Many people consider the Paleo diet and lifestyle a fad and a somewhat new fantasy about imitating a cavemen-like existence, trying to live more like our “healthier” ancestors before technology, industry and mass food production. Granted, much of the way Paleo is treated and preached could fit into the “fad” or fantasy categories but here’s the thing: whether it’s a fad or not, a fantasy or not, living in the old style is not a new concept. Contrary to what many people believe and are subsequently using as criticism against Paleo and ancestral health, using health and lifestyle clues from the past wasn’t dreamt up in the last few years with the birth of blogs and Facebook or even in 2000 with the publishing of The Paleo Diet book. It is even older than a few of the books credited with predating the Paleo craze, which were published in the 1960s, 70s or 80s. The concept of shunning the ills of modern life goes back a long time and even had a pretty strong run in the late 1800s. Back then they called it Physical Culture but the premise was the same: forget the modern spoils and eat, exercise and live naturally, like humans have done in the past. NPR recently did a short segment on this so I will let them offer up the detailed version…
Paleo Diet Culture Echoes Physical Movement Culture of Yesteryear
Linked in this article is a presentation by Hamilton Stapell that goes into this in even more detail…
Ancestral Health in Historical Context: From Physical Culture to the Primal Life
The question that remains is if this reincarnation of living more like our ancestors will stick around or if it will fade into the sunset. Certainly widespread Internet and social media exposure combined with a growing body of science/research behind it, the current Ancestral/Evolutionary Health paradigm has a strong platform, some strong momentum and isn’t showing many signs of slowing down. As a holistic life approach, it holds promise in a number of ways and will hopefully get a chance to continue to develop both theoretically and scientifically/clinically.
Time will tell how this reinvention of living in the old way evolves. At this point my money is on it gaining more momentum in the coming years and lasting a while (even though I think the Paleo label will have a pretty short shelf-life). However it works out and whether it is thought of as Ancestral, Evolutionary or even Historical, living like our ancestors has the same, or maybe more, allure as ever before.
Thanks for reading, have a great day!