Ancient Carbs? So, Did Cavemen Eat Bread? by Josef Brandenburg

Ancient Carbs?  So, Did Cavemen Eat Bread? by Josef Brandenburg

Don’t believe everything you read in the news… actually, if it has to do with nutrition or exercise, you can probably assume the article is at the very least a little off, if not completely wrong.  For examples of that look here, here, or here.

Josef Brandenburg personal training

There is a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that has the media all buzzing with things like:

“In other words, our ancient ancestors may have been grinding grain into flour.”

“Bread Was Around 30,000 Years Ago”

“Paleolithic Diet Wasn’t Paleo!”

And this is news since in pretty much all interpretations of a Paleo diet grains are “bad” and ancient humans (10,000, 100,000, or 1,000,000yrs ago) didn’t eat them, and they cause a host of health problems because they are so foreign to our diets.

Umm, well, maybe.

The intro paragraph of the study does say, “Here we report on starch grains recovered on grinding stones from…” [emphasis added]


Taken out of context, this would seem to mean that they are talking about grains like wheat, barley, oats and rye.  But, if you read the study, that’s not really the case.  They mean grains as in a grain of salt – as in “a minute portion or particle” according to Merriam-Webster.

If you take a look at the very first table they lay out the parts of plants that they found: root, root, root, caryopsis (a grain as we normally use the word grain), root, seed, root, rhizome (root like a ginger root – big and massive), and rhizome.  They found 9 things and ONE was probably a grain like we think of grains.

The researchers were talking about little pieces (grains) of starch.  That is more than semantics, as grains in and of themselves, beyond just their high starch content, seem to be bad news, especially for fat loss.  This is actually consistent with many interpretations of “Paleo” – if you are going to eat starch, eat root veggies, but avoid grains because we’ve been eating root veggies for a very long time.

This doesn’t answer the question of if humans should be eating grains or not.  For more on if grains are actually good for you click here.

Josef Brandenburg is the owner of The Body You Want.  He was the 2010 Washington, DC Personal Trainer of the Year Nominee for both Personal Fitness Professional Magazine and The Washington, DC Fitness Association, The DC Fitness Advisor and the Fitness Expert for the PCOS Challenge TV Show.  The Body You Want shows normal people with hectic lives and average genetics how to create the bodies they want in the time they actually have with personal training services in Washington, DC.

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