Paleopathology and the Origins of the Paleo Diet
1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™
The composition of the diet of early Homo sapiens and their predecessors is relevant to current human health because, over the millennia, this diet shaped our genome. There are a number of ways by which information about their diet can be gleaned from the anthropological and archeological literature. Over time, dietary changes can alter morphology. By correlating modern human morphology with that of human predecessors, we can make assumptions about changes in dietary composition. Stable isotope analysis is another highly technical way to determine the dietary intake of both modern and ancient humans.
Paleopathological evaluation of human remains allows us to document the diseases wrought by changes in diet. The disease processes found in the skeletal remains of hunter-gatherers compared to those found in agriculturalists show the devolution of human health accompanying a switch to an agricultural means of subsistence. One large group of agriculturalists that has been studied extensively — the ancient Egyptians — provides an important data source showing the detrimental effects of a grain-based diet. The ancient Egyptian practice of embalming their dead has left us with tens of thousands of soft tissue remains to study.
Taken together, these various methods of investigation show that although the switch from hunting to farming may have been an advantageous move for humankind, it certainly was not a salubrious move for the individual human.
Dr. Michael R. Eades, MD, received his BS in civil engineering from California State Polytechnic University. After working for six years in engineering, he made a career change and enrolled in medical school at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. After residency, Eades, along with his wife, Dr. Mary Dan Eades, MD, started one of the first chains of urgent care centers in the United States. During his career treating patients in urgent care facilities, Eades developed an interest in nutritional medicine.
His subsequent work with thousands of overweight patients made clear to him that encouraging a reduction of carbohydrate intake worked better than most medications for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and a host of other disorders.
After years of refining his dietary program, Eades, along with his wife, wrote Protein Power, a book that details their methods and went on to become a New York Times best seller for over a year. Since that time, the Eades have published 13 more books in the medical and nutritional field and authored a top-100 health blog at proteinpower.com. They have appeared on ABC, NBC, CNN, Fox, PBS, and hundreds of local TV and radio programs advocating the low-carbohydrate nutritional approach.
- Understand the scientific methods used to determine the prehistoric diet.
- Understand the health consequences of the switch from a hunter-gatherer to an agricultural mode of subsistence.
- Understand how today’s Paleo or low-carb diet is much closer in composition to the diet of ancient man than is the commonly prescribed high-carb, low-fat diet and why this is important to human health.
Disclosures relevant to the speaker:
The individuals involved in course planning have no relevant financial or non-financial disclosures to report related to the planning or presentation of this course.