Gremillion said the paleo diet is scientifically based and a healthy way to eat. But it is not somehow more natural than other diets.
"It's not unnatural for humans to eat cereals and grains, despite what some people may claim. Humans started agriculture because it was difficult to get enough food through hunting and gathering. Cereal grains provided a stable source of calories," she said.
Cereal grains can't be the sole basis of a diet, but they can be part of healthy meals, she said.
While the paleo diet does have a scientific basis, Gremillion said the raw food diet does not. This diet emphasizes getting most calories from uncooked, unprocessed foods.
"There is not really anything to be gained by eating only raw foods. We have been cooking food for hundreds of thousands of years," she said.
While cooking does remove some nutrients from foods, it also breaks down the compounds in foods to make some nutrients easier for our bodies to extract. In addition, it is much easier on our teeth and jaws than tearing and crushing hard and fibrous foods.
"Cooking caught on for a reason, and there is no real reason to give it up."
The concern for returning to a more natural state often involves not only what we eat, but how and where we grow foods and domesticate animals.
Much of Gremillion's own research involves the origins of agriculture in eastern North America, and how the early peoples in North America interacted with the environment.
"There's been a tendency in American culture to think the pristine wilderness is somehow totally separate from people. But it is a misconception that the landscapes we want to bring back were untouched by people," she said.
Humans have been managing the environment in North America from the moment they stepped foot on the continent, she said. One of the earliest ways Native Americans managed the environment was thr
|Contact: Kristen Gremillion|
Ohio State University