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The neanderthin diet is a high-protein low-carbohydrate diet that is based on the foods eaten by early humans of the paleolithic era, from about one million years ago to 10,000-14,000 years ago when agriculture developed. Since this was the period of rapid evolution of the human species, modern humans are presumed to be genetically adapted to a paleolithic diet.
Neanderthin is the same as or very similar to a:
For 96.6% of our evolutionary history, all human beings were hunter/gatherers. Isolated pockets of hunter/gatherers have survived into the twenty-first century. Early humans hunted animals, fished, and gathered plants for food. There were no crops, such as rice or wheat, and no milk products except for breast milk, although babies were probably breastfed until they were several years old. Although the paleolithic diet varied greatly depending on the geographical location and season, it is likely that early humans used a far greater variety of plants and animals than do modern humans and, perhaps for this reason, may have consumed more vitamins, minerals, and healthy factors such as antioxidants.
Based on the foods that would have been available during the paleolithic and on the foods consumed by modern hunter/gatherers, many experts believe that early humans had a diet that was very high in protein derived from meat—perhaps up to twice as much as modern westerners. Since the meat was from wild animals it was low in fat. Early humans living near oceans, lakes, and rivers would have eaten fish and seafood such as oysters, mussels, and prawns that are also low in fat, particularly saturated fats. However since early humans ate far more of the animal carcass than modern humans, including offal that is now considered inedible, as well as brains and other organs, the paleolithic diet may have been even higher in fat than modern diets. However the fats would have been monounsaturated and polyunsaturated rather than saturated.
The paleolithic diet probably also included large amounts of:
Root vegetables are high in nutrients and fiber and may have provided a large portion of early humans’ energy requirements. Wild berries have more nutrients and antioxidants than modern commercial berries, as well as far less sugar. Salt intake was probably about one-fifth of what the average westerner consumes today.
About 72% of the food consumed by modern humans was unavailable to early humans. The paleolithic diet did not include:
As a young man Ray Audette was stricken first with rheumatoid arthritis and then with diabetes—autoimmune diseases that are prevalent only in agricultural societies. A non-scientist, Audette spent 15 years researching and experimenting with diets that would improve his health. He self-published Nean-der-thin: A Caveman's Guide to Nutrition in 1996.
While Audette helped to popularize the paleo diet, his ideas were not new. Herodotus espoused the benefits of a paleo diet in the fifth century B.C. The concept was revived during the nineteenth century by William Banting and James Salisbury, who ground up cheap beef cuts with fat to make ‘Salisbury steak.’ In the early twentieth century the Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson lived with the Inuit and adopted and publicized their all-meat diet. Buckminster Fuller adopted a low-carbohydrate diet on the theory that nature utilizes energy most efficiently and that vegetables and animal protein are the most concentrated sources of food energy.
In 1985 S. B. Eaton and Melvin Konner published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine reporting that, compared to our modern diet, the paleo diet had far more:
Paleo diets are based on the theory that, since the human genome has changed very little in the past 40,000 years, modern human nutritional requirements should be identical to those of paleolithic humans. However neanderthin is not just a diet—it is a hunter/gatherer way of life. Audette wrote: ‘It's the most natural way to eat. It's the way to become most in tune with nature. As I’ve been doing this, I’ve been becoming more and more of an uncivilized man. I’m no longer a spectator of nature, I’m a participant. Philosophically, you become one with the hunter-gatherer within you.
In general paleo diets consist of:
Neanderthin is a diet of:
ANIMAL PRODUCTS Meats, seafood, and eggs are the most important components of paleo diets. Ideally these come from animals fed on natural organic food and from free-range chickens. Pasture-fed beef and lamb are lower in fat than grain-fed animals. Wild game is the lowest in fat and is the preferred meat. Because of the dangers of bacterial and parasitic contamination, Audette does not suggest eating meat, poultry, eggs, or seafood raw unless it has been irradiated. Meat should be lightly cooked or cooked by paleolithic methods—slow cooking over low heat—a with a crock pot rather than a microwave. Processed meats should be without preservatives or additives such as corn, corn products, soy, starch, or sugars.
Paleo diets include unlimited quantities of unprocessed meat such as:
VEGETABLES Most vegetables are allowed, raw or cooked, fresh or frozen, including:
Potatoes and legumes are prohibited because they require cooking or processing to be edible.
FRUIT, NUTS,ANDSEEDS All fruit and nuts should be consumed fresh and raw. The neanderthin diet calls for very little fruit to achieve maximum weight loss. Canned fruits, preserves, jams, and jellies are prohibited because of their high sugar content and the loss of nutrients during processing. The neanderthin diet allows only limited amounts of juice with pulp and without additives.
Most fruits are permitted including:
Raw cashews contain a toxin and are therefore prohibited.
In general paleo diets allow olive, nut, coconut, and flaxseed oils. Neanderthin beverages are limited to water, tea, and lemon and lime juice. Lard and mustard are permitted.
