Modern Diet Vs the Diet of Our Ancestors

There has been a lot of interest lately surrounding the differences between our modern American diet and the diet of our distant ancestors. In fact, new diets are even being developed in an effort to “get back to our roots” and eat like our caveman cousins once may have. Paleo, raw food diets, and all sorts of new trends advertise health benefits and weight loss by eating more meat and less grain, but how did our earliest ancestors actually eat? Read on to find out.

The Idea Behind “Paleolithic” Eating

The primary idea behind the whole idea of “paleolithic” eating, or eating a diet more consistent with what our ancient ancestors are believed to have eaten, is that large-scale agriculture was only developed relatively recently in the scope of human history. As such, the human body has not yet had time to evolutionarily evolve to be able to process things like whole grains, dairy products, sugar, and domesticated meat. In fact, it takes a period of about one million years for an organism to actually evolve, while agriculture has only gained prominence about 7,000 to 10,000 years ago, so we could be in for quite a wait there. In this line of thinking, the large amounts of grains, dairy, sugar, domesticated meat, and other heavily processed foods that make up the majority of the standard American diet are what is causing the health crises we’re currently facing in this country- including, but not limited to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and blood pressure and cholesterol problems.

Differences of the Modern Diet

An estimated 70% of the daily calories consumed by an average American come from sources that were not available to our ancestors, like refined sugars, processed breakfast cereals, breakfast oils, and other modern convenience foods. The Paleo diet recommends cutting out all of these things and sticking to organic, free range, and grass fed meats, fish, eggs, starchy tubers and roots, most other vegetables, healthy fats, and honey or agave if you need some sweetness. Processed meats, fruits, nuts, legumes, coffee, black tea, and vinegar should all be consumed in moderation. It is important to stay away from all dairy, grains, bread, sugar, sodas, alcohol, and potatoes, among other things.


The health benefits of eating in this way are said to be numerous. It has been said to detoxify the body, help people lose weight while feeling great, and reduce the risk of health complications like obesity, diabetes, and even cancer. By eating this way, you will be giving your body the fuel that it instinctively craves and has evolved to process in the most efficient way. This will likely cause greater harmony and give you more energy on a day to day basis. Although the first few days or weeks are known to be difficult as your body breaks its dependence upon grains, dairy, sugars, and other processed foods, experts say that the rewards are well worth it if you can just stick to it and push through.