Is the Paleo Diet a Myth? Cavemen Likely Ate a Plant-Based Diet

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Paleo diets are all the rage these days. Followers of the diet claim it’s returning to the roots of ancient humans’ diets, eating things like lean meats, fish, and eggs, as well as some fruits and vegetables. However, based on a new study, it seems that the idea that this is how ancient humans ate is misguided.

Paleo Wasn’t What We Thought

How exactly did they test this since ancient humans are long gone, you ask? Researchers took the bones and teeth from the remains of the Iberomaurusians, who were a Paleolithic group from around 15,000 years ago, which had been discovered in a cave in Morocco.

They did an analysis on their bones and teeth and discovered a high amount of gum diseases and cavities, which suggests that they ate mostly plant-based foods. There were also plant processing tools on site like grinding stones that further supported this idea.

Iberomaurusians Ate Lots of Plants

They came to the conclusion that these people ate a lot of fermentable starchy plants like acorns and pulses. They also discovered that as much as 80% of their food was plants by analyzing their tooth enamel’s nitrogen levels.

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Now, all of that’s not to say that they didn’t also eat meat. The researched found cut marks on some animal fossils which suggests that the animal carcasses were cut up to be consumed.

Kids Were Weaned Early

The researchers also highlighted the significance of early weaning with starchy plant foods, which deviates from what was observed in other hunter-gatherer societies. This shows the possibility of a unique focus on plant-based nutrition that extends to the nourishment of infants.

It is likely that factors that led to the increased use of plant foods among the Iberomaurusians were the availability of a diverse array of edible plants and the larger species being hunted exhaustively.