1

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Was dairy a part of our ancestral paleolithic diet?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 18, 2013 at 6:36 AM

The question is simple. Mammals have mammary glands, mammary glands produce milk. Early humans ate animals so they must have consumed the mammary glands. From my rudimentary understanding of human evolution humans have been scavenging/hunting animals for about 1.5-1 million years. An adaptation takes about 20,000 years and/or sufficient selective pressure. This seems like lots of time for humans to adapt to consuming dairy.

Correct me if I have soemthing wrong, but doesn't this make dairy a paleo food?

plus many (not all) modern humans retain lactose enzymes into adulthood. Though this may have been a more recent adaptation, that is in about the last 10,000 years or since we began to farm animals. But still an adaptation. .

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 20, 2013
at 02:25 PM

Not really a big deal, Mr.T - just word similar questions differently next time. People here often want to discuss that, but yes, maybe less so than how to applies to modernity.

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 20, 2013
at 02:05 PM

I get your point. However, it is not necessary for an animal to be adapted to a food in order to consume and even thrive on that food. A great step toward the dawn of human civilisation was taken when our ancestors climbed down from trees and began to scavenge carcasses. This was certainly a never before encountered food source but it allowed our brains to develop in a magnificent way. Also, in times of scarcity or famine the ability to digest a food source like mammary glands (wild or domestic) and extra the vital nutrients could mean the difference between life and death.

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 20, 2013
at 01:57 PM

I regret posting the question in the original form because I never wanted to discuss whether the occasonal consumption of mammary glands by ancestors should have any effect on our modern diet. I misunderstood how specific the focus of this website is. It's painfully clear that it is not so much a place to discuss the nuances of the actual paleolithic era diets of our ancestors throughout that era but rather as CD stated a forum to discuss how evolutionary biology may help to guide modern science in determining diet.

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 20, 2013
at 01:52 PM

A weener made of anuses that is then put into a bun and crammed into someone's mouth. There has got to be a joke in there somewhere.

D2b653e1bb95489af69ece6182abec48

(375)

on March 19, 2013
at 03:03 PM

By feces I meant the contents of the colon, rather than the contents of the entire digestive tract. Since those contents are discarded by the animal, I don't consider it wasteful to clean those out. The whole animal should be eaten, but corpophagy is where I draw the line. To my knowledge, chicken and pig anus, mammary glands, etc., are also eaten in the US, they're just usually processed into mcnuggets or hot dogs.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 19, 2013
at 02:54 PM

With all those qualifiers, then dairy was almost certainly part of a paleolithic diet, albeit seldomly. I'm always looking to apply those concepts to modern diet, which is where I was coming from. I also wouldn't "sell" the concept of the modern "paleo diet" by saying that dairy or grains are readily included (but I'd probably have a footnote about "modern alternatives", "butter is okay", etc).

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 19, 2013
at 02:41 PM

LOL I am not into reenactment...unless it involves loin cloths and grunts with a special someone. That's quite nice. Seriously though, it was just a question of whether consuming mammary glands consituted consuming dairy and if it did then dairy would be part of the historical paleolithic diet. At no time did I say that this shoudl have an effect on our modern diet. Nor did I say that my criteria for choosing foods for my diet were solely (if at all) based on what our paleolithic ancestors actually consumed.

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 19, 2013
at 02:32 PM

Again, the question wasn't whether this has bearing on the modern diet. But I agree we have just gotten into stating our opinions. Thank you for clarifying your initial response.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on March 19, 2013
at 02:03 PM

Mr. T, my point is that adaptations do not always occur. If there is no selective pressure, whether it be famine or reproduction, there is no need for adaptation to occur. Simply the use of dairy would not constitute enough, in my opinion, to elicit a response. Simply not drinking milk is enough to ensure the reproduction of your genes. And a famine is likely to also affect the cows/goats/cats that you are milking thus removing it's efficacy in that scenario.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 19, 2013
at 01:17 PM

LOL, the frequency of late-paleolithic grain eating would be less than many peoples' 80/20 rule. So, if you really are into reenactment and want to include grains seasonally, go for it.

