A new scientific study points out that the brains of early humans, belonging to the Paleolithic Era, possibly grew thanks to a diet based on meat and carbohydrates.
The Paleolithic Period, also known as the Old Stone Age, is the cultural period of the Stone Age beginning with the earliest chipped stone tools, approximately 2.4 million years ago, until the start of the Mesolithic Period.
The Paleolithic diet is considered to be a diet based on what humans’ ancestors were likely to have consumed, especially meat, fish, berries and nuts, excluding dairy, as they hadn’t become accustomed to primary dairy products back then.
Many think of the Paleolithic diet as a remarkably efficient one at the present time as well, as it is considered that what used to be good for our metabolisms back in the Old Stone Age would be good for us nowadays too.
As the agricultural evolution hadn’t begun in those ancient times, the diet was high in vegetables, meat and fish, except cereals and dairy products. It’s said that this diet, which was very rich in proteins, helped the brains of early humans develop and grow.
However, University College London conducted a study that would contradict the previous beliefs, whereas they say that people roaming the earth back then did not avoid carbohydrates. Instead they would consume starchy plants very often that would allow their brain development.
Moreover, starch is a naturally abundant carbohydrate found primarily in seeds, fruits and roots of plants, for instance in potatoes, corn, wheat and rice, commonly prepared as a tasteless powder.
Prof. Mark Thomas explained that carbohydrates ought to be introduced in the Paleo diet, as they, alongside meat, had been likely to permit humans to become the dominant species they are today, worldwide.
The Paleo diet was introduced to the general public in the 1960s. It’s based on the idea that after having started to chip tools, our ancient ancestors began to kill more animals, moving away from a plant-based diet to a more protein-based one, meaning they indulged in meat more often.
The main idea of Prof. Thomas’ scientific study was that the Paleolithic folk used to eat both meat and starchy plants, and this combination was the reason why their brains developed. Starch-digesting enzymes were secreted in their saliva and pancreas; these would ease digestion and work as an impulse to brain growth.
So, even though the Paleo diet has been criticized by nutritionists, Prof. Thomas concluded that plant carbohydrates and meat were essential in human evolution.
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