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17 January 2013
Modern 'palaeo diet' not as good as the original

It has been a long held belief that Stone Age hunter-gatherers, from the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods, had a truly carbohydrate free diet. This belief was based on the assumption that there was no access to either rice or processed foods like bread and pasta. This has lead to the emergence of a modern dietary fad known as the 'palaeo diet'.
     Now a lecturer from Copenhagen (Denmark) University's Saxo Institute has cast doubt on this assumption. Sabine Karg believes that Palaeolithic man was not so fussy about his food. What would happen if this so-called hunter-gatherer failed to make a kill and had a hungry family to feed? Well, he would be forced to find whatever sustenance was available, and so turned to harvesting wild grasses, aquatic plants, root vegetables and the like, all of which would have been readily available at that time.
     Evidence of all of those types of carbohydrate based food sources have been found in old settlements of the period, either in the burn area of fires or in settlements which subsequently flooded, thus preserving any organic material. But did Stone Age man suffer as a consequence? Evidently not at all, as the carbohydrates he eat did not contain the teeth rotting sugars that we consume today.
     Sabine Karg is quoted as saying "The advantage with the starch sources they had, e.g. root vegetables, is that it's course food, which actually helps clean the teeth".
     So if we truly want to pursue a 'palaeo diet' then get chewing those grasses!

Edited from ScienceNordic (4 January 2013)

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