Debunking the paleo diet | Christina Warinner | TEDxOU

TED Fellow Christina Warinner is an expert on ancient diets. So how much of the diet phad the “Paleo Diet” is based on an actual Paleolithic diet? The answer is not really any of it.

Dr. Christina Warinner has excavated around the world, from the Maya jungles of Belize to the Himalayan mountains of Nepal, and she is pioneering the biomolecular investigation of archaeological dental calculus (tartar) to study long-term trends in human health and diet. She is a 2012 TED Fellow, and her work has been featured in Wired UK, the Observer,, Der Freitag, and Sveriges TV. She obtained her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2010, specializing in ancient DNA analysis and paleodietary reconstruction.

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50 Replies to “Debunking the paleo diet | Christina Warinner | TEDxOU”

  1. Atze

    So, what is the point of this unbearable babble? It must be the assumption that the creators of the „Paleo Diet“ failed in creating a academically approved reconstruction of the paleolithic period.
    But that is most obviously not the intention of the “Paleo Diet”. The intention of a special diet is making people loose weight and live healthier. That works just fine with the “Paleo Diet”.
    The fact that this diet is working makes you and all your scientific authority look ridiculous when nagging about some academically so imported details in the reconstruction of the Paleolithic period might not have been produced quite correct.

  2. Robin Lillian

    Corrections: 3. Paleolithic people and farming groups BOTH preserved food for lean times. If all you could eat was fresh food, you would be more likely to starve in the winter/dry season or if the hunt was not successful that day. They knew how to dry, salt, smoke, and ferment animal and plant foods. Dried foods are very light and easy to carry. Every society has its traditional fermented foods. Alcoholic beverages of all types are everywhere. Hunter gatherers had/have them, too. They just have to drink their concoctions before moving on. Wild alcoholic ferments do mostly have a lot less alcohol. 4. Honey. They didn't have sugar cane, but they did have honey, which is even sweeter. They did eat the honey with the comb. One of the first alcoholic beverages was mead, which is made with watered down honey.

  3. Robin Lillian

    Corrections: 1. Actually, Vitamin C IS present in RAW meat. Raw adrenal organs have a particularly large amount. It just is destroyed by the heat of cooking. 2. Wild animals actually often DO have large amounts of fat, especially in temperate regions when they store fat for the winter. It depends. Bone marrow especially has a lot of fat. Wild animals have more Omega 3 fats, too. Traditional peoples often reject the very lean muscle tissue that modern people prefer. Even carnivores, like lions and tigers, will go for the fat and organ tissues first in fresh kills.

  4. Umesh Janardhanan

    Hundreds of diets, hundreds of debunkers. The simple conclusion is that science is far from a definitive answer on diet. Best we can do as human beings is learn from people in our gene pools [family], who are doing things right and do some bit of experimenting on ourselves for the better of the human race. We may fail and die a little earlier than expected, or maybe live a fuller life than ever. So there is no right or wrong diet [atleast as of now], it's the sacrifice to betterment of human life that matters.

    And don't forget to document.


    No they had not a LOT of meat it was 90 % veggies, berries, fruits and some wild roots an herbs especially in tropical areas ! and a LITTLE wild lean meat sometimes in winter time or COLDER areas ! the man is a frugivore originnaly but probably they had to eat a bit of meat and wild fish , when it is winter time and the fruits and greens were not growing. or when migrations took man up to the North. milk is not digestible by man, Period.nor cereals .period,

  6. Carlos Von Ral

    she's talking shit. meat is protective against scurvy. There are a lot of people that only eat meat and they dont get scurvy. just watch some african civilizations. She didin't debunk shit. Read about Loren Cordain.

  7. Gj Wilson

    +Praise The Masculine Flames — Carb is not the source for our body function. Our body uses Fat to extract all the nutrients. carb intake limit is 30-40%, also our body can extract all the required nutrients (including carb and protien) from fat. Too much carb will only increase the sugar level and will weeken our body metabolism, and it results in diabetics.

