In 1990, Audette met long distance runner, Troy Gilchrist, who later worked with him to produce the book NEANDERTHIN: A Caveman's Guide to Nutrition, released in 1995, ten years after Audette adopted a Paleo diet. In November of 1999, the revised edition, NEANDERTHIN: Eat Like A Caveman to Achieve a Lean, Strong, Healthy Body was released.
Audette's book has been endorsed by several prominent doctors, researchers, anthropologists, lawyers, body builders and lay people who were unable to shed excess fat or recover their health by other means. The premise of Audette's book is that humans are not designed to eat certain foods, namely refined, processed, artificial, man-made and agricultural foodstuff, and when we do, our bodies malfunction, leading to an early demise. This eating plan is simple: Any food you can find on the ground, pluck off a bush, or kill with a stick and eat, is food that your body has been perfected to digest. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits and nuts are in; grains, beans, dairy products, sugar and processed foods are out.
Why no grains?
According to archaeologists, early human diets probably did not include any grains, which are inedible without using tools for milling and cooking. To the best of our current knowledge, humans did not have facilities for preparing grains for human consumption prior to approximately 10,000 years ago. So, vegetables and fruits probably were the primary carbohydrate source for all humans before the invention of agriculture. Sure, some humans have been eating processed cereal grains for roughly 10,000 years, but there is no evidence that this habit has substantially caused any evolutionary change in human gastrointestinal anatomy or physiology.
Furthermore, since whole grains are less nutrient dense (containing less vitamins, minerals and antioxidants) than vegetables and fruits and require far more processing (cooking, refining, polishing, fermenting) to be edible and digestible, one gets more nutritional benefits by focusing on vegetables and fruits. According to S. Boyd Eaton M.D. and Stanley B. Eaton M.D., "A recent comprehensive analysis (150 scientists reviewed 4500 research studies) puts this phenomenon into perspective. The influence of dietary variables on 18 different cancers was assessed. Vegetables were found to exert a convincing protective effect for five cancers, a probable preventive effect for four others and a possible preventive effect for another seven. For fruits, the analysis revealed four convincing, four probable and four possible preventive relationships. For cereal grains there were no convincing or probable preventive relationships, only one possible preventive effect and for one cancer (of the esophagus), grains may possibly have increased the risk."
Why is meat in and why are beans out?
Aside from water, lean meat, poultry, fish and egg whites are composed primarily of protein and fat, contain virtually no carbohydrate, and their protein is of high biological value. In contrast, beans are composed primarily of starches, many of them indigestible by human digestive enzymes, with lesser amounts of low biological value protein. Anatomically, all known primates are capable of digesting raw meat and include some meat in their diets. This is especially true of humans, as the human digestive tract is unique among primates in being more like that of carnivorous animals (including a very acidic, sterile stomach) not found among herbivorous, i.e. vegetarian, animals. As with carnivores, when humans with healthy stomach acid levels eat raw meat, there is almost 100 percent digestive efficiency (i.e. practically no waste).
In contrast, mature beans, peas and legumes are indigestible for humans when they are raw. Even when soaked and cooked, some components of beans are indigestible. Many people notice gas in the bowel following a meal containing beans; this is a result of bacterial fermentation of the starches in beans that are, for humans, indigestible. Furthermore, beans lack essential nutrients (including certain vitamins and essential fatty acids) found only in animal products and are not equivalent to animal meats in composition. In fact, beans contain compounds that inhibit digestion of protein and absorption of minerals, so therefore, they cannot be considered legitimate substitutes for meats.
So what does a typical Paleo diet look like?
There is no one Paleo diet. There are many different ways that people put the principles into practice. Some individuals follow a low-carb Paleo diet, although an equal or greater number don't restrict carbohydrates and eat two, three or four times the USDA's recommended five servings of produce per day. One way to do this is to put fresh and frozen vegetables on the bottom of your food pyramid, then fresh and dried fruits, then fish, poultry, lean red meats, and eggs, then nuts, seeds and virgin pressed oils. Although, we've been told by the popular press that meat is high in fat and bad for us, there are many types of lean meat and fowl available and all the evidence to date shows that eating more fish (as many hunter-gatherers did) is beneficial. Furthermore, the urban hunter-gatherer may actually find that he is eating less saturated fat than before. The absence of milk fat and hydrogenated vegetable oils will compensate for any increase in red meat consumption, says Audette.
If you eat like this, you'll definitely create a more nutrient-rich diet than the typical food pyramid follower. By avoiding refined and processed foodstuff, you'll also cut out a long list of preservatives, additives, chemicals, artificial colorings, cheap fillers, altered fats and other substances that our bodies are not designed to deal with and actually damage our physiology.
For more information on these diets,
there are a few websites you can visit:
and a series of extensive resources found at
Rachel Albert-Matesz is a freelance nutrition journalist, healthy cooking coach and cooking instructor based in Toledo, OH. Don Matesz is an I.A.R.T. certified resistance trainer. For more information on rational high-intensity training, visit the I.A.R.T. website at www.i-a-r-t.com , or contact Don at Primal Wisdom . The pair currently resides in Phoenix AZ. Formerly in Toledo, Ohio.