Paleo Diet: Did Ancient People Consume More Plants, Carbs Than Previously Thought?

First Posted: Dec 27, 2016 04:45 AM EST

The Paleo diet, which is designed to mimic the eating habits of Paleolithic humans, is characterized by the reduction of carbohydrates in the diet and eating more raw fruits and vegetables. However, ancient tooth decay reveals a carb-filled truth about the Paleo diet.

In a new study, published in the journal The Science of Nature, a team of researchers studied the molars of a 1.2 million-year-old hominin unearthed in northern Spain. They found traces of starchy carbohydrates in the teeth of the ancient man.

In fact, they found that there were plaque buildups around the teeth from eating starchy carbohydrates from two plants, Inverse reports. One of the plants is thought to belong to Triticeae, which includes some of today's sources of carbohydrates like barley, wheat and rye.

In another discovery, scientists found a tiny grape pip left on the ground some 780,000 years ago. It is thought to be one of more than 9,000 remains of edible plants found in an old Stone Age site in Israel. This dates back to the Acheulian culture from 1.75 to 0.25 million years ago.

The scientists, who were from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Bar-Ilan University, have been able to study the vegetal diet of humans in the past. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The study highlights the rich variety of plant assortments and subsistence opportunities that were available to the early humans, meaning the Paleo diet during that time was rich in plants.

"This region is known for the wealth of plants, but what surprised us were the sources of plant food coming from the lake. We found more than 10 species that existed here in prehistoric times but no longer today, such as two types of water nuts, from which seven were edible," Dr. Yoel Melamed of the Faculty of Life Sciences at Bar-Ilan University, said in a press release by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


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