In Search of the Perfect Human Diet

I was recently given the opportunity to watch a pre-release copy of CJ Hunt’s long-awaited documentary, “In Search of the Perfect Human Diet.”  Honored and delighted, I accepted. This is a big film, guys. I wouldn’t expect to see it on any Oscar lists or anything, but it’s big nonetheless. You may have heard of it already. Robb Wolf’s been championing the cause since way back in 2010, when CJ was trying to raise funds for production. Erwan Le Corre drummed up some support, too. I gave the trailer’s release some Weekend Link Love last year, and now, on the eve of its release, I’m reviewing the film. I couldn’t be more excited.

This film was a labor of love on the part of CJ. It kinda had to be, since its premise isn’t blockbuster material. It doesn’t tug at heartstrings, nor does it present a harrowing, gripping narrative full of conflicts and conflict resolutions that rival the best feature films. No, “In Search of the Perfect Human Diet” is exactly what it sounds like: the chronicling of one man’s quest to figure out what humans should be eating. It’s not a sexy premise that sponsors would fall all over themselves to get in on. It’s not selling anything (but the film itself). It’s not even promoting any particular paleo or Primal eating book. It appears, on its surface, to be a niche title, with a limited audience, but consider the subject matter. It’s about you, me, your friends, that guy across the street whose name you don’t even know, billions of strangers scattered across the globe, and billions more scattered across time. In short, this movie is about humans, about real people, and the diet we evolved eating. That sounds like a massive target demographic to me. But because the ancestral health community, while growing, is still relatively small, the film had to funded almost entirely by donations from individual humans who love this way of life and believe in it, have garnered benefits from it, and who want it available on a larger, different stage for all to see. If you were among the donators, I thank you, because you made this very important documentary possible.

That said, let’s talk a bit about the contents of the film and why I liked it so much.

First, CJ Hunt is a natural in front of the camera. He has over twenty years of experience in broadcasting, voice-overs, and television, and it definitely shows. The guy has a smooth voice and just comes across really well. No sign of loincloths, spears, scraggly beards (although I have no doubt he could pull one off), or toe shoes that might scare off Grandma.

Second, it tells a great story that should be pretty familiar to most of you. CJ was a seemingly healthy, lean 23-year old doing the right exercises and eating the right food when he had a heart attack. A full cardiac arrest – while jogging, no less. Now, this was due to a birth defect, not a poor lifestyle, but it made him think about health in a different way. He resolved to find the “perfect diet,” if such a thing existed at all. It’s what many of us have gone through, whether personally or vicariously: a catastrophic health event strikes, early in life when everything is supposed to be all peaches and roses; bouncing from diet to diet in his search for absolute dietary truth (complete with forays into veganism and raw foodism), never really finding it; discovering a promising lead on yet another dietary path; following that one, bumping into Paleolithic anthropology, and everything just clicking. Is that your story? It’s mine.

Third, although CJ’s been eating this way for over five years now, he doesn’t assume that the viewer knows what’s going on. He doesn’t gear this movie to you, the faithful Mark’s Daily Apple reader. He aims it directly at those who actually need the help most, as well as the skeptics who think the ancestral lifestyle is nonsense, a “just-so” story steeped in the naturalistic fallacy with zero evidence in its favor. All those common complaints and “debunkings” get smashed to pieces. Best of all, the film’s science is extremely approachable, made all the more so thanks to CJ. When an expert on neanderthal and early human genetics at the Max Planck Institute throws around talk about isotopic dietary analyses that might confuse some folks, CJ asks the right questions to get at the real-world dietary implications of these findings. So instead of jumping out with standard Primal eating prescriptions or suggestions from the start, the film is a gradual exploration of human evolution, including the dietary pressures that shaped and informed that evolution. The diet arises organically out of the scientific groundwork. CJ makes no prescriptions, instead letting the evidence and the experts speak for themselves.

The most moving scenes take place at the dig site and with the Max Planck geneticist. I talk about this stuff all the time, and I and many others write about how meat eating shaped our evolution, but there’s always a sense of distance and abstraction. Links to journal articles are helpful and all, but there’s really nothing like seeing the dig site with the layers of animal bones and tools, hearing the anthropologist with dirty knees from kneeling in the ancient, ancient earth say that the diet of the humans who lived there was “primarily reindeer,” or listening to Prof. Michael Richards discuss how his team has yet to find evidence of a vegan human via isotope analysis. These are the people who actually do the hard labor, write the papers, and run tests talking directly about the implications of their work. Rather than me or Robb or whoever else writing blogs or books about our interpretations of the work, the people who produce the work are stepping out from academia and giving their honest summation of the evidence for ancestral eating. If they’re coming to similar conclusions as us, that’s huge.

Professor Loren Cordain has a great scene where he uses a football field to illustrate just how far we’ve come as a species, how long we were eating wild plants and animals exclusively, and how recently – in the big picture – our lifestyles have drastically changed. It’s a great visual that will resonate with a lot of people.

Overall, “In Search of the Perfect Human Diet” presents a great introduction to and justification for ancestral eating. It’s hard to get someone to read a book or even check out a blog, but if they can sit reasonably still for an hour and a half while an entertaining, engaging movie plays, they’ll get the general idea behind this stuff and want to learn more. It presents a compelling case for the evolutionary foundation of the diet we prescribe.

The movie has been made and released to DVD, but the battle doesn’t stop there. The more copies they sell and the more people watch it, the larger our community will grow. If you want to support a great movie, a great cause, and (in my opinion) the answer to the obesity epidemic that’s showing no signs of reversing, pick up a copy of “In Search of the Perfect Human Diet.” Copies begin shipping tomorrow.

Let’s see how big we can make this! It’s important, guys, real important!

TAGS:  reviews

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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154 thoughts on “In Search of the Perfect Human Diet”

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    1. The paleo lifestyle seems to be an internal contradiction. Why do paleo advocates assume that evolution of the human dietary track ceased in the paleolithic age? Does it not stand to reason that those humans that could best process grains had greater survival rates and produced more offspring, up until the point that grains became perfectly digestible and even necessary? Using the same logic, the ability to digest meat and vegetables would have become less important as it increasingly made up a smaller portion of our diet, meaning the meat and vegetable digesting gene would not proliferate after the advent of agriculture.

      Nutrition is one point, fuel is another. If humans evolved to operate with high carb loads, removing such staples from one’s diet would seriously hamper his or her ability to function. In my own personal experience, I’ve noticed that 6 eggs hardly provides me the energy needed for a day of complex thinking and nutrition delivery to my recovering, trained muscles that a bowl of oatmeal does.

      I am by no means certain that my train of thought is going in the right direction, and would be happy if someone would derail it. Why did this movement stop at the paleolithic time period, and not the neolithic, or even somewhere in the bronze age? It seems quite arbitrary to me.

      1. Hi Jimmy,

        I think you’re right to approach this with a degree of scepticism. It’s the only way to really understand something new.

        There’s no assumption that dietary evolution has stopped. The reasoning is that the intervening 10,000 years may seem like a long time but is only a genetic blink of an eye; far too short to allow widespread adaptation. It’s only around 400 generations, if you think about it. I’ve no doubt we’re “better” at eating grains than we were 10,000 years ago but that doesn’t mean that we’re good at it.
        I suppose you could also argue that improved medical knowledge and technology has helped to offset some of the selection pressures brought about by detrimental dietary changes.

