Home Ancestral Health Symposium Marlene Zuk on Kim Hill show, National radio, Saturday 8th June, 11.05

Marlene Zuk on Kim Hill show, National radio, Saturday 8th June, 11.05


If you are a New Zealander, you might want to listen in:

Marlene Zuk, who wrote the book Paleo Fantasy is being interviewed by veteran Kill Hill this Saturday on her morning show. at 11.05 am

Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live

An exposé of pseudoscientific myths about our evolutionary past and how we should live today.

We evolved to eat berries rather than bagels, to live in mud huts rather than condos, to sprint barefoot rather than play football—or did we? Are our bodies and brains truly at odds with modern life? Although it may seem as though we have barely had time to shed our hunter-gatherer legacy, biologist Marlene Zuk reveals that the story is not so simple. Popular theories about how our ancestors lived—and why we should emulate them—are often based on speculation, not scientific evidence.

Armed with a razor-sharp wit and brilliant, eye-opening research, Zuk takes us to the cutting edge of biology to show that evolution can work much faster than was previously realized, meaning that we are not biologically the same as our caveman ancestors.


Here is a very recent article adapted from Paleofantasy:

Paleomythic: How People Really Lived During the Stone Age


Having read Mark Sisson’s review on the book, I’m sure I’ll find myself both agreeing and disagreeing with her. It seems like she at times jumps on some of the fadish quotes from the paleo world to make a point such as in :

The Guardian article on Marlene Zuk’s book:

Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet, and How We Live by Marlene Zuk – review. Have Homo sapiens evolved, or should we still be eating a stone age diet?

A snippet from the article:

“Zuk discusses the evidence that human beings are still evolving. On one level, trying to eat like a caveman is simply the latest version of Rousseau’s noble savage. On another, it’s just one more crazy consumer society cult, with its faux-sophisticated peddling of pseudo-knowledge. Zuk quotes a typical example: “there’s three problems with tubers: a) Poisonous substances; b) Carb load; c) Problems we are yet to discover.” This is about the potato: a significant world problem of our time, no doubt. “

My view on the starch, carbohydrate issue:

Although some paleo folk might say starches are a problem, I have never been one of those. Carbohydrates are well tolerated, in fact most feel better for eating them if they are healthy, and do not have messed up metabolisms from their lifestyle and diet.

For many people initially coming to a paleo diet with excess body fat and metabolic issues this broad eat low carb approach is probably the best at least initially. Over time, as lifestyle issues are addressed (sleep, stress and movement) low carb healthy eating can improve insulin sensitivity and allow moderate carbohydrate consumption.

However some of the low carb dogma has infiltrated the paleo community to the point where most people introduced to paleo think it is a very low carb diet, that low carb is good, and carbs are bad not matter what. I see far too many young, healthy, lean or only moderately overweight, very active people dropping carbs to their detriment. Let me just point out though, by comparison to the average, extremely high refined carbohdrate diet – the paleo diet is moderate in carbohydrates by comparison. And those dropping refined grains and sugars, and swapping these for starchy vegetables and some fruit will likely cut their carbohydrate consumption in half.

Here is a great talk from Chris Masterjohn from the last Ancestral Health Symposium:

Oxidative Stress and Carbohydrate Intolerance

The role of carbohydrate in health and disease remains controversial in the ancestral health community. Numerous groups of foragers, pastoralists, and agriculturalists have been found free of the so-called “diseases of civilization” while subsisting on diets rich in carbohydrate, yet clinical trials have shown that low-carbohydrate diets can help reduce disease risk in modernized populations. In this talk I will discuss evidence from my doctoral research suggesting that oxidative stress contributes to carbohydrate intolerance and will review the literature suggesting that oxidative stress is a common cause underlying carbohydrate intolerance in modernized populations. I will conclude by presenting a broad, holistic view of “oxidative stress” that moves beyond “antioxidants” and focuses instead on the density and balance of nutrients in the diet, and the optimization of the hormonal milieu within which those nutrients operate.

Here is slide from his talk showing that humans have a large number of salivary amylase genes suggesting we have been eating starch a lot and are well adapted to eat it.

carbohydrate amylase

Here are some useful reviews of Paleofantasy from those who are qualified in Evolutionary Biology:

Throwing out the mismatch baby with the paleo-bathwater: A review of Marlene Zuk, Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live

Robert O. Deaner, Department of Psychology, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI USA,

Paleofantasy or Paleofantastic?

Miki Ben-Dor, Ph.D candidate at the department of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University. He researches the connection between human evolution and nutrition throughout human prehistory.

And from Mark Sissons:

Is It All Just a “Paleofantasy”?

An Interview from New Scientist

The Paleo Diet Is a Paleo Fantasy. True, we haven’t evolved for modern life. But that doesn’t mean you should eat or exercise old-school.



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