His initial paper in 1985
The best available estimates suggest that those ancestors obtained about 35% of their dietary energy from fats, 35% from carbohydrates and 30% from protein. Saturated fats contributed approximately 7.5% total energy and harmful trans-fatty acids contributed negligible amounts. Polyunsaturated fat intake was high, with n-6:n-3 approaching 2:1 (v. 10:1 today). Cholesterol consumption was substantial, perhaps 480 mg/d. Carbohydrate came from uncultivated fruits and vegetables, approximately 50% energy intake as compared with the present level of 16% energy intake for Americans. High fruit and vegetable intake and minimal grain and dairy consumption made ancestral diets base-yielding, unlike today's acid-producing pattern. Honey comprised 2-3% energy intake as compared with the 15% added sugars contribute currently. Fibre consumption was high, perhaps 100 g/d, but phytate content was minimal. Vitamin, mineral and (probably) phytochemical intake was typically 1.5 to eight times that of today except for that of Na, generally <1000 mg/d, i.e. much less than that of K. The field of nutrition science suffers from the absence of a unifying hypothesis on which to build a dietary strategy for prevention; there is no Kuhnian paradigm, which some researchers believe to be a prerequisite for progress in any scientific discipline. An understanding of human evolutionary experience and its relevance to contemporary nutritional requirements may address this critical deficiency.
His follow-up paper 25 years later
Reduction of carbohydrates to extremely low levels is not consistent with the HG model, but neither is a very high CHO, “meat as a condiment”–type diet; furthermore, CHO sources are important. HG CHO came from fruit, vegetables, and nuts, not from grains. Refined, concentrated CHOs such as sucrose played virtually no role, and the consumption of plant CHO necessarily resulted in high fiber intake. If we were to rebuild the food pyramid along HG lines, the base would not be grains but fruits and vegetables, which could be chosen to provide adequate fiber content. The second tier would be meat, fish, and low-fat dairy products, all very lean. Whole grains might come next (although even these were very unusual for HGs), whereas fats, oils, and refined carbohydrates would occupy the same very small place at the top, essentially functioning as condiments in a healthy diet. These guidelines would not exactly replicate the HG diet in terms of food categories, but it would do so roughly in terms of macronutrients.
S. Boyd Eaton, M.D. - Long-Term Paleo: What Happens if You Follow the Ancestral Health Protocol for Thirty Years?
A single person’s experience hardly constitutes robust scientific evidence. Nevertheless, individual life histories can sometimes elicit public acceptance of health recommendations more readily than can findings from impeccably-designed epidemiological investigations. Like most people considering adoption of a Paleo lifestyle, Eaton has had a fairly demanding job, as well as family, social, civic and professional responsibilities. His story doesn’t come from a metabolic ward setting. Some symposium attendees may wish to know how he’s maintained, and enjoyed, diet and exercise in the ancestral mold for over thirty years. More will be interested in the outcome (so far) –the health profile that results from three decades of Paleo living.
S. Boyd Eaton M.D. has been a “Paleo” practitioner since the late 1970’s –probably as long, or longer, than anyone else has followed a health-promoting program specifically modeled on the essential lifestyle elements of Stone Age humans. His New England Journal of Medicine article, Paleolithic Nutrition, (with co-author Mel Konner) has been called by some the original impetus for the ancestral health movement.