        Regarding your point on fuel, I think the assumption we evolved to operate on high carb loads is exactly what’s being questioned by the paleo/primal approach to diet.
        Maybe try turning that question on it’s head: is it possible that if we evolved over millions of years to eat fatty meat and vegetables, removing such staples would seriously hamper our ability to function.
        Ultimately each person is different and the only way to really know is to try it yourself. Sure, 6 eggs instead of oatmeal may not satisfy you at first but perhaps that’s because your body is used to carbs and needs time to adjust.

        Have a read through the guides here, I’ve rarely come across a question that hasn’t been weighed and answered by Mark at some point.

        1. Hi David,

          Thanks for you answer; the community here is engaged and supportive.

          Human population was estimated to be 1 million 10,000 years ago; today its 7 billion. In other words, 99% of homo sapiens that have ever lived, did so eating grains. If we are going to use the relative time argument to talk about evolution, lets count total human days. In this regard, the football field analogy doesn’t hold water.

          I agree that each individual is different and must experiment; some people are completely lactose intolerant, some allergic to gluten, and some break out in hives when they eat peppers, eggs, or mushrooms (that’s right, foods considered paleo staples). The human dietary spectrum is wide ranging and cannot be reduced to a single maxim, such as WWGD (What Would Grok Do?). Such unequivocal positions are best left to religious fundamentalists.

          I think a far more balanced approach would be to posit that dietary optimization may resemble a bell curve, with the mean being the paleo diet and the standard deviation being unknown.

          The paleo lifestyle is a scientifically backed movement, but sometimes these sites tend to be dogmatic or products of group think. I think the mainstream would be much more receptive if paleo advocates acknowledged the limitation of nutritional research. Also, using evolution as a basis for the paleo diet only invites an onslaught of skeptical questioning, which no one on this site, including to my knowledge even Mark Sisson has really answered. Giving 10,0000, 400 generations, or 5 yards as an indication of the relative recentness of agriculture means nothing.

          Also, I would love for mark to step in, but he probably won’t. He has to realize this contradiction, but relies on Grok as his marketing tool. Takeaway his mascot and he is the South Beach diet.

      2. Two points:
        1. Although it does make sense that those who are better at digesting grains would potentially thrive in a grain based society, the agricultural age’s relative period of time on the human timeline is very small, so it is unlikely that any substantive changes would have had time to occur. Evolution is a very slow process.
        2. Remember that natural selection requires a scarcity of resources for evolutionary variations to manifest and become prevalent. When there are sufficient resources for everyone to reach the age of reproduction, natural selection breaks down, and by extension evolutionary change.

        1. This comment is more for Jimmy but there wasn’t a reply link under his comment, for some reason.

          In any case, Jimmy said:
          “In other words, 99% of homo sapiens that have ever lived, did so eating grains. If we are going to use the relative time argument to talk about evolution, lets count total human days. In this regard, the football field analogy doesn’t hold water.”

          Please don’t take offense, but that comment just shows that you don’t yet have a good grasp of evolution. The important piece is that the time leading up to the agricultural revolution was what primarily formed our genetic nutrition requirements. The 333 generations since simply have not been long enough to cause significant adaptations to the human genotype. Time is the critical factor here, not the number of humans before or after the agriculture revolution.

          It’s quite possible, and I believe very likely, that the 7 or so billion of us are eating mostly the wrong things because we discovered grains/agriculture and grains are highly storable from one season to the next. This helps to mitigate random crop failures.

          This blog post is going out on my newsletter and I’ll purchase the movie and review it, as well.

      3. I don’t claim to be an expert by any means but I can say the paleo/primal has worked for me. I lost 21 pounds the first 30 days, I am eating far less and fuller longer, my cholesterol is now at 144 and my BP is 100 over 60. Did I mention I am 53? In addition, my seasonal allergies, which are in their height right now, are not bothering me for the first time in my adult life. Generally, I feel much better and sharper than I did before the paleo/primal. Do I miss pasta or bread? Only because of the good memories. I wouldn’t trade my newly acquired health to go back.

        1. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not denying the results of paleo; I’m just trying to justify it intellectually. Also, I can give you numerous examples of 53 year old’s that have achieved similar feats using other means.

          In response to Scott’s comment, I have two follow up questions:
          1. You say that grain based societies are relatively a new phenomenon. True, but 10,000 years is a lot of time for the grain gene to overtake the meat gene. This is a very small step; we’re not talking about developing bipedal locomotion here. Is there a reason you think 10,000 years is not enough time for such a minor change?
          2.Are you claiming there was not a scarcity of resources post-paleo? It seems to that the countless number of famines, salting of earth following wars, floods, etc. would have favored those that could most efficiently process the little grain that was available. Abundance of resources did not occur until long after the advent of agriculture. Think Stalinist Russia.

        2. Jimmz:
          Some good points, and I wont pretend to be an expert on human evolution, but I think your analysis is a tad oversimplified.
          1. In the context of human evolution, I’d say 10,000 years is actually pretty short. And I doubt that there is just a “meat gene” and a “wheat gene,” that would be like flipping a switch. We are essentially talking about the nuances of our digestive system, which is exceedingly complex. We may be more wheat-tolerant now than 10,000 years ago, but I highly doubt it is now preferred.
          2. A good point, but I don’t think it would manifest the way you describe it. Although some competition would likely occur due to famines, the survival would be more likely due to financial status and generalized resourcefulness, and less due to ones ability to digest wheat. The issue here would be ability to get food at all.

        3. Andre,

          Your comment is condescending and doesn’t address my point. Evolution is a product of genetic mutations and natural selection. The more offspring that is produced, the greater the frequency of genetic mutations and diversity of genes. More genetic diversity opens the door for advantageous attributes, such as optimal grain digestion, to appear in the gene pool. Once such attributes are established, they can be spread more rapidly as the growth of human population exponentially increases.

        4. Jimmy:

          Sorry, I was hoping you wouldn’t take offense. But you still don’t understand that the you are focusing on the wrong area. It’s the number of generations/time that is the key factor, not the number of human-years, which is what you are focusing on.

          Small genetic variations accumulation over time in the same lineage (genotype). An explosion of genetic variation spread across several billion phenotypes (i.e. individual expressions of the gene) isn’t the same thing because it is spread across multiple lineages. Time hasn’t yet had a chance to play a role. There is no accumulation of small variations yet.

          Your misunderstanding of this is what has you say something like “10,000 years is a lot of time for the grain gene to overtake the meat gene.” No, it’s not a lot of time, it’s only 333 generations of humans.

          Scott, David and I have attempted to explain it to you. I’ll let someone else give it a try now.

        5. By losing 21 pounds in 30 days you likely lost a good deal of muscle tissue and water, not fat. It’s impossible for the body to metabolize fat at that rate…most scientists recommend a rate of one to two pounds a week of fat loss to preserve as much precious muscle tissue as possible …it’s the engine of your metabolism, hard won and easily lost.

        6. This seems to be very similar to my findings as well.

          I found the documentary on Netflix, while I was browsing and decided to view it on a lark.

          Afterwards, I thought, “why the hell not?” and tried it.

