Anthropologist Debunks the Paleo Diet-Dr Christina Warinner

This poorly titled lecture by Christina Warinner, an archaeological anthropologist at the University of Oklahoma who, for the past ten years has been researching our food in the past by looking at the dental calculus of ancient human remains and using this to go back in time to calculate what our ancestors ate.

For someone with such an insight into the human diet, it is unfortunate that she found it necessary to claim to ‘debunk’ the Paleo diet of today stating that the diets philosophy is that agricultural diets are terrible and we should all be eating nothing but meat like the cave men of our past, that all our problems started 10,000 years ago when agriculture began and that this diet certainly does not include foods like grains legumes or dairy and that Paleo has no basis in the archaeological record.

Debunking something on YouTube is usually something I would avoid because these media headlines are usually just click bait, but I was attracted by the archaeologist’s credentials. She claims that the Paleo diet specifically calls to the past to justify the nature of the diet, implying that it is a disconnect between then and now that is causing the ‘diseases of civilisation’ and goes on to say that the Paleo image is one of masculine men eating huge amounts of T bone steaks.

So what does this debunking actually involve? She claims that the Paleo philosophy is that humans evolved to eat meat, consume large quantities of it and nothing else, but if she had looked closely at the work of  Dr. Loren Cordain Founder of the Paleo movement I am sure she would realise that most of what she is saying is in agreement with the Paleo approach.

“Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables naturally leads to higher fiber intake. Dietary fiber is essential for good health, and despite what you’ve probably heard, whole grains aren’t the place to find it. Non-starchy vegetables contain eight times more fiber than whole grains and 31 times more fiber than refined grains. Even fruits contain twice as much fiber as whole grains and seven times more fiber than refined grains!”

“The Paleo diet calls for moderate to higher fat intake dominated by monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats with a better balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. When following the Paleo diet, you will cut the trans fats and the omega-6 polyunsaturated fats in your diet and increase the healthful monounsaturated and omega-3 fats that were the mainstays of our ancestors.”
Excerpts from Dr. Cordains website

She does not mention that the diet advocates avoiding changes to our current food production by promoting grass fed hormone free animal product, pesticide free crops, and eliminating pasteurised dairy and refined carbohydrates from our diet.  She also states that the meat consumed by our ancestors was extremely lean, therefore we couldn’t have eaten hardly any fat but she neglects to say that organ meat, bone marrow and cartilage were also consumed and probably given priority.

Surprisingly, at the end of her talk, her own dietary advice actually lines up with the Paleo Diet. She states that humans are not carnivores but omnivores and the Paleo approach does not dispute this, it just advocates the consumption of Whole, Real, Food.

So it appears that Dr Warinner has actually debunked her own debunking. It is a shame that she took this approach when presenting her research which is actually very interesting, Adventures in Genomics  a video series she is involved in, is well worth viewing  despite Dr Warinner’s ill-conceived solo lectures.

2 Replies to “Anthropologist Debunks the Paleo Diet-Dr Christina Warinner”

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