In an editorial accompanying the article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Katharine Milton, PhD, a biological anthropologist at the University of California at Berkeley
, notes that it is unlikely that any hunter-gatherers, regardless of diet, suffered from the diseases of modern civilization. They simply didn't live long enough to develop these illnesses, which are typically associated with old age, she says. What's more, our prehistoric ancestors differed from us in at least one other important way. ''Hunter-gatherers were not on diets,'' Milton says. ''They were trying to put on weight, not take it off."
Like many nutritionists, Milton thinks it's wise to imitate our ancestors and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. But one thing Americans don't need to do, she believes, is increase animal fat and protein. Gene Spiller, PhD, a Los Altos, Calif., nutritionist and author of Nutrition Secrets of the Ancients, agrees that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption is a good idea. ''Trying to make meat the foundation, even if it's lean, I think is incorrect,'' Spiller says. After all, Paleolithic men and women ate meat only when they were lucky enough to catch it, not every day, he adds.John Foreyt, PhD, a Baylor College of Medicine weight control expert, also worries about diets that are relatively high in animal fat. ''Dietary fat is still the key to obesity,'' he says. ''Today we get higher fat levels in domesticated animals than did earlier man, who ate wild, leaner ones.''