It seems like more and more people these days are chasing diet fads in an effort to try and live longer, healthier lives. One of the most popular of these diets is the paleo diet which is based on foods that early humans are believed to have eaten such as meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit, cutting out dairy, grain, and processed foods. This diet focuses mostly on pre-civilized humans as Egyptians did include a lot of grain in their diets.

Recently, Peter Ungar, a professor at the University of Arkansas who graduated from Binghamton University has shed some light on what the real paleo diet consisted of.

Don’t Let the Bones Fool You!

Now we typically assume that herbivores have large teeth that are suitable for grinding up plant material, yet Ungar states that the evidence points to the contrary. Herbivores, he states, actually have small jaws and teeth that increase bite efficiency.

What we should be looking for, in addition to the size and shape of teeth alone, is the thickness of the enamel found on the teeth. Thick enamel means that the teeth are suited for eating harder foods, such as nuts.

The shape of the teeth also plays a factor, which is most evident in carnivores who have more bladed teeth suited for cutting meat. Ungar mentions that humans actually have less specialized teeth which indicates that their diet had a lot of variety and consisted of a mixture of ground foraging, vegetation, as well as meat.

It is important to mention that the teeth of ancient humans indicated what they should have eaten, but does not necessarily reflect what they actually ate, although we can often get a good idea about this from other sources like fossilized plaque or the presence of tools and food trash (such as bones or nut shells).

So What Should We Eat?

It is important to eat a diet that contains a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. This includes meat, fruits, vegetables, and dairy, as well as the occasional grains. If you are looking for healthy teeth, it is also important to practice regular dental hygiene and visit the dentist regularly.

It is great to see someone from our own backyard make such great leaps in the study of ancient humans, and those parents who are sending their kids off to Binghamton University this coming year may want to go over proper toothbrush maintenance with their kids as well as oral hygiene.

If you have any questions about maintaining your teeth, or would like to schedule an appointment with a Rockland County dentist please call B&D Dental Excellence in West Nyack at (845) 627-7645.