The Paleo diet’s history goes all the way back to about forty thousand years ago, when humans began to hunt animals and gather fruits, vegetables, and nuts in order to survive. There is no “founder” of the Paleo diet per say; rather, modern fitness gurus and scientists specialize in Paleo research and studies. If you want to give credit to a group of people for discovering this diet and lifestyle, look no further than your caveman ancestors.
It has been documented that we carry the same DNA as our Stone Age ancestors. It is also a fact that our cells carry a genetic blueprint that was shaped in an environment that was much different than our current one. Today, we are basically living in a way that is the opposite of our genetic design that was inherited from our ancestors. So what does this mean? It means that diseases of recent decades—cancer, diabetes, arthritis, etc.—began to appear when we started to change our way of eating.
Agriculture did not exist back then. In fact, it has only exited for the last 10,000 years or so. This means that foods like grains and flours as well as oils have only been around in the last few hundred years. Our bodies simply do not need all of these carbohydrates and processed foods, and current health issues have proven this to be true in some way or another.
In the early 1900s, a man named Joseph Knowles spent two months in the wilderness of Maine and became famous for his survival. He reported of his adventures by writing on tree bark with charcoal, and he wrote of how he ate berries before he learned to fish and hunt. Knowles even used tree bark to make his own clothes and shoes. At times he was even forced to eat bark and roots. Upon returning, Knowles’ health and digestion was declared to be perfect.
He even kept record of his vitals before and after his wilderness stint. Amazingly, Knowles lost more than ten pounds, and he even grew by .1 of an inch. His muscles got bigger and his lung capacity greatly improved. Knowles’ experiment proved that hunting and gathering food made him stronger and healthier.
The Paleo diet was first made popular in the 1970s by Walter L. Voegtlin, a gastroenterologist. He was one of the first advocates to state that the Paleo diet could actually improve people’s health and well-being. His dietary prescriptions were based on his own medical treatments of various digestive problems like IBS and indigestion. Voegtlin wrote 1975’s The Stone Age Diet: Based on In-depth Studies of Human Ecology and the Diet of Man.
Other diets (mostly fads) have become popular since the introduction of the Paleo diet. There are diet books for just about every sort of diet you can think of: Soup diet, Atkins diet, Mediterranean diet, etc. The Paleo diet came back into the limelight in the 90s when nutritionists began to recommend the lifestyle for better health and vitality, and people followed their advice.