24a0a0d5073f0a77c3737ef9d0e4c426

(188)

on March 19, 2013
at 12:02 PM

That surprises me that so many are askimg this question. I think it has zero bearing on a modern diet. Glad someone picked up on the pun. Since discussions on this forum are based on opinions of others who wrote a blog or a book then i'll try to answer the question since my answer has just as much chance of being the right one. Perhaps they were lactose intolerent.

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 19, 2013
at 03:55 AM

Thanks for the referral to the book. I will check it out.

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 19, 2013
at 03:37 AM

By definition it does make grains part of the paleolithic diet. It just doesn't make it part of your modern "paleo-diet".

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 19, 2013
at 03:27 AM

We also eat chicken and pig anus here in Taiwan as well. I don't understand how conusming the entire animal and not wasting any of its part, out of respect for the life of the animal and the quality of the nutrients that each part of the body uniquely offers somehow proves that eating mammary glands or consuming some raw, fresh milk from pastured animals is wrong. Where's the connection?

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 19, 2013
at 03:23 AM

Would you like to explain what makes the question so udderly ridiculous scatabrain? VB has written about Dr. Cate's book which addressed this issue. Also, I found a Mark Sisson interview on Robb Wolf's podcast, Paleo Solution #92, where he asks an almost identical question. I quote Sisson here: "Nobody talks about when you killed an animal and you devoured his organs, why you didn't devour the mammary glands. I mean was that thrown away?" I thought this forum welcomed newbies and open dialogue and discouraged personal attack without justification.

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 19, 2013
at 03:13 AM

Ouch! I thought no newby question was too newby. It was a legitimate question. By the way, do you think it hypocritical for someone with the user name "scatabrain" to insult peoples IQ?

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 19, 2013
at 03:10 AM

The feces (or contents of the intestinal tract) of flying squirrel, wild boar, and a variety of other animals is consumed regularly by the aboriginals in Taiwan where I live. It is a prized food that only the hunters get to consume.

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 19, 2013
at 03:05 AM

Hi CD. If you look at the question carefully it states: An adaptation takes about 20,000 years and/or sufficient selective pressure. By this I meant, an adaptation can take place in much less time then 20,000 years if there is a sufficient selective pressure such as famine. Also, I was not asking if you think it's ok for me to drink milk. I was just asking if you think it technically fits the definition of being a paleo food since it was most likely consumed during the paleolithic era. Congratulations on your success with weight loss. You must be very proud of yourself.

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 19, 2013
at 03:03 AM

In times of scarcity? Maybe reaching with this one.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on March 18, 2013
at 10:18 AM

Maybe udderly ridiculous... ;)

A08b210e4da7e69cd792bddc1f4aae4b

(1031)

on March 18, 2013
at 08:13 AM

Perhaps but I suspect our ancestors were pretty smart and would not usually kill a nursing animal because the young would die and that would be counterproductive.

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7 Answers

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3
F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on March 18, 2013
at 11:54 AM

In her book "Deep Nutrition" Dr. Cate claims that some of us are well-adapted to dairy since after hunter-gathering humanity went into herding for over 10,000 years in some regions.

However, that was RAW GRASS-FED full-fat fresh or fermented dairy. If you can find it and your body thrives on it - why not.

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 19, 2013
at 03:55 AM

Thanks for the referral to the book. I will check it out.

4
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on March 18, 2013
at 12:09 PM

First, my bias: I do consume dairy

  • Paleo is not reenactment. The idea is to use evolutionary biology to guide modern science to acheive optimal (for you) health
  • An adaptation takes about 20,000 years -- This is not true. Yes many adaptations occur significantly sooner than 20,000 years, but there is no set threshold. Without reproductive pressure there is no need for adaptation to occur. I have read from several modern evolutionary biologist who think we are devolving because there is no longer a need to evolve for reproduction -- Take me for example, I was well over 250 lbs, and still able to get a very good job, marry, and raise a family. Now I am 165 lbs, but my ability to contribute to society has not changed.

