Cavemen ate mostly plant-based foods, says study which debunks the meat-heavy paleo diet

Cavemen ate mostly plant-based foods, says study which debunks the meat-heavy paleo diet

Authors behind a new study say their discovery that cavemen ate mostly plant-based debunks the largely meat-based paleo diet.

The paleo diet was designed to mimic the way people ate until 2000 BC, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

Also known as the caveman or Stone Age diet, the paleo diet is based on what people consumed during the Paleolithic period, theorising that human genetics and anatomy have not changed much since then. 

It is based around lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.

The fruit and vegetables that are included in the diet are low-glycemic, and the majority of the diet is protein

However, a new study, titled Isotopic evidence of high reliance on plant food among Later Stone Age hunter-gatherers at Taforalt, Morocco, suggests that meat was not the primary source of protein at that time.

Debunking the paleo diet

The study, which was published by the Nature Ecology & Evolution Journal, analysed the chemical signatures of the Paleolithic group, the Iberomaurusians, within bones and teeth.

Researchers used stable isotope analysis, looking at the nitrogen and zinc isotopes in teeth enamel and collagen.

This allowed them to assess how much meat the Iberomaurusians ate.

Meanwhile, using carbon isotopes allowed them to find out whether their primary source of protein was meat or fish.

Additionally, according to researchers, they saw an abundance of cavities in the Iberomaurusian remains, which were buried in the Taforalt caves.

They say these cavities indicate the consumption of fermentable starchy plants which could include beets, corn, rye, and cassava.

Plant matter in the diet

Zineb Moubtahij, the study’s lead author, said: “Our analysis showed that these hunter-gatherer groups, they included an important amount of plant matter, wild plants to their diet, which changed our understanding of the diet of pre-agricultural populations.”

Klervia Jaouen, a co-author of the study, described the ‘high proportion of plants in the diet of a pre-agricultural population’ as ‘unusual’. 

She added that the study marks the first time that using isotope techniques has revealed the ‘significant plant-based component in a Palaeolithic diet’.

However, the study notes that the findings are not indicative of the protein intake of all cavemen.

It’s time to bust myths about cavemen diets and canine teeth. Get the facts and learn if humans are really designed to eat meat.

Featured photo © Gorodenkoff via Adobe Stock


Kerri Waldron

My name is Kerri Waldron and I am an avid healthy lifestyle participant who lives by proper nutrition and keeping active. One of the things I love best is to get to where I am going by walking every chance I get. If you want to feel great with renewed energy, you have to practice good nutrition and stay active.

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