{Primal lessons} A wee bit of History and Anthropology

I’m starting a series on the blog called Primal Lessons. The purpose of the series is to educate people on every aspect of primal eating and living. It’s also intended as further education for those interested in making changes to their current diet: I truly think a major reason why so many people have been successful with primal eating is because they’ve done their research and understand how it works, inside and out. It’s not simply about what to eat and what not to eat; it’s about understanding how our body reacts to different foods and what to do about it.

If you’re considering dabbling in ancestral eating, or simply feel like when I use certain terms on this blog you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, this series is for you. It will cover everything.The purpose of this is to inform, and clear up any misconceptions people may have regarding this facet of low-carb eating.

Disclaimer: I’m not a registered dietician, I’m just someone who has done their research and successfully implemented a primal way of eating, and has seen major benefits. I do, however, plan to certify in the next year.

Today’s wee post briefly looks at primal eating from the very beginning: the early humans

This way of eating dates back to Palaeolithic times – 2.6 million years ago to 10,000 BCE – when our Homo Erectus and Neanderthal ancestors were about. These early humans were taller than Homo Sapiens, more slender, more muscular, and had longer limbs. They also had larger cranial capacities, meaning their brains were bigger. They were like superhumans.

They were aslo hunter-gatherers: they hunted all animals, and gathered fruits (when they were available), vegetables and nuts to eat. And when they ate the animal, they ate the entire thing, including the fat and offal. Sometimes, food was abundant; other times, it wasn’t. Yes, Paleolitic people lived shorter lives – significantly shorter – but their demise wasn’t diet- or lifestyle-related in comparison to humans today. If you didn’t have access to running water, a proper toilet, modern medicine, and adequate shelter, you probably wouldn’t live long either. Any injury, possibly infection, could become deadly, and to top it off, you had to deal with some pretty big and nasty predators. Life was tough!

Cue the advent of agriculture and the start of the Neolithic era, 10 000 years ago. The Neolithic period, (about 10, 200 to 4,500 – 2,000 BCE), brought large increases in population, which created a new problem: what are all these people going to eat? Grains were okay to eat and easy to grow, so early humans grew them and ate them, and as a result, the world’s population expanded. You’re probably thinking that this is a good sign: grain consumption meant that Homo Sapiens – humans – faired a healthier life than their paleolithic counterparts. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Physical evidence shows that Homo Sapiens were actually shorter in stature, had smaller brains, and were starting to show evidence of disease where there previously had been none. Yes, these Homo Sapiens multiplied quickly, but let’s face it, you don’t have to be the image of good health to reproduce, do you?

Why the brief lesson in anthropology? Because our paleolithic ancestor’s diet was far more healthy, nutrient-dense and beneficial than our current, neolithically inclined one. Yes, it was more restrictive, and regional based on what was available and geographical location, and relied heavily on the seasons, but for what Paleolithic people did eat, it was far healthier. Although grains were far more abundant than fruit and meat, it didn’t (and doesn’t) mean that they’re better for us. Paleolithic people thrived on this way of eating, which allowed them to use fat as energy, rather than carbs. And now, modern day paleolithic eaters, myself included, have seen major benefits to this way of eating. Chew on that 😉

Next post in this series: the science behind how primal eating works.

Have I forgotten anything?

What is your perception of primal eating?


8 thoughts on “{Primal lessons} A wee bit of History and Anthropology

  1. Hey Danielle, I just sent you a couple of Tweets, but wanted to reiterate here that your blog has been one of my favorite go-tos in my recent nutritonal research. I also weighed 170+ and stalled at 168 after doing a more conventional diet and lots of exercise. Now that I eat lots of fats and minimal carbs, I’ve made it to 158 in just a little over a month. Can’t wait to reach my goal weight of 145! I’m inspired by you recently getting there 🙂

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