If you like dairy, drink/eat it. Don't look to a Q&A site for permission.

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 19, 2013
at 03:05 AM

Hi CD. If you look at the question carefully it states: An adaptation takes about 20,000 years and/or sufficient selective pressure. By this I meant, an adaptation can take place in much less time then 20,000 years if there is a sufficient selective pressure such as famine. Also, I was not asking if you think it's ok for me to drink milk. I was just asking if you think it technically fits the definition of being a paleo food since it was most likely consumed during the paleolithic era. Congratulations on your success with weight loss. You must be very proud of yourself.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on March 19, 2013
at 02:03 PM

Mr. T, my point is that adaptations do not always occur. If there is no selective pressure, whether it be famine or reproduction, there is no need for adaptation to occur. Simply the use of dairy would not constitute enough, in my opinion, to elicit a response. Simply not drinking milk is enough to ensure the reproduction of your genes. And a famine is likely to also affect the cows/goats/cats that you are milking thus removing it's efficacy in that scenario.

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 20, 2013
at 02:05 PM

I get your point. However, it is not necessary for an animal to be adapted to a food in order to consume and even thrive on that food. A great step toward the dawn of human civilisation was taken when our ancestors climbed down from trees and began to scavenge carcasses. This was certainly a never before encountered food source but it allowed our brains to develop in a magnificent way. Also, in times of scarcity or famine the ability to digest a food source like mammary glands (wild or domestic) and extra the vital nutrients could mean the difference between life and death.

2
24a0a0d5073f0a77c3737ef9d0e4c426

on March 18, 2013
at 09:56 AM

I think the average IQ level on this site just dropped a few points. Sorry, but this question is utterly ridiculous.

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 19, 2013
at 03:23 AM

Would you like to explain what makes the question so udderly ridiculous scatabrain? VB has written about Dr. Cate's book which addressed this issue. Also, I found a Mark Sisson interview on Robb Wolf's podcast, Paleo Solution #92, where he asks an almost identical question. I quote Sisson here: "Nobody talks about when you killed an animal and you devoured his organs, why you didn't devour the mammary glands. I mean was that thrown away?" I thought this forum welcomed newbies and open dialogue and discouraged personal attack without justification.

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 19, 2013
at 02:32 PM

Again, the question wasn't whether this has bearing on the modern diet. But I agree we have just gotten into stating our opinions. Thank you for clarifying your initial response.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on March 18, 2013
at 10:18 AM

Maybe udderly ridiculous... ;)

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 19, 2013
at 03:13 AM

Ouch! I thought no newby question was too newby. It was a legitimate question. By the way, do you think it hypocritical for someone with the user name "scatabrain" to insult peoples IQ?

24a0a0d5073f0a77c3737ef9d0e4c426

(188)

on March 19, 2013
at 12:02 PM

That surprises me that so many are askimg this question. I think it has zero bearing on a modern diet. Glad someone picked up on the pun. Since discussions on this forum are based on opinions of others who wrote a blog or a book then i'll try to answer the question since my answer has just as much chance of being the right one. Perhaps they were lactose intolerent.

1
D2b653e1bb95489af69ece6182abec48

(375)

on March 18, 2013
at 11:55 AM

By the same reasoning, feces should be paleo too. Check out 'Bourdain samples Warthog Anus in Namibia with Bushmen'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_JZrjnwYmM

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 19, 2013
at 03:27 AM

We also eat chicken and pig anus here in Taiwan as well. I don't understand how conusming the entire animal and not wasting any of its part, out of respect for the life of the animal and the quality of the nutrients that each part of the body uniquely offers somehow proves that eating mammary glands or consuming some raw, fresh milk from pastured animals is wrong. Where's the connection?

D2b653e1bb95489af69ece6182abec48

(375)

on March 19, 2013
at 03:03 PM

By feces I meant the contents of the colon, rather than the contents of the entire digestive tract. Since those contents are discarded by the animal, I don't consider it wasteful to clean those out. The whole animal should be eaten, but corpophagy is where I draw the line. To my knowledge, chicken and pig anus, mammary glands, etc., are also eaten in the US, they're just usually processed into mcnuggets or hot dogs.