Forbidden foods include:
A neanderthin menu
A typical neanderthin menu consists of:
Various paleo diets differ in their specifics. Cor-dain's diet recommends canola oil but not coconut or palm oils which are high in saturated fats. For weight loss, nuts and seeds should be limited to 4 oz (110 g) per day. Cordain allows diet soda, coffee, tea, beer, wine, and other alcohol in moderation. He advises easing into the diet in three phases and allows ‘open meals‘ with loosened rules, starting out with three open meals per week. Cordain and others believe that paleo diets are beneficial even if the rules are only partially followed. Some paleo diets merely restrict the amount dairy products and grains. At the very least cereal grains should be restricted to two-three servings daily.
Although neanderthin and other paleo diets are used for weight loss, they are primarily designed to promote good health by providing the foods for which the human body is best adapted. Cordain argues that proteins in agricultural foods such as cereal grains are foreign to the human immune system, since humans did not eat grains during their evolution as a species. Therefore these foods can disrupt the immune system and cause autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
In today's world most people do not have access to game meat and the world's food supply is completely dependent on cereal grains. Thus neanderthin and other paleo diets are only appropriate for those who can afford to eliminate grains from their diets and are willing to eat large quantities of meat.
Proponents of neanderthin and other paleo diets claim that they:
Many people on low-calorie high-carbohydrate diets suffer from hunger pangs and regain any weight lost on the diet. In contrast people usually feel satiated on high-protein diets. Cordain claims that protein also speeds up the metabolism, thereby accelerating weight loss.
The allowable carbohydrates in the neanderthin diet have low GIs that help stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels. The over-consumption of carbohydrates has been linked to numerous health problems including:
Neanderthin eliminates legumes which can be:
Precautions concerning neanderthin and other paleo diets include:
Risks associated with neanderthin and other paleo diets include:
FOSSIL AND ETHNOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE Although there have been no large trials of neanderthin or other paleo diets, there is an increasing volume of scientific evidence to support the benefits of at least some components of these diets. Cordain's paleolithic diet was based on evidence from the fossil record and ethnographic studies of 181 hunter/gatherer groups around the world. This evidence suggests that the pre-agricultural diet was primarily animal-based, with 65% of energy from animal sources and 35% from plant sources—a diet high in protein and low-to-moderate in carbohydrates and fat. Studies indicate that early humans rarely if ever ate cereal grains or diets that were high in carbohydrates. Cereal grains are virtually indigestible by humans without milling (grinding) and cooking. The first grinding stones do not appear in the archeological record until about 10,000-15,000 years ago. Modern hunter/gatherers, such as African Bushmen, Amazonian Indians, and Australian Aborigines, have little heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, or other diseases until they adopt a modern western diet.
Fossil studies have shown that the density and robustness of paleolithic bones were equal to or greater than those of most modern humans, despite a low-calcium high-protein diet without dairy products. This has been attributed to their physical activity, with a daily energy expenditure of twice that of modern humans, vitamin D from working outdoors in the sun, and improved calcium balance due to improved acid-base status from the 35% of energy coming from fruits and vegetables.
The fossil record indicates that, in comparison to their paleolithic ancestors, early farmers had:
NUTRITIONAL EVIDENCE There is little scientific evidence to support the prevailing view that healthy diets should be high in complex carbohydrates such as are found in breads, cereals, rice, and pasta. According to Cordain:
Cordain believes that the modern western diet is not only too high in saturated fats, but that the polyunsaturated fats are out of balance. Cordain's research suggests that prior to the development of agriculture, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids was about 1:1-3:1, whereas in the modern diet the average ratio is 12:1.
CLINICAL STUDIES A 2003 German study found that a diet high in lean meat and relatively low in carbohydrates increased HDL (‘good’) cholesterol and lowered LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol, triglycerides, and
homocysteine levels. They concluded that their results might warrant a reevaluation of high-carbohydrate, low-fat nutrition guidelines. Clinical studies also have shown that people eat fewer calories with high-protein meals than with high-carbohydrate or high-fat meals, probably because protein is more satiating.
OPPOSITION While most scientists and nutritionists agree that increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, reduced saturated fats, and increased activity levels are beneficial, many of them consider paleo diets to be eccentric, if not outright dangerous. Their concerns include:
The majority of nutritionists believe that reduced-or low-fat milk and milk products, cereal foods such as wheat, rice, and pasta, and beans are appropriate foods.
Many scientists question whether a paleo diet would have much affect on modern health, since modern health problems occur primarily in middle age and beyond. It is unlikely that many paleolithic peoples survived to an age at which problems such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, or osteoporosis begin to develop.
The majority of nutritionists and the general public view neanderthin as a quirky fad diet, unsuitable for most people. However paleo diets are gaining popularity among athletes. Nevertheless, although few people have or could adopt neanderthin, there is increased skepticism concerning the overwhelming reliance on grains in typical diets.
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