Those that know me will note that although I recognise the premise behind the so-called ‘Paleo Diet’, I also think it is a convenient and catchy method of packaging up ‘healthy eating’ and selling it.

Now if the packaging up of clean eating works then why not, but researchers (Osteologists to be precise) Adam Boethius and Torbjörn Ahlström postulate how we may have gotten the main element of the now infamous ‘Paleo Diet’…slightly wrong.

No I am not saying it materialised that cavemen actually had no need for hunting and gathering because of settled agriculture or even a handy Tesco round the corner from their cave.

What I’m saying is that we give a hell of a lot of credence to the physical activity involved in hunting (wild boar, elk, deer, rabbit etc) and gathering (mushrooms, berries, vegetables etc), when in fact, the cavemen may have spent a lot of time sat on their rear ends FISHING!

Why is fishing such a shock?

Well until this compelling doctorate study, it was previously thought that the physical act of hunting and gathering through mobile groups of big-game hunters whose main food source was herbivores such as red deer, aurochs and elk. This distracted previous researchers from the possible prevalence of fish and the act of fishing.

What the study found…

The bones of Neolithic people from Sweden were analysed through extraction of collagen from their bones. It is possible for the researchers to tell the main composition of a person’s diet through the stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen in their bones.

The findings showed that around 53% of the protein in the diet came from fish compared to 10% from seals and 37% from land mammals…NOT what they expected to see based on previous understanding.

So what?

Sooo…if you wish to follow what is now widely called the ‘Paleo Diet’ for balanced eating and drinking, then you better aim to get a LOT more of your protein in from fish (and some seal perhaps) rather than good ol red meat and bacon.

Hey, if you’re gonna do it then you might as well do it right.


Adam Boethius, Torbjörn Ahlström. Fish and resilience among Early Holocene foragers of southern Scandinavia: A fusion of stable isotopes and zooarchaeology through Bayesian mixing modelling. Journal of Archaeological Science, 2018; DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2018.02.018

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