          The week before, the doctor at the VA Hospital said that I weighed 298 lbs and was pre-diabetic.

          4 weeks later, I’m down 25 lbs. without exercise.

          Ketosis works. Those who doubt can continue doubting. Those who have practiced it and gotten results will continue to reap the benefits.

        7. This is for Scott. I realize this is an old post! You have some good points.

          The first thing I’d like to address is the 10,000 year business. There’s good evidence that people at Ohalo II were eating wild grains as a staple 23,000 years ago, and that people in Mozambique were eating hefty quantities of grass seeds 100,000 years ago. There’s a rule of thumb that it takes 400 generations of 20 years each to fix a gene in a whole population, so 8,000 years would do the trick in a smallish group. Other populations may well have been guzzling wild grains in other parts of the world.

          The next is that there’s no need to take the either/or stance. Early agriculturalists continued to hunt, fish, and fowl. As their populations grew and forced them into sedentism, and they over-exploited the game near home, their meat intake decreased. However, in many farming societies, grain wastes and chaff were fed to small ruminants or pigs, ensuring at least some meat. The stalled ox spoken of in the Christian bible is an old record of CAFO activity. It’s clear from archaeological evidence from bones and teeth that, as meat intake decreased, human health plummeted. But we’re a resilient species thanks to our omnivorous gut! The most susceptible died, and those with the lowest needs for animal protein, and the luckiest genome for, say, converting essential amino acids to nonessential, or betacarotenes into vitamin A, survived, thrived, and bred. While grain-eaters thrived, their adaptation was a plug-in to their old software, if I may put that way. Starch-eating was not a new mutation; hominins have been eating tubers and other starchy foods for probably a couple of million years.

          Human evolution was patchy and mosaic-like. There was no single central master plan. We’re as opportunistic as cockroaches and pigs, able as a species, if not as individuals, to get something that some of us can eat, no matter where we are. Then there’s interbreeding to consider; some groups of sapiens interbred with Neanderthals, while others rolled around with Denisovans. There’s a block of mystery DNA that may represent interbreeding with Homo erectus. So humans are not an homogenous monophyletic species; we’re almost certainly a polyphyletic hodgepode of the hybrid offspring of ring species, further mixed up by dispersion to geographically distant habitats, followed thousands of years later by contact with exotic groups and new gene flow.

          Evolution can be very rapid when assisted by culture – the human characteristic par excellence. We have intelligence and a natural turn for technology, as well as superb hands for manipulating materials. We experiment continuously. We develop cultural norms that drive us to eat this instead of that, although they may be nutritionally very similar, or to abstain from perfectly good foods in favour of something less nutritious and harder to source. If the group is small with low gene flow, I think an allele shift could be completed in a lot less than 8,000 years.

          The point of the Primal diet is that industrial foods aren’t good for us. Grains are persona non grata because they deliver an enormous wallop of starch, which spikes insulin and is easily stored as body fat. Modern grains – those bred in and since the 1960s Green Revolution – pack far more starch than their precursors. Their seeds are bigger, and the starch content is much higher. Depending on your personal genome (how many copies of the gene salivary amylase 1 you have), you may well be able to incorporate grains into your diet – but you still have your ancestral ability to digest meat and fat.

      4. I don’t think that the paleo diet assumes that food evolution ended during that era. I do think that they are more advocating for the idea that we were meant to eat food, in it’s natural state, that has not been chemically or genetically modified. The evidence for this stands with the proliferation of diseases like diabetes and syndrome-x in modern society. These were diseases that did not plague earlier man, and their advent can be traced quite clearly to the rise of grain consumption. Perhaps grain does provide the body with ample “fuel”, but this fuel is often not burned with our modern lifestyles as we become more and more sedentary. This means that the fuel is stored as fat. As well, if you compare the equivalent fuel in a fruit/vegetable, they provide more nutrition (vitamins, minerals) per gram than grains. The paleo diet does advocate that people with very active lifestyles may benefit from a more carb heavy diet, but this comes in the form of starchy fruits and vegetables. They are better digested by the body, and provide more nutrition.

        1. What do you mean these diseases can clearly be traced to the advent of grain consumption? Were scientists doing diabetes studies 10,000 years ago when grain consumption began? These syndromes could be caused by any host of modern factors.

          Also, do we not have a nutrition saturation point? How much potassium can the body actually absorb? Vegetables offer more nutritional punch, but grains are the fuel of movement and brain activity, not to mention more economical and ecologically sustainable.

        2. Scott, also good points. Can we continue?
          1)Yes my analysis is simple, but this is a blog and is not appearing in a peer reviewed journal. Also, the paleo argument is very simplified itself in regards to its evolutionary basis, so I am just looking for a jumping off point.
          2)I wasn’t saying there is an on/off switch. Just saying some people can process grains better than others, just like some people can’t handle meat.
          3)You still haven’t provided a reason why 10,000 years is too short for such a minor change.
          3)Financial status did probably play a role. But we are talking about the masses here. For the majority of history, the majority of people have been peasants. A kid that can’t eek out all of the nutritional value of grains in a time of short supply will not reach child bearing age.

        3. Absolutely,
          1. I totally agree, in my mind paleo is mostly a starting ground for self experimentation.
          2. And I also agree that there is definitely a lot of variability, but I think it mostly deals with levels of carb tolerance. I have not heard/read much about people not being able to handle meat, so I’d be interested to find out more about that and the mechanism underlying it.
          3. Mostly this is a numbers game. I seem to recall that the modern human emerged (so to speak) about 200,000 years ago. And homo erectus was ~2.5mil. When viewed on that scale, and coupled with my theory that natural selection is heavily curtailed with the inception of the agricultural era, those 10,000 years don’t seem all that prominent, especially for enacting a change that I consider substantial.
          3. I would emphasize again that the real competition would be getting the food, and not the ability to better utilize the food. In terms of relatively small genetic variation, the difference between the person who digests grain very well as compared with the standard person would probably not be the difference between life and death.
          As a side note, if we consider what metabolic effects would be most beneficial in times of famine, its probably not ability to survive on minimal food, but rather the propensity to gain fat prior to the time of famine. When viewed in that framework, this would seem to suggest that even if we have an evolutionary trend towards eating more grains, that those would serve to fatten us.

        4. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not denying the results of paleo; I’m just trying to justify it intellectually.”

          Intellectually doesn’t matter. What works works and what doesn’t work doesn’t work, as determined by nature, not mans intellect.

          If Western scientists finally catch up one day and are able to explain using intellect how nature works, well that’s great, but it’s not required.

      5. if you want to justify it. it can be done without even considering evolution. check out great pieces my mat lalonde in which he discusses why each of the things we avoid should be avoided due to detramental damage to our systems from the. remember grains and beans are both SEEDS the second you eat and digest them the plant can no longer extend its family tree so they are going to fight your system to prevent you from continuing to do so is the basic gist of it.

      6. Jimmy, et al….

        Speaking here as someone who is seeing health benefits from low carb/low toxin/primal/paleo whatever-you-want-to-call-what-we-are-doing diet.

        Speaking here as someone who honors her ancestors, regardless.

        Also speaking as a retired research scientist and a historian of science – who, while certainly no expert on evolution, has more than a passing familiarity with the theory and its various and changing hypotheses. Study the history of state endorsed evolutionary theory in Russia if you want to get a glimpse into what fad and dogma exist in this domain.

