Paleo Diet Basics - What our Cave Dwelling Ancestors Ate - And Beyond

Paleo diet basics begin with understanding what we know of human history prior to our development of agriculture that began between 10,000-12,000 years ago. In the time prior to that, what we call the paleolithic era, we know that our cave dwelling ancestors were hunter-gatherers and thus, hunted for meat and gathered any edible vegetation available.

Humans have been diverse in what they have eaten throughout the millennia depending on where on the planet they resided and what they had available to them. Certainly, paleolithic people living in warm southern climates would have had a much different diet than the ones living in cold northern ones and would have also varied from season to season.

Agriculture changed human diet as it developed and introduced foods that were either not available before or only available in limited quantity. Those changes happened slowly over the thousands of years that agriculture developed and sped up very quickly as we entered the 20th century. Now, in the new world of food in the 21st century, we have seen drastic and very fast changes to our diet, not only in the kinds of foods we now eat, but the quality of the food. It all adds up to a health epidemic we all suffer from either directly or indirectly today.

First, let's cover the the paleo diet basics and then get into how the food has changed over time to gain perspective on how to build the perfect paleo diet lifestyle and get the most from the benefits of the paleo diet.

The Hunter

Let's take a look at the hunter aspect of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

Our ancestors hunted meat from any resource they were able to access which would have included game, fish, eggs or carrion. They would have been harvested from the surrounding area and ranged from elk to seals depending on where they resided.

The meats consumed by our hunter-gatherer ancestors were just meat to them. To us, in our modern society, it is called organic grass fed meat and wild caught fish. Today, we would regard these as "premium" meats and are typically more expensive. "Premium" is exactly the quality we have always enjoyed from the beginning but it goes deeper than this. Grass fed meats have a very different nutritional profile than factory farmed meats, particularly with saturated fats, fatty acids and vitamins and minerals. Grass fed meats are lower in saturated fats and much higher in omega-3 fatty acids and higher in vitamins and minerals. This difference has a profound effect on our health and our bodies are finely tuned to the nutrition that grass fed meats provide.


It goes without saying that cave men didn't hang out in a cave drinking zero calorie diet sodas loaded with aspartame. Nor were they chugging a sports drink after a hard run chasing dinner.

Water was the primary source of fluids and would have come from lakes and streams and even from gathering rain water using other methods. Either way, it was still water.

Cave men and women also didn't drink water with added fluoride, chlorine and synthetic chemical residues with storm drain runoff. Nor were their water sources tainted with pharmaceutical residues.

Pure water most certainly made up the vast majority of their fluid intake.

It is seriously important to purify your water with a high quality drinking water purification system to get it to cave man quality!

The Gatherer

The gatherer aspect simply means that our ancestors gathered any edible vegetation available from their surroundings to contribute to their overall nutritional intake.

This would have included vegetables, fruits, herbs, raw honey, roots, leafy greens, nuts and seeds. 

In today's terms, all of these items would be known as organic and not genetically modified (GMO's) or sprayed down with synthetic pesticides.

Once again, we would call organic foods a premium product that comes with a premium price, however, it's the quality level we have always had up until very recently in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Eating foods that are on the paleo diet food list but tainted with synthetic pesticides, genetically modified and given chemical ripening agents adds toxic carcinogens to the food that our ancestors never were exposed to. Organic solves most of these problems, provides better nutrition and far less exposure to toxic chemicals.