their choice be it ignorant or mind manipulation……simply there is not one single diet for everyone that will make everyone happy but gratefully I have found mine through many trials & different practices. Being true to self is all I can be and do throughout my day & listening to my body as she speaks symptoms I am left with caring or not, many do not care… I do for myself and mine, so I set the example & keep my mind open because I do know that their are exceptions to every rule & way.. & we are all entitled to choose for ourselves. Beliefs are a huge factor, I am so thankful I came through all I have with such an honest consideration for my body & open mind, no matter how malnourished this American human sabotaging program has taken affect on me.♠ I have my wits about me & have not settled for the bullshit they are feeding us, lol, but set out to find solutions because I too believe there is a solution for every problem. I believe we are here to enjoy life, try new things & to break the rules every chance we get!! Gotta live & not take life so seriously, you will never get out alive!! 😉 lol

  • Gaius Gracchus

    Very interesting and informative. As someone suffering from an autoimmune disease, I have also found a lot of information suggesting that the Paleo diet helps people with autoimmune conditions. For example, the Wahls Protocol.

    These people are implementing some variation of a Paleo/Gluten free diet and are showing recovery and remission from some pretty awful diseases (MS, etc.)
    Note that many of them were eating healthy, organic foods. Some were vegetarian. So its not like they were living off of MacDonald’s.
    It is an interesting perspective and it is amazing just how many people are healing from switching from what would have been considered ‘healthy’ diets to Paleo in order to accomplish this.

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