(THE WEEK) — YOU’VE PROBABLY HEARD of the Stone Age diet craze known as the Paleolithic Diet, made popular most recently by Dr. Loren Cordain’s best-seller The Paleo Diet. The premise is simple: If our early human ancestors couldn’t have eaten it, we shouldn’t, either. It’s the one time, it seems, that being like a caveman is a good thing.
The theory goes (and archaeological evidence corroborates) that early hunter-gatherers, while they may not have lived as long, still had some major health advantages on most of us modern humans. They were much taller, averaging 6-foot-5 to our 5-foot-11; had stronger, heavier bones; had more robust immune systems; and were leaner, tougher, and hardier than we are today. Higher levels of physical activity also played a vital role in cave people’s vitality, and so did their high levels of wild food consumption: wild game meat, gathered greens and fruits, and healthy fats such as nuts.
Cordain suggests that prior to the agricultural revolution, early humans ate this Paleo Diet for 2.5 million years. The 10,000 years since the popularization of farming — or just 333 human generations — he says, is clearly a drop in the chronological bucket when compared with the millennia leading up to it. Thus, he maintains, the hunter-gatherer diet our ancestors lived on is far more deeply and indelibly imprinted into our DNA than our habits of the last few thousand years. I’m inclined to agree with him. In fact, I’m going to see his 2.5 million years and raise him a few millennia, and show you what we were really designed to eat. The real Paleo Diet would have included bugs. Lots and lots of bugs.