        As I have previously stated on another article here, its not necessary to embrace the explanation for – or interpretation of – results in order for those results to be valid. Even in the most rigorously controlled scientific research, the hypothesis/rationale for the study and/or interpretation of results of the study can and do change – even while the results themselves stand the test of replication.

        The theory of evolution is not static nor has it become fixed as a law. Scientists learn more all the time about evolution – which encompasses much more than Darwin, natural selection, and survival of the fittest. What is deemed most “fit” and is “selected for” does change according to circumstances. And, can change more rapidly than sometimes assumed.

        Take for example the Russian Fox Study that calls into question the hypothesis of how dogs evolved from wolves – most specifically with regard to the time period for such a transformation to occur – can happen in a few generations. This study also provides physiological data on how domestication alters the basic metabolic physiology in only a few generations.

        Likewise, studies of humans show how anatomy and physiology adapt to environmental pressure on an ongoing basis. The highly developed livers of the fat based diet consuming Inuit people for example. The Inuits descended from the Thule around 1000 AD.

        Geneticists study genes for modern diseases – like atherosclerosis – which trace back well past the mesolithic period. See the study of the Ice Man Otzi, for example. He was found to carry the genetic markers for atherosclerosis which came from his ancestors. That he had a diet including grain carbs may have interacted with that genetic predisposition – but the genes pre-dated the agriculture.

        Critical reasoning does not take away from any real results and benefits of eating a natural diet designed to maintain beneficial levels of insulin. Nor will it take away from living a lifestyle that reduces adrenal output to a healthy level – which also supports healthy insulin levels.

      7. If/when the moderated version of this comment gets posted, there will be included a hyperlink to the (below) mentioned Russian Fox Study.

        Jimmy, et al….

        Speaking here as someone who is seeing health benefits from low carb/low toxin/primal/paleo
        whatever-you-want-to-call-what-we-are-doing diet.

        Speaking here as someone who honors her ancestors, regardless.

        Also speaking as a retired research scientist and a historian of science – who, while certainly no expert on evolution, has more than a passing familiarity with the theory and its various and changing hypotheses. Study the history of state endorsed evolutionary theory in Russia if you want to get a glimpse into what fad and dogma exist in this domain.

        As I have previously stated on another article here, its not necessary to embrace the explanation for – or interpretation of – results in order for those results to be valid. Even in the most rigorously controlled scientific research, the hypothesis/rationale for the study and/or interpretation of results of the study can and do change – even while the results themselves stand the test of replication.

        The theory of evolution is not static nor has it become fixed as a law. Scientists learn more all the time about evolution – which encompasses much more than Darwin, natural selection, and survival of the fittest. What is deemed most “fit” and is “selected for” does change according to circumstances. And, can change more rapidly than sometimes assumed.

        Take for example the Russian Fox Study that calls into question the hypothesis of how dogs evolved from wolves – most specifically with regard to the time period for such a transformation to occur – can happen in a few generations. This study also provides physiological data on how domestication alters the basic metabolic physiology in only a few generations.

        Likewise, studies of humans show how anatomy and physiology adapt to environmental pressure on an ongoing basis. The highly developed livers of the fat based diet consuming Inuit people for example. The Inuits descended from the Thule around 1000 AD.

        Geneticists study genes for modern diseases – like atherosclerosis – which trace back well past the mesolithic period. See the study of the Ice Man Otzi, for example. He was found to carry the genetic markers for atherosclerosis which came from his ancestors. That he had a diet including grain carbs may have interacted with that genetic predisposition – but the genes pre-dated the agriculture.

        Critical reasoning does not take away from any real results and benefits of eating a natural diet designed to maintain beneficial levels of insulin. Nor will it take away from living a lifestyle that reduces adrenal output to a healthy level – which also supports healthy insulin levels.

      8. Well, you could be like me and not believe in evolution. I believe in creation, a fairly young earth (a few thousand years old) and limited adaption. However, that takes nothing away from the benefits of living a primal/paleo lifestyle. Plenty of hunter gather types have walked on this planet during the last 2,000 years and most of those people were arguably the leanest & healthiest. Bottom line… it works.

        I love eating 1 – 1.5 lbs. of grass fed beef per day while still losing weight and improving my other “health numbers” all at the same time.

        1. I too believe in a young earth, and it’s nice to see someone else here the same.

        2. Do you believe in a young Earth just because you believe it or because you have evidence to back that position up…and the Bible doesn’t count. The Bible can’t even agree with itself on practically anything.

          Personally I believe in midiclorians – not because I have any evidence, just because I believe in them.

          You know that we humans have evolved to be fairly clever folks – we can measure how fast icebergs move, estimate the age of a tree, fairly accurately date that age of a rock formation, oh yeah and we can build powerful deep space telescopes and measure the rate at which the universe is expanding. ‘A few thousand years’ – sigh.

      9. The 10,000 year figure since the beginning of the use of grains is only true if you are directly descended from Semitic people of the Middle East.

        If you are Asian or Native American or African or Northern European your ancestors may have only been using grains for a few thousand or even just a few hundred years.

        For example, my wife is Filipino. Until the Spanish took over the Philippines just 500 years ago or so the natives were basically living a primitive lifestyle not much different than the most primitive natives of New Guinea today.

        This is an important point. Most of us don’t have the 10,000 year exposure to grains that is often bandied about; not even close.

      10. Jimmy,

        I’m going to repeat what I wrote in another thread to you, since you are repeating this same fallacious argument. It seems you have a basic misunderstanding of how evolution via natural selection operates.
        The Paleo argument per Cordain/Wolf/Sisson, etc. is not based on *relative* time. Rather it is based on adaptations over generations (which, again, is not a relative concept). So, it’s not the number of people per se that is important but the number of adaptations. I.e., those 99% you speak of–the billions living post-agricultural revolution–are a large end product from a *relatively* small number who existed over a large number of prior generations. Which is to say, 99+% of adaptions occurred before agriculture. Ergo, you are naturally selected to eat Paleo.

        Or, to put it in other words, we are not the product of those billions you speak of, but instead those billions (including us) are the product of those earlier millions who lived prior to agriculture.

        Mr. Peripatetic

  1. Well, everyone could just go read “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration”, but I have a feeling a modern documentary would be a bit more accessible to your average Joe/Jane!

    Look forward to checking it out.

  2. Thanks for sharing this information. How humans have evolved with regard to diet is an interesting subject. Sounds like the documentary does a nice job covering this topic. I will look for it on Netflix in the near future.

  3. Just ordered, and looking forward to getting my copy – it should be fascinating!

  4. Great!

    Just ordered a copy for my husband. He is open to the primal lifestyle and has been following/supporting my own recent explorations. He LOVES watching documentaries. This DVD will be the perfect way to give him the big picture as well as the smaller details.

    Will likely be ordering more copies in the near future.

  5. I’m thinking perhaps picking up a few extra copies to donate to local libraries might not be a bad idea. Plus, they’d be tax deductible.

  6. Sounds interesting. I’ll order a copy when I can afford it. I’m curious to read about what people think about it!

  7. ordered. I figured this would be a good tool for those that don’t want to listen to my outlandish meanderings on diet.

