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Byron Shire
February 1, 2023

Mandy Nolan’s Soap Box: Carbs for caveman

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Nutrition Newsflash: Caveman ate carbs. According to a new study in The Quarterly Review of Biology, the low carb interpretation of the paleolithic palate is all wrong. Caveman didn’t just eat protein. Cave men and women also had a hankering for starchy goodness.

I guess that means it’s time for all you paleo proselytes to have a good look at your protein-laden plates. You have been following a diet that is totally misguided. It’s hysterical. Not just misguided, but wrong. No wonder your brains have been shrinking! You were probably following a version of the caveman diet, but the strain of cave men whose food patterns you were mimicking died out because they had no access to glucose.

Glucose is necessary for brain development and responsible for good brain function. In fact it’s pretty clear our brains grew significantly about 800,000 years ago when we learnt how to cook carbs. I’m not talking a deep fryer here. I’m talking a deep fire.

Nothing like hot sizzling tuber veg with your bison to give you that extra brain buzz. Carb-free cave men died of exhaustion and brain stunting. I love carbs. I might be fat, but man, I am as sharp as a tack. I’m also as strong as an ox. If we went back to cave days you wouldn’t want some stringy little carb avoider on your team, you’d want a big strapping tough chick like me. I can push out a baby in an hour and a half and be back in the kitchen cooking soup by dinner.

I also keep a damn tidy cave. I heard the report on ABC news radio last night. I wondered how our paleo population have taken it. Man that has to be embarrassing. That’s like telling everyone you are gluten intolerant and being sprung chowing down on a muffin.

It’s probably even more embarrassing if you’ve opened one of those stupidly trendy paleo cafes and now you have to add chips! It’s not trendy, it’s not new, its something our grandmothers told us: ‘eat a little bit of everything’ and once again it looks like moderation is the key health message.

I guess it’s hard to find a way to market moderation because it’s so obvious. Eat a wide range of fruit and vegetables, eat protein, and, dare I say it, eat some starch and grains. As long as it’s not processed into submission then bread ain’t gonna kill you after all.

Toast is back. Which is great because toast is good for the soul. It’s humble food. I reckon Caveman would have eaten toast. Toast and Vegemite before he went out on the big dinosaur kill. Or whatever large angry beast they ritually hunted for their grub.

Personally I don’t think it’s a surprise that cavemen ate carbs. When you think about it, they probably needed carbs more than most. It may come as a shock to some of you but cavemen didn’t have cafes. They certainly didn’t go to trendy paleo cafes. They had to hunt. Post menopausal women and children would gather. They gathered seeds, and berries, and starchy root vegetables. And the blokes would run into the wilderness with sticks and sharp stones and hope like fuck they killed something before it killed them, and if they got home without killing anything, the peri-menopausal woman would kill and eat them instead.

Protein is a very inefficient glucose converter. You’d need more than meat to keep those legs pumping when closing in or clearing out from a big a predator.

Imagine the scenario: Caveman Barry would be slowing down, a large wolf hot on his heels. His caveman mates would be ahead yelling ‘run Barry run!’ Barry can’t move. His legs are wooden. The giant wolf leaps forward and pulls Barry down, mauling his torso in an orgiastic frenzy.

Barry’s mates make it to safety. One of them asks ‘What happened to Barry? Why didn’t he make it?’ The oldest, and wisest of the cavemen leans down and sadly nods ‘Barry was on the paleo diet.’ The cave goes quiet. Then rustling comes from under the bear skin of Ralph, the youngest of the clan. There is a strange popping sound and Ralph says ‘Would anyone like a chip?’


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