Studies Show Carbs Are Basically The Reason Humans Are Smarter Than Monkeys

Alain Saint-Dic
Alain Saint-Dic, Health and Fitness Editor at 20something, brings over nine years of experience in the health and fitness industry. Though he studied pre-law, his love for the human body, it's adaptive ability and unlocking the largely untapped potential of human beings led him to pursue a passionate career in health, fitness, and athletics.

In an effort to enhance healthy habits and curb the growing obesity rate, we’ve gone as far back in time as humanly possible to embrace the paleolithic diet of the early humans. Sure, we’re not going to go back to living in caves and actually hunting our food, but there are very few depictions of obese cave people. So we should mimic the cave man diet for a leaner, healthier, and stronger human race, right?

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Taking on the paleo diet means you have to leave a few things out of your nutritional profile, including the controversial simple carbohydrate. Now, a lot of diets tend to restrict carbs, however there may be some evidence that carbs actually played a large role in our evolution and shouldn’t be left out.

Paleo at a Glance

The paleo diet consists of eating foods that Fred Flintstone would’ve stocked up on, minus the occasional slab of brontosaurus.

  • Paleo Do’s: Fruits, vegetables, lean meats, seafood, nuts
  • Paleo Don’ts: Anything tasty, dairy, grains, processed foods and sugars, legumes, starches, alcohol

On this diet, you might as well live in a cave, because you’ll have to avoid all social events with the exception of paleo gatherings (are those a thing?). However, this will definitely put your body in a healthy place and you’ll probably live to a much riper age than the rest of us….in your cave.

Okay so clearly the paleo diet only embraces carbs from fruits and veggies. What about the other carbs and why would scientists want to add those things back into our diet?

Brain Size

Studies show that brain function in the body utilizes a lot of energy and blood glucose. In layman’s terms, though I don’t advocate much for simple sugars, if you want your brain to run at an efficient pace, broccoli is not the best type of carb to get your energy from. Its delicious, healthy and fibrous, but not efficient. Our body to brain size ratio is relatively high and carbs definitely played a role in our evolution. Compared to other primates, our ability to digest starches is also higher, proving the role of carbs in our evolution. The theory is that with our enhanced ability to digest starches (carbs), brain development in the womb also increased, in turn, enhancing our brain size and our smarts!

Besides the adverse side effects from overindulging processed foods and not using whole food sources, carbs play an important role in our lives. So as usual, rather than eliminate them, I preach them in moderation!

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