  8. I was not aware of this documentary, thank you! I will be ordering a copy as soon as I can, and I look forward to sharing it with others.

  9. This is definitely a movie the world needs.

    I am looking forward to see what his conclusions are. Hopefully he doesn’t miss the mark by too much.

    Although it sounds like from your synopsis that he’s certainly on the right track, and that will get more people thinking about this problem, which is what we desperately need.

  10. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release, but after reading this I’m dying to watch it RIGHT NOW. Hoping lots of others feel the same to boost it into the public’s awareness!

  11. Just ordered the DVD, and will be hosting a viewing with several like-minded friends–each person to bring a new paleo-oriented snack to share. Thanks for the heads up.

    1. That is a fun idea! I’m going to plan the same sort of event! I also ordered my copy.

      1. Yes, that’s sorta what I had in mind for ordering more copies.

        I want to talk to my local primal buddy to see if he wants to co-host a viewing before ordering my own copy (already got one for my husband – he’s not yet retired and resides in our home in the South when I am in MI).

        I’m hoping that my local primal buddy will want to order several copies at that time for gifts for family, friends, and co-workers. I’m planning even later orders for gifts for my children.

  12. Any chance they’ll get it on NetFlix and/or Amazon Prime? That is the way to hit a mass audience these days.

    1. That would be great if it happened! I order a lot via Amazon Prime.

  13. I’m hosting a primal party and inviting everybody when my copy arrives.

  14. I’m very glad to see a documentary such as this was made. Watching movies such as these really seems to get a lot of people motivated to do something about their health. I’ll be ordering this and sharing it with as many people as possible. 🙂

  15. Sounds great! I’ve been looking for a better way to get this type of info to family/friends who are confused by why we chose to eat this way. However, I hope it isn’t too heavy in supporting the idea of a paleolithic diet with evolutionary information. For creationists, the argument may need to look different. Excited to see it!

    1. Good points. As convinced as we may be that eating/living primal is the way to go, its a good idea to keep things in perspective.

      Evolution is still just a theory – not a law – and its not a one size fits all theory anyway. Evolutionary theory itself is still evolving and aspects are being questioned by evolutionary scientists routinely.

      Anthropologists and archeologists are also divided on exactly what constituted a “paleo” diet/lifestyle. There is variability based on the paleo period and location in question – with regard to matters like the use of fire, hunting tools, local resources, climate and so on.

      But, in the big picture I think that there is agreement that diet was diverse and included animal proteins whenever available. Diet did not include cultivated grains or legumes. So forth and so on like that.

      I tell you what I’m waiting for – for someone in the paleo/ancestral community to explain the Venus of Willendorf – another one of those items with little consensus and interesting hypotheses. Why would such an image exist in the paleo world? What does it say about the genetics of obesity. Like that.

      Generally, the Venus is no longer considered to be pregnant – or young – but to represent an older, obese female. The phenotype/body fat distribution is typical of a modern, full breasted, apple type, perimenopausal (or later) woman.

      I have my own hypothesis about the Venus, but I want to keep it to myself for awhile.

      1. This comment shows a singular lack of appreciation for the word “theory” as it applies in science.

        Why wouldn’t paleo folks have a representation of obesity? It’s not impossible to feed a woman to enormous proportions on paleo-era foods. There are several African societies still practicing fertility rites that involve women drinking raw milk and blood by the gallon in preparation for marriage to gain astounding amounts of weight, and for these folks that’s absolutely desirable.

        Why keep your hypothesis to yourself?

        1. How does my comment show “a lack of appreciation” for the word “theory” as it applies in science? Care to explain?

          As a retired research scientist – and historian of science – I feel that I appreciate the merits of each step/stage of the scientific method. I also understand the boundaries and limits of each step/stage and of the method itself.

          Your points about the Venus are well taken – and are some of the considerations that I give in my own thinking on the subject.

          I will often talk about a hypothesis under development in true extrovert fashion and likewise I sometimes choose to refrain in true introvert fashion – especially if I have an eye on a working hypothesis. In this case, I am still mulling things over and see no reason to talk about it and a few reasons not to. In the vernacular, that’s just how this girl rolls….

  16. Sounds perfect for sharing with “newbies!” I’m always looking for resources like this to share with clients who are in the beginning stages of examining their diets.

  17. Thanks for the review. I ordered the movie last week after Jimmy Moore posted it on Fat Head Facebook. I’ve been counting down the days till it is shipped, and thanks to your review I am even more excited.

  18. I read it as produced by “Hunter S. Thompson Media” — I could get behind that diet, too.

  19. Sounds interesting! Just ordered my copy and looking forward to watching it … and sharing it with a whole bunch of people!

  20. I don’t know if this is a popular opinion or not, but I would venture to guess that the obesity epidemic is fixing to turn around. From talking to people about nutrition, most people in my parents generation are nutritionally idiots. My Dad is probably the worst dieter I have ever seen and then remarks about how hard it is to lose weight. By contrast, I see a lot of people in my generation that are very health conscious. Granted many go vegan which has its obvious drawbacks, but at least they stay away from the worst of the junk food.

    1. This is my first post. I am one of those people he is trying to be health conscious. I am not on any diet but I am staying away from processed foods. I am in search of a diet plan and was wondering if you could elaborate on the obvious drawbacks of vegan diet. Thank you

  21. I just placed my order, thanks for letting us know about this fantastic movie, I cannot wait to show all my family and friends!

  22. “a catastrophic health event strikes, early in life when everything is supposed to be all peaches and roses; bouncing from diet to diet in his search for absolute dietary truth (complete with forays into veganism and raw foodism), never really finding it; discovering a promising lead on yet another dietary path; following that one, bumping into Paleolithic anthropology, and everything just clicking.”

    …are you stalking me? Haha but for real this is spot on!!!

  23. I was surprised to see some creationist fairy tale comments above. Folks who say that “evolution is just a theory” are just showing their ignorance. If they knew anything about science, they would understand that a theory is not “just” something; a theory is the ultimate goal of science, explaining a very large body of facts.

    1. Actually, if you read it, it’s an appropriate analysis, and not anti science or evolution.

      On the other hand, one of the latest reviews for Mark’s Paleo cookbook is a ‘1 star’ as the reviewer doesn’t believe in evolution. I ripped her and a supporter a new one.

      Besides, don’t the fundies think that man and dinosaurs coexisted. Just need some grassfed bronchioasaurus!

    2. Guys, I think y’all would be shocked to know how many people of faith follow MDA and are thriving on a primal lifestyle. The differences between creationism and evolutionism are many, and too complex to debate in this forum. Rather than alienating a large segment of the population with divisive comments, how about focusing on what we share…a desire to spread the positive message of good health!

      1. Thanks, Molly! Whether we believe we evolved to eat a certain way, or that God created our bodies to benefit from certain foods, this is a fantastic, supportive place to learn and share.

    3. Jim, as that quoted statement was mine please allow me to clarify.

      If you believe that what I was saying was “creationist fairytales” then you may have misread my comments. I am NOT a creationist. I am NOT a Christian. I AM an agnostic. I AM a retired research scientist.

      And, the theory of evolution IS literally just that. Nothing more, nothing less.