    "The biggest killer in the 21st century is diabetics due to excess carb" Mark my words…

  8. Sreekumar Chirukandoth

    Was this talk really on TED? Sounded more like a vegangelic pushing the PETA agenda!! I felt it was a very vague presentation with data that the presenter herself felt was equivocal. How lame of anybody to try to use intestine length as evidence to debunk carnivorism in humans, a ploy I would associate with shady characters like Maneka rather than a 'scientist'. A human weighing 70 kg has a 7 M long intestine while a goat of 30 kg has a 20 M long one, not to mention the special vats for fermenting the plants. You do the math! And she missed the whole point…paleo diet basically pushes for a low carb-high protein/fat diet, not necessarily the same stuff the Neanderthals ate.

  9. Gj Wilson

    She just made a joke about Paleo diet, great standup speech. Hope she Learns and find out the facts, because people like her have
    misleading information.


  10. Gj Wilson

    First of all i am following the paleo diet and i do test my blood sugar level once in 2 months and i see a huge improvement in health condition, i am 100% normal, than i was before 4 months back. Because Paleo is about consuming carb less than 25%, because that is the exact amount our body can process in a day, and the remaining 60% is protein, vitamins, fibre and so on.

    Paleo advocates less carb, because in the so called 21st century, we have diabetes and obesity on the rise. And carb is the real culprit to that, as most of the people consume too much carb in the name of food.

  11. Matheus Bitencourt

    Paleo diet is way better than any other diet. Modern diet high in carbohydrate sucks!
    In fact, our meats and vegetables aren't EXACTLY what they were 10000 years ago. But I bet that our "modern" beef is still way closer to our primal beef than the breakfast cereal that you see on the market shelves. The point is: To eat PALEO today isn't eat exactly equal to the Paleo era eating, it's about reaching 90% of precision and eating only natural, fresh, whole and unprocessed foods.

  12. MParentWetmore

    Why is she deliberately lying about the diet? Read Loren Cordain, he explains the diet correctly and has the scientific proof to back it up. The true Paleo diet emphasizes mostly vegetables, lean meats, organ meats and bone marrow. Just exactly what she said paleolithic people ate! The diet specifically states to stay away from modern farm fed animals! And to eat lean grass fed meat. I think she has a hidden agenda.

  13. Dawn Angela

    All the people in favour of eating meat, forget to mention that she said at the beginning that our bodies are not designed for meat, but more for plant foods. The fact that plant foods are better for us as well as better for the animals and the planet speaks volumes. When people stop polluting their bodies with the wrong types of foods then their health will improve

  14. keith

    she really pushed the meat myth. the paleo diet doesn't say to throw away agricultural production. and it doesn't say that we shouldn't have a heavy plant diet at all. most of the paleo diet is plant based supplemented with meat. not sure if she actually read Rob Wolf's book.

  15. videos

    just back from living in nature, didnt find any grain or corn fields, just some grass seeds, not tasty at all. Starting making fields of grains was a stupid idea of the human.

  16. Chris Crutchley

    Part of the problem relating to the criticism of the video by some, is that the title of it is misleading. At first reading the impression is that the Paleo diet is a bad diet (which is why I clicked on it). A better title would be: "What we call Paleo Diet is hardly Paleolithic at all". Or "The Modern Version of the Paleolithic Diet"

  17. Gina Van Luven

    One of the most informative, yet simple dietary talks I've heard in a long time! I would love to see studies done on the long-term affects of eating paleo. My theory is that there would be major issues as a result of undigested protein.

  18. Marc Montti

    cavemen living to 30 years is only part of the story…contrarily, some
    groups of "cavemen" were physically superior (even to most modern

    1. robust bone structure
    2. resilient against breaks.
    3. run great distances (30 miles+)
    4. no tooth decay… (less than 1% of teeth showed signs of decay)
    5. no crooked teeth ("Superior dental Arches")
    6. kept their teeth at older ages
    7. less UV Damage (much less skin & eye Damage)
    8. Greater potential for more diversity in their Intestinal flora
    9. superior mental capacity "cognitive function"
    10. Life Expectancy was potentially longer (Superior DNA Integrity)
    11. better fast twitch (muscle reaction in fight or flight)
    12. sprint up to 40 Mph (theoretical max of muscle "mechanical

    the worst part is… its scientifically verifiable, yet most people cant
    imagine it and wouldn't believe it because its outside the realm of
    acceptable reality.

    yet it is truly is Extraordinary.

  19. IAmAgainst

    I'm not planning on watching it although I do wonder what could she have against eating natural foods and avoiding highly processed stuff like refine sugars and flours or seeds oils..

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