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Think: Poking Holes In The Paleo Diet


Followers of the Paleo Diet believe we should stick to foods that our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate. Protein – good. Carbs – bad. Today on Think, Krys Boyd talked to a National Geographic writer who’s studied the evolution of the human diet to get her take.

Ann Gibbons says her beef with the Paleo Diet begins with the name.

“When you actually look at their interpretations of the Paleo diet," she says, "It seems to me like they’re stuck in what we think of as a Neanderthal diet. Something that is mainly meat – lots of chewing on bone and bloody meat, no gluten or grains, some plants and fruits and vegetables, but no sugar, no cereals.”

Gibbons says she understands the thinking behind the diet. But the logic has a limit.

“The idea is really sound – it makes sense. Why wouldn’t we avoid the foods that were rough on our health initially, such as grains?" she says. "The problem is: We aren’t the same people. We’re not the hunter-gatherers adapting suddenly to agriculture.”

And she counts herself among people whose ancestors survived the transition from hunter-gatherers to farmers just fine.

“So I’m a northern European. My ancestors herded cattle, drank milk, ate grain. I would assume by now, after … 5,000, 6,000 years, I’ve adapted to that. I can eat those foods without a lot of problems.”

Gibbons writes about the evolution of the human diet in the September issue of National Geographic. You can read her story and listen to the interview on the Think page. The show re-airs tonight at 9.

Stephen Becker is senior producer of the Think show , which airs on more than 25 stations across Texas and beyond. Prior to joining the Think team in 2013, as part of the Art&Seek team, Stephen produced radio and digital stories and hosted "The Big Screen" — a weekly radio segment about North Texas film — with Chris Vognar. His 2011 story about the history of eight-track tapes was featured nationally on NPR's All Things Considered. His works has been recognized with numerous state and national awards.