      The scientific method moves in steps/stages – with hypothesis preceding theory, theory preceding law. Evolution has not completed the steps required to become a law. Plain and simple.

      Don’t take my word for it. You can check these facts for themselves.

  24. I’d like to order this, but when the shipping to Australia is almost as much as the film, i can’t justify buying it. Hopefully i will be able to purchase it in a downloadable format soon!

    1. Ditto for shipping to Canada. 🙁 Wonder if there’s a way to get them to offer a non-priority international option.

  25. Going to get two copies. One for me. And, one for my nutrition professor. She really needs it.

  26. This sounds brilliant and would save me soooo much breath in having to repeat “what diet I’m doing” over and over to people!

    Only thing is its gonna cost me $41.90 with shipping to UK! Does anyone know if this is/will ever be available online where I’d happily buy it?!

    H x

    1. I’ve just emailed them asking if they will give “outside US” customers a First Class USPS International (vs. Priority USPS International only) option.

      I’ll let you know if they reply.

    2. I ordered mine regardless but a downloadable format would be the answer but I guess that would be fairly big and my internet connection not good enough! Making it available through might solve the problem!

    3. Also, what region will it be? As far as I’m aware America is region 1? Europe is region 2, and I don’t wanna fork out on a region free DVD player for one movie! 🙂

  27. Okay, the truth is…is that I am a lurker, but that is because I stumbled on this site looking for recipes while on my Atkins diet (I have lost 8 pounds in just over a month), so I am open to paleo/primal eating. Learning more about fat and slowly making other changes.

    However, and this has been nagging me for quite some time. If the cultivation of grains allowed people to make more permanent settlements and increase their numbers so that we are where we are at today…how are all 7 billion people in the world going to live on grass-fed beef and chickens? I can’t help but think about the political aspects of ancestral eating.

    Is this also something that is addressed in the film?

    1. They will be unable to. We know that if everyone were to go grass-fed, whole foods, that we could not support such a population without major relocation of whole regions, unless we change the way we do agriculture. There is a whole lot that needs to be addressed, and most are unwilling to give up the “security” of the status quo.

      If you would like, this would be better discussed on the forums.

      1. There’s a huge amount of land currently used for agriculture, which could be used for raising animals. This would increase the animal supply slightly, but not enough for 7b people. Individuals/families/communities would also need to use their gardens to grow some of their own produce. That just leaves the uncomfortable fact that the developing world needs to stop reproducing at such a fast rate.

  28. Just ordered – so excited! Now when Farmageddon comes out in April, I’ll really have a collection going!

  29. Hope CJ finds the perfect human diet. It’s always great to hear from experts. I’m glad he gave them the respect they deserve.

    However,considering modern sources of food are hard to compare to what was available in the Paleolithic Era, even the most diligent and astute Paleo/Primal followers are far from eating from what was actually eaten. Don’t get me wrong, you still far, far better off than average.

    But he faces even more challenges than that.

    With new genetic evidence, the term “human” becomes questionable, and so the question will arise, what diet is best suited for which type of human?

    Neanderthals were purley carnivorous, and some humans share genes with these carnivores. Is it possible that some humans with Neanderthal DNA will live optimally as carnivores?

    Lastly, the human diet is probably only half the equation in creating optimal health. Considering that activity, in all its various forms, is a huge factor in “human” metabolism, and considering the role epigenetics play in how our genes determine everything about us, it’s easy to see how things might not be as simple as a “human diet”.

    I’m not trying to dimish his work. I’m sure it is great. But I’ve learned that by always asking critical questions, we can keep our perspective open to a big picture that will hopefully lead us to even better answers.

    Can’t wait to see it.

    Matthew Caton

    1. You know, I tend to agree with you – about the big picture and about not having all the facts as yet – and most especially about the importance of critical reasoning.


  30. I remember seeing the trailer years back and wanting very badly for the movie to be made and made right. So glad to see it finally get released. Hopefully the special edition is sitting in my mailbox when I get back to Tokyo (from South America) in a month 😀

  31. Thanks for the rec, Mark. I’m pretty stoked to see this movie. After I view it, I will probably be ordering a second copy and sending it to my cousin and his wife. I hope it can affect them the same way this website and others have me.

  32. I am just beginning to learn about primal/paleo eating. I can’t wait to watch this video!

  33. Sweet…. I bet Food Inc. started out the same way, which is what started my search for the paleo diet in the first place.

  34. No subtitle (closed caption)? That is a shame. I am sure there are a lot of hard of hearing people including me would like to watch it.

  35. Ordered! Can’t wait to get it, hope it doesn’t take too long to get to Australia 🙂

  36. Ordered. Not necessarily because I need to be convinced, but because this film with its message needs to be supported. The food industry and the pharmaceutical industry has duped the masses. It’s time the truth was told and without our support this stuff doesn’t get out.

  37. I called all my Primal friends to tell them about this movie.
    We are planning on having a screening night and each inviting someone we love or care about who could benefit from this information.
    I am planning to make delicious eats to serve…just to drive the point home!

  38. Just a thought–but anyone who has a Netflix account should call and request they add it to their library. They’re really great about taking suggestions and looking for esoteric titles that are hard to find through major, brick-and-mortar rental outlets!

  39. Interesting. I’m gonna wait to see what kind of reviews is gets before I decide whether to pick it up or not, but definitely sounds like it’s worth checking out from this post.

  40. No, no, no! The Russian Fox Study came to exactly the wrong conclusion about the foxes evolving rapidly into obedient creatures that serve humans.

    My trusted pet, Charles Dogwin, has explained to me that foxes and dogs did not evolve their docility in response to selection by humans. On the contrary, humans evolved because the foxes and dogs selected for tame humans that obediently served the animals.

    When humans are not around, dogs quit acting and they revert to their innate very aggressive behaviot.

    My dog, Charles Dogwin, is the only dog ever to break the code of silence and to tell their secret to a human.

    However, there is one huge clue right in front of us. Who are the most blindly obedient, non-questioning, humans among us? The answer is clear:

    The most blindly obedient humans who unquestioningly follow their masters’ orders are … the viewers of FOX News!

    1. Hehehehe!!!!! That’s great!

      You won’t get an argument from me!!! At least on that notion :-).

      Btw, again speaking as the person who you felt was making ignorant “creationist fairytale” statements – I’d like to clarify.

      Reflecting on my probably poor choice of words i.e. “just a theory”, I realize that is essentially the argument made by creationists. That argument is sometimes offensive. I wasn’t thinking in those terms or I would have presented my thoughts in a different way.

      That said, it is true that theory is not the ultimate stage of the scientific method. Law is that stage.

      Many lay people lack clarity on the distinctions between the various stages and steps of the method – not understanding how a working hypothesis differs from a general hypothesis (or rationale) – they will use the term “theory” when what they are actually referring to is a hypothesis – and they confuse a well articulated and maturing theory for an established law – such as the law of gravity.

      A big however – there is a convention – although not universally accepted – to consider some theories in the sciences other than physics and chemistry as the equivalent to laws.

      If you talk to physicists or chemists – or watch the “Big Bang Theory” TV show – you’ll discover that physical scientists often consider themselves to be the only true scientists. They tend to regard the softer, biological sciences as less rigorous. And, let’s not even talk about their views on the social sciences, including anthropology. Let’s just say – “sloppy thinkers” and “not real science” is not infrequently heard.

