In case you’ve been living under a pile of refined sugar, the Ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low carb movement, taking people rich and bored enough to care about “macros” by storm. To the chagrin of some medical professionals (most notably Dr Tony Bartone, president of the Australian Medical Association) and the applause of others, the Keto diet has gained momentum, spruiked by celebrity chef Pete Evans and undisputed King of basketball Lebron James.
With every day that passes, what used to be a treatment for epilepsy and autoimmune disease is becoming a focal point for weight loss and #health routines. Advocates take to the streets with Vegan-esque fervour. Documentaries making radical claims hit the Flix. And suddenly your friends are judging you for eating toast for breakfast.
To those of us who prefer to remain wilfully ignorant of our diets of coffee and carbs,
archaeology science recently struck a rare blow in our favour: apparently Copper Age humans didn’t like Keto acolytes either. Although the Iceman probably didn’t refer to his diet, which scientists discovered last week to be “remarkably high fat,” as Keto—that’s pretty much exactly definitely what it was.
As reported by Science Daily, “In 1991, German tourists discovered a human body that was later determined to be the oldest naturally preserved ice mummy, known as Ötzi or the Iceman. Now, researchers who have conducted the first in-depth analysis of the Iceman’s stomach contents offer a rare glimpse of our ancestor’s ancient dietary habits.”
“By using a complementary multi-omics approach combined with microscopy, we reconstructed the Iceman’s last meal, showing that he has had a remarkably high proportion of fat in his diet, supplemented with wild meat from ibex and red deer, cereals from einkorn, and with traces of toxic bracken.”
While the high-fat diet was unexpected, the researchers said that given the extreme alpine environment in which the Iceman lived, it makes sense.
“The high and cold environment is particularly challenging for the human physiology and requires optimal nutrient supply to avoid rapid starvation and energy loss,” said Albert Zink, one of the researchers. “The Iceman seemed to have been fully aware that fat represents an excellent energy source.”
While this could be construed as advantage Keto, the Iceman’s cause of death must first be considered. “The cause of death is most likely due to an arrow that hit him in the left shoulder blade and caused massive bleeding,” says Chief Inspector Alexander Horn of the Munich Criminal Investigation Department (PRI).
“One or two days before the murder, there was a fight. Ötzi was part of that fight and he managed to defend himself, grabbing a sharp object like a knife. He had a massive injury to the right hand.”
While many people cite the short lifespan of our Palaeolithic (in this case, Copper Age) ancestors as proof the diet can’t have been that good for you, that’s low hanging fruit. No, we reckon the fact that old mate Ötzi was murdered is proof that embracing the Keto diet is a risky business for a whole ‘nother reason: social isolation.
Although your 21st century friends are (hopefully) unlikely to kill you, telling them to forego baguettes, croissants, donuts, pizza, pasta, garlic bread etc. in the name of Keto is a sure-fire way to ensure your next euro vacay is solo—and not by choice.