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 19, 2013
at 03:10 AM

The feces (or contents of the intestinal tract) of flying squirrel, wild boar, and a variety of other animals is consumed regularly by the aboriginals in Taiwan where I live. It is a prized food that only the hunters get to consume.

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 20, 2013
at 01:52 PM

A weener made of anuses that is then put into a bun and crammed into someone's mouth. There has got to be a joke in there somewhere.

1
Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 18, 2013
at 11:21 AM

No more than finding some evidence that paleo humans ate grains when they were in season on occasion makes grains generally paleo. It's a matter of scale - if you feel that eating a whole udder from a mammal on occassion translates to the US recommended 2-3 servings of dairy a day, you are delusional.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 19, 2013
at 01:17 PM

LOL, the frequency of late-paleolithic grain eating would be less than many peoples' 80/20 rule. So, if you really are into reenactment and want to include grains seasonally, go for it.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 19, 2013
at 02:54 PM

With all those qualifiers, then dairy was almost certainly part of a paleolithic diet, albeit seldomly. I'm always looking to apply those concepts to modern diet, which is where I was coming from. I also wouldn't "sell" the concept of the modern "paleo diet" by saying that dairy or grains are readily included (but I'd probably have a footnote about "modern alternatives", "butter is okay", etc).

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 19, 2013
at 03:37 AM

By definition it does make grains part of the paleolithic diet. It just doesn't make it part of your modern "paleo-diet".

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 20, 2013
at 01:57 PM

I regret posting the question in the original form because I never wanted to discuss whether the occasonal consumption of mammary glands by ancestors should have any effect on our modern diet. I misunderstood how specific the focus of this website is. It's painfully clear that it is not so much a place to discuss the nuances of the actual paleolithic era diets of our ancestors throughout that era but rather as CD stated a forum to discuss how evolutionary biology may help to guide modern science in determining diet.

D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 19, 2013
at 02:41 PM

LOL I am not into reenactment...unless it involves loin cloths and grunts with a special someone. That's quite nice. Seriously though, it was just a question of whether consuming mammary glands consituted consuming dairy and if it did then dairy would be part of the historical paleolithic diet. At no time did I say that this shoudl have an effect on our modern diet. Nor did I say that my criteria for choosing foods for my diet were solely (if at all) based on what our paleolithic ancestors actually consumed.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 20, 2013
at 02:25 PM

Not really a big deal, Mr.T - just word similar questions differently next time. People here often want to discuss that, but yes, maybe less so than how to applies to modernity.

1
6f1b9df910bbb480a73da1e779b17b78

on March 18, 2013
at 11:05 AM

Our ancestor did not go out and milk the cow or any other animal, that is how we get dairy. Simply eating the gland after it is killed you may get some milk but not a huge amount. Humans are the only species that continue to drink milk after we are weaned, but I'm pretty sure nature did not intend for this to happen. Nature wants us to get our calcium from leafy greens instead of milk which is has plenty of sugar (lactose) in it. Great for infants that need it, but not so great for adult who do not.

0
D400bbb1c5b3b874b8334a268c854c62

(120)

on March 19, 2013
at 08:39 AM

To CD

CD while I agree that modern man may not have the selective pressure to encourage adaptations as we did in our evolutionary past, you seem to be confusing genetics and epigenetics. You propose the idea that we are devolving and use your weight as an example. You stated that you were 250 lbs when you married and had children and that you are now only 165 lbs.Your weight at the time of having children would have no influence on the genes your children inherited (Unless you have a genetic propensity toward obesity).The idea that what you do in your life effects the genes you pass onto your offspring is called Lamarckism. It was disproved some time ago. You can read about it in any highschool biology text. The only way that your being 250 lbs. at the time of marriage and having a family could have effected the genes you passed to your offspring is if your weight was somehow a factor in the mate that selected you. That is if you were passed over by some more genetically ideal mate because of your weight. But this is a different issue all together.

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