      Consequently, while its PC in larger scientific circles to acquiesce to the convention of allowing concessions in the case of certain “soft science” theories that may never meet the rigors of scientific law – behind closed doors these same theories are never regarded as true laws.

      So, I guess that means that physical scientists can be as judgmental as creationists can be. Oh, well.

  41. No one uses “DVD’s” anymore! Where’s the digital copies? Reach way more people this way, how hard is it to get on iTunes?

  42. Glad to see the reviews are good given that I was one of the people who donated. Just got an email that we may not get our DVDs until mid-March. Not sure if the regular versions will ship faster.

    1. @Paleolady. Please don’t take this the wrong way. I really appreciate your enthusiasm for the film. However, there is a problem in obtaining the film and then charging to show it to others in a theater. The US copyright laws specifically prohibit that use (that’s that FBI warning you see on the beginning of all home videos).

      CJ worked very hard for nearly a decade to get this to completion. He sank his life savings into making it. He is selling limited copies of the dvds for home use and is also trying to get it into general theatrical release by showing it at film festivals around the world. If a distributor found out that it had been shown at a theater, they might balk at picking it up.

      No problem at all having a few friends over to your house to watch, but any commercial use (even if it is to cover costs or at a loss) would be a problem. Hope you understand, and again, thrilled that you want this message to get out.

      1. Thanks Mark. I hadn’t realized showing it to a private group would be breaking any laws, but that does make sense. With regret, I have gone and cancelled the meet-up, and am hoping that we do get a chance to watch it in someone’s house (but not mine, because I’m sure the high pitch squeel of my DVD player will cause my meet-up group members to want to kill me).

        I certainly don’t want to put the film in jeopardy, though, and keep this message from getting out in the world!

  43. It doesn’t ship to other countries does it? I live in the Netherlands

  44. Ordered mine yesterday. I think it’s going to be a live saver for my CW boyfriend who’s looking to loose 20 lbs by going on a diet of rice and chicken for couple of months straight.

  45. Just ordered mine…I am a nutritionist and I plan on showing it during nutrition classes.

  46. I just ordered mine! I am a nutritionist and plan on showing it to my clients during nutrition classes.

  47. When dealing with “pale sceptics” I now tell them to forget about the whole “would a caveman have eat it” argument. I just advise them to make healthier choices, ie food that hasn’t been messed with….grass fed beef, organic meat, wild caught fish, vegetables and fruits. There’s nothing for them to argue with. I also thrown in the fact I played pro rugby and lived on high carb pasta/bread base diets and now having retired, at 37 hrs of age I’m doing ironman tri’s on a paleo diet and I’m fitter and healthier than ever!

  48. No digital version? REALLY?? I don’t want a DVD 🙁

    I will pay the DVD equivalent price for a digital copy. If they make this available on iTunes or in any other digital format then CJ will get my money. It’s 2012 for crying out loud. Digital should be standard.

  49. Ordered mine! I’m looking forward to it. I thought $16.95 for shipping to Canada was a bit “off the charts”. But… whatever.

  50. GREAT. Ordered this + shipping for $40 15 days ago and never arrived

  51. got my copy about 1 week ago, great movie, and it shows how imo the way to eat if want for our race(human race) to continue, is to follow the evolution eating plan. i hate the word diet

  52. I hope that this DVD because available online and on popular online stores like Amazon when that becomes possible. It’s an important message, that is not going to reach a lot of people at 42$ a pop. That’s how much it will cost for me to get it in Canada.

  53. 1 million to 7 billion in just 10,000 years is not evolution. It’s an infestation!

    What the heck caused it?

    1. Very good question!

      But this film would have you believe that, no, humans took a real downturn since eating grains etc., grains have done all sorts of bad things like shrink our brains… yet human population has exploded and it’s not looking like slowing down anytime soon.

  54. I am an agriculture teacher and was wondering if there was any way to view this video prior to purchasing it for a classroom? Have any teachers given feedback about their use of this video in their classrooms? i read a positive article about the video in BEEF Magazine and would like to consider incorporating it into my lessons.
    Thanks, Annette

  55. As a former archeologist and a Primal follower, all I can say it WOW! This is an amazing film!

  56. what ever happened to the idea of eating a complete balanced diet? With dairy, meats, fruits and veggies? Its been said a million times but eat in moderation. The problem I find today is that people are bored with this idea, they need something different. We evolve, I get that, its a natural thing. In my opinion there is no need to go backwards. We should just be more educated on what is REALLy healthy and not put the added pressure of trying to take out and put in things to our diets. Think back to grade school, teacher always said to follow the 4 food groups…whats wrong with that!!?? It may be boring, but if you exercise and eat balanced (meaning take from each group within moderation), have a healthy sex life and decrease the real killer which is STRESS!!!, then you too can lead a full and wonderful life. I just think society today wants that magic trick or that quick fix or that “miracle lifetsyle change” when in actuality, if you just live balanced, thats all you really need.

    1. Unfortunately I think the whole “everything in moderation” mindset is exactly what has put so many people in the predicament they’re in (obesity, serious health problems, smaller annoying health problems etc.).

      To put it simply – it’s incorrect to think that all things in moderation are okay. Not everything is good for you, not even in moderation!

      In the case of someone who wants to make a change, maybe they are obese and want to do something about it – again the “everything in moderation” mentality is not going to do any favours for them. If they want to make real changes, they need to take drastic, even extreme action.

      It is a problem that so many people are looking for a quick fix. They don’t want to spend the time investing in their own education which just opens the market for all the fad diets and seemingly simple & easy “do this, don’t do that” guidelines.

      Government dietary guidelines and even a lot of what the “health industry” would tell us is just plain wrong, it’s no wonder that people are confused after constantly being told incorrect and conflicting information.

      The only sure solution I see is for individuals to take an interest in their own wellbeing and start to learn and educate themselves.

  57. I found this post after looking around for a review of The Perfect Human Diet. Now I’ve just watched the film myself and wow… where to begin…

    First of all the way the film presents the theory of evolution as a proven scientific fact is an insult to logical thought and common sense. If anyone is wondering why I would say such a thing, it’s because the evolution theory is just that – it has not been proven. You’ve got to ask yourself how scientific it can be if scientists themselves can’t even agree on it?

    The other big thing to consider is that the film does not really mention health and longevity. Yes, obesity is a big problem in modern society, but trading body fat for other health problems is not a very good solution either. Just because someone is lean does not mean they will live a long and healthy life. The film seems to idolise tribal/primal humans who lived on a diet high in animal protein. But how many of them would have lived to 90, even 80 years of age? So just because people ate a certain diet for such a long period of time does not mean that we should as well.

    To top it off – near the end of the film Loren Cordain states that the fundamental tenant of the diet (presumably the Paleo diet) will not ever be shown to be wrong… it never ceases to amaze me when someone like him (a person who is involved in some aspect of science) makes such an unscientific statement like that. Someone who was truly scientific in their reasoning would say that they will update and revise their conclusions if and when new information is discovered. But no, stop your research everyone because Paleo is 100%, beyond a doubt the correct way for everyone to be eating.

    If people would focus on nutrition it would go a long way to solving their health problems. It’s as simple as that.

