Paleolithic lifestyle

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This article is about a modern lifestyle choice. For how humans lived in the paleolithic era, see Paleolithic § Human way of life.

In a Paleolithic lifestyle (also known as paleo or primal lifestyle), one attempts to live as humans presumably did in the Paleolithic era (Old Stone Age), or to recreate such a lifestyle in the present day. The rationale for such an approach is that humans have evolved for millions of years in a Paleolithic environment.[dubious ] Therefore, their body and mind can be expected to be adequately adapted to the concomitant hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Agriculture, on the other hand, only appeared about 10 000 years ago at the beginning of the Neolithic era, and industrial society only about 200 years ago. Proponents of a Paleolithic lifestyle assert that insufficient time has passed for humans to adapt to the changes brought by farming and industrialization, leading to a mismatch between modern lifestyle and the human genome.

While a small number of cultures in the world continue to live a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, a subculture of people has emerged in Western societies who try to recreate elements of a Paleolithic lifestyle.[1][2] Their motivation is to enhance health, fitness and happiness by avoiding the common "diseases of civilization", such as obesity, some cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome, increasingly prevalent allergies, some forms of depression, and chronic stress. These diseases are not yet evidenced among hunter-gatherers, and therefore they are attributed to the modern, "civilized" lifestyle.[3][4][dubious ]

The movement is primarily associated with the Paleolithic diet, but also includes going barefoot, and replicating a Paleolithic exercise routine, or involve Paleolithic survival skills. Some people advocate prehistoric lifestyles for animals, notably raw feeding and natural hoof care. More generally, the paleo movement fits within a "back to nature" philosophy, as advocated, e.g., by many environmentalists. It rejects any notions that vegetarianism or veganism is a natural lifestyle, given the evidence that Paleolithic people and most present-day hunter-gatherers consumed substantial amounts of animal protein.[5][dubious ] Evidence such as this comes from scientific disciplines like anthropology, paleoanthropology, evolutionary medicine, evolutionary psychology, and environmental psychology.[dubious ]

Researchers[who?] have argued for higher levels of physical activity, suggesting that human genes evolved with the expectation of requiring a certain threshold of physical activity and that a sedentary lifestyle results in abnormal gene expression.[6][undue weight? ] Compared with ancestral humans, modern humans often have increased body fat and substantially less lean muscle, which is a risk factor for insulin resistance.[7] Human metabolic processes were evolved in the presence of physical activity–rest cycles, which regularly depleted skeletal muscles of their glycogen stores.[8] To date, it is unclear whether these activity cycles universally included prolonged endurance activity (e.g., persistence hunting) and/or shorter, higher-intensity activity. It is estimated that ancestral humans spent one-third of their caloric intake on physical activity (1000 cal/day out of a total caloric intake of 3000 cal/day)[9] and that the Paleolithic lifestyle was approximated by the WHO recommendation of a physical activity level of 1.75, or 60 minutes per day of moderate-intensity exercise.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ P. Bethge (2010) A Stone Age Subculture Takes Shape in the US, Der Spiegel (02/11/2010).
  2. ^ The New Age Cavemen and the City, by Joseph Goldstein, The New York Times, January 8, 2010.
  3. ^ Carrera-Bastos P.; Fontes-Villalba M.; O'Keefe J. H.; Lindeberg S.; Cordain L. (2011). "The western diet and lifestyle and diseases of civilization". Research Reports in Clinical Cardiology: 15. doi:10.2147/RRCC.S16919. 
  4. ^ Eaton S. B.; Konner M.; Shostak M. (1988). "Stone agers in the fast lane: chronic degenerative diseases in evolutionary perspective". The American Journal of Medicine. 84 (4): 739–749. doi:10.1016/0002-9343(88)90113-1. PMID 3135745. 
  5. ^ Carrera-Bastos P.; Fontes-Villalba M.; O'Keefe J. H.; Lindeberg S.; Cordain L. (2011). "The western diet and lifestyle and diseases of civilization". Research Reports in Clinical Cardiology: 15. doi:10.2147/RRCC.S16919. 
  6. ^ Frank W Booth, et al. (2002). "Exercise and gene expression: physiological regulation of the human genome through physical activity". J Physiol. 543 (Pt 2): 399–411. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2002.019265. PMC 2290514Freely accessible. PMID 12205177. 
  7. ^ S. Boyd Eaton; et al. (2009). "Evolution, body composition, insulin receptor competition, and insulin resistance" (PDF). Preventive Medicine. 49: 283–285. doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2009.08.002. 
  8. ^ <Please add first missing authors to populate metadata.> (January 2004). "Eating, exercise, and "thrifty" genotypes: connecting the dots toward an evolutionary understanding of modern chronic diseases". J. Appl. Physiol. 96 (1): 3–10. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00757.2003. PMID 14660491. 
  9. ^ W. H. M. Saris (2003). "How much physical activity is enough to prevent unhealthy weight gain? Outcome of the IASO 1st Stock Conference and consensus statement" (PDF). Obesity. 4: 101–114. doi:10.1046/j.1467-789x.2003.00101.x. 
  10. ^ Eaton, SB; Eaton, SB (2003). "An evolutionary perspective on human physical activity: Implications for health". Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A. 136 (1): 153–9. doi:10.1016/S1095-6433(03)00208-3. PMID 14527637. 

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