  58. Low fat whole foods plant based diets are superior for so many reasons. It is ridiculous to look at all of these nutty diets; Paleo, low carb, etc. Just eat well planned whole foods organic plant foods. The healthiest people I know, some in their 80s and 90s and still active, eat this way. Leave the meat and dairy alone. Read Drs McDoughall, Barnard, esselstyn…etc.

  59. I bought the movie on cable, watched it, then bought my own copy on line. I bought it to watch again, but also to give it to all my family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. I think every human should see this. Then if they still choose to continue to keep non-human foods that’s fine. At least they are educated on what a human diet should consist of.

  60. *mistake, not Dr. ornish – i meant to say Weil and also Taubes….mental slip…
    Taubes is overweight and an Atkins sympathizer – Atkins died rather young and fat.
    Dr. Ornish was not featured in the documentary.

  61. it is now streaming for free on Amazon Prime. this is in USA, I have no idea how works in other areas. likely also streaming for fee on Amazon if do not have Prime.

    1. Um… looking now… as of 6/30/13, it is NOT available on Netflix at all, neither streaming nor DVD.

  62. I watched the documentary last night and was anxious to read some reviews. I am a 66 yo physician prone to gain weight. Like Hunt, I have been searching for a healthy diet for weight control and have been frustrated by the conflicting recommendations by qualified scientists, distorted in many cases by private interests – people selling books, supplements, etc, etc. When I was 45 my 40 year old wife, also a physician, developed bilateral inflammatory breast cancer and was given little prognosis to live 5 years, and none for 10 years survival. After enduring her bone marrow transplant, bilateral mastectomies, and radiation therapy, she became totally obsessed with diet and supplements in an effort to stay alive and see our kids grow up. She was on a mission. We went from low fat to low carb and everything in-between. On the Dean Ornish low fat diet, avoiding even olive oil, and eating grains and vegetables, especially beans,e we both gained weight and our colesterol and triglycerides went up. Then she discovered the Sears low carb, low fat, higher protein diet and our cholesterol and triglycerides fell like a rock, as did our weight. I lost 35 pounds. I had stuck with this for decades while she experimented a bit more. To conclude her tragic story, she lived 18 years after her breast cancer diagnosis, and saw our kids grow up, dying not of breast cancer, but of radiation-induced lung cancer, a result of her treatment. We knew that there were great short and long-term risks from the high dose chemotherapy and radiation – but risks she was willing to take as an alternative to a young death – and would have done again even knowing the outcome. Her diet and supplements may well have helped her survival… we will never know. But, there is more.

    As I aged, the Sears approach seemed not to be working, and I gained weight with every decade, as some men tend to do. Taube explains the impact of decreasing testosterone on fat distribution in his books. Then there was the breast cancer risk that my daughter inherited from her mother and grandmother. When I heard about the book, China Study, and the documentary, Forks over Knives, I was open to it. For the last two years I adopted a vegan diet and was totally convinced by the argument. I enjoyed the change from meat, the opportunity to buy new cookbooks and explore new vegetables, such as heirloom beans, and I think I could have continued it indefinitely, although I did sometimes eat fish when travelling and there was nothing other than pasta as an alternative. My daughter was/is still totally into vegetables, but not completely vegan. After 2 years I stopped vegan eating just over a month ago because I was gaining weight – again. I found my way to Gary Taube’s books and am now again eating low carb. In just over a month I am down 16 pounds as of this AM, am less hungry, and I see no end in sight. I think the Sears version of low carb eating isn’t low enough as some men age. In my 66 years I have now lost substantial weight now 3 separate times switching to low carb eating – there will not be need for a 4th lesson.

    So about paleo. I liked the documentary and will show it to my obese son and his obese girlfriend tonight after I serve them a steak and greens dinner tonight. I understand evolution and buy most of the argument. However, I want to make several point.

    1. For the most part, early man did not have to deal with advanced aging. They died early mostly, as the film says, of accidents that were part of being a hunter gatherer, and of warfare. Ours has been a violent evolution. Evolution primarily selects for traits that take you through reproduction and child rearing, not necessarily through old age, although the argument for a survival advantage of elders, before they become a burden to the clan, is attractive. It could be that the paleo diet has selective advantages for the first 20-40 years, but could have negative long-term consequences since living to 80 or more was rarely possible in paleo times.

    2) Most diet theories don’t seem to acknowledge human variation. Sears does. Look around and we see endless variety in body size, height, features – including those of us who can eat with abandon and not gain weight and others for which body weight is a lifelong battle. Some of us are more insulin sensitive – more prone to store calories – a tremendous survival advantage in times of scarcity – and an equally large disadvantage in times of food excess. Those without that trait might not have survived times of privation, but are thriving now. There is data, for example, that Type O blood tracks with carbohydrate/insulin sensitivity. So our paleolithic evolution has not been monolithic exactly, although our similarities as a species far outnumber our differences. Some of the carb-loving bloggers here are no doubt less carb sensitive than those of us who have learned, relearned, and re-relearned that grains make us fat and unhealthy. There seems to be broad consensus that greens are healthy.

    3) It may be that many of us do have metabolism that leads to better health eating a low glycemic carb diet, but if so, that presents a huge global problem in terms of food security for the planet, environmental deterioration, and yes, even ethics in terms of animal cruelty where meat is mass produced. We need to use our evolved, meat-fed ingenuity to address how to provide good nutrition to the entire globe, not just the wealthy, with equity and justice. It may also be that as a species we may need to compromise optimal health because of the impact of animal-based diets on our fellow human beings. These are difficult questions to contemplate. It is hard enough to figure out what to eat to be healthy personally, and actually do it, much less take on the burden of the world’s nutrition and sustainability, but ultimately, we must.

    Thanks for reading this long blog.


    1. Ed- Excellent points. I too worry about how the paleo diet could be sustainable with our population. Food security is a serious issue that must be considered!

  63. This “documenatary” is poorly made, regardless of what health ideas underlie it, true or false. It has the cheesy feel of a late night infomercial, especially because of its melodramatic references, anecdotes, and presentation style. This makes its claims seem dubious, even if the science were in fact sound (and it might be). I’m not criticizing the science, I’m criticizing the show itself. It also commits the cardinal journalistic sin of cherry picking interviews and videos that only support an agenda. Regardless of whether we agree with that agenda, this lopsided approach leads only to group-think and is exactly the wrong way to teach critical thinking to the public.

  64. I have friends that have lost weight on the paleo diet.
    I have friends that have lost weight by eating a balanced diet and exercising.
    I have friends that have lost weight by going vegan.
    I have friends that have lost weight by juicing everything.
    I have friends that just eat whatever they want, exercise moderately and are healthy (by every medical measure).

    For every example of people living healthy paleo lifestyles, I can show you plenty of people living healthy via other means. And here’s the key: I don’t doubt them… it worked for them, their doctors confirm it, and that’s that.

    What’s with the obsession about creating a one-size-fits-all diet plan for humanity? That isn’t the purpose of nutritional or evolutionary science. Science has no agenda.

    Find what works for you. Again, I have nothing negative to say about the Paleo Diet. Let’s just not turn this into a cult (and if you read a lot of comments… it sure sounds like ppl want to push this as the Gospel).

    And I have no idea why any of the above should rile anyone up. So please take no offense.