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What is an "ancestral diet" ?

14 March 2023

As its name suggests, ancestral nutrition is a dietary plan based on the foods consumed by our ancestors. It involves going back to the sources, meaning primarily nourishing ourselves with healthy and natural foods that are minimally processed or unprocessed.

Ancestral nutrition is about eating LOCAL.

It means consuming foods from local farmers and markets. This not only benefits the environment but also supports the Quebec economy. Eating ancestrally means knowing the origin of our foods, understanding who cultivated them, and how they were grown.

Ancestral nutrition is SUSTAINABLE.

Cattle are meant to be grass-fed. Chickens are meant to be raised on pasture. Vegetables are not supposed to be grown with chemicals. Our ancestors didn't use antibiotics or growth hormones in their farming techniques. They didn't crowd animals in feedlots. Instead, they prioritized animal welfare and environmental stewardship.

To learn more about the benefits of grass-fed beef, check out our article here!

Ancestral nutrition is SEASONAL.

Eating seasonally can be challenging, but there are local markets that make seasonal eating much more accessible. This allows you to align with the rhythms of nature and ensures that our foods are healthier as they haven't traveled thousands of kilometers to reach us. Our ancestors had no choice but to live in harmony with the seasons. Although our resources are more advanced today, it's important to consider this seasonal cycle for the sake of our environment.

Ancestral nutrition is about eating the best in a MODERN WORLD.

In our modern world, we are surrounded by trendy diets, quick fixes, and processed foods that are often detrimental to our health and the environment. However, it is possible to nourish ourselves with healthy and natural products without necessarily having to go out and hunt for our food. The main difference between an ancestral diet and a modern diet lies in the presence of modern and industrialized processes and ingredients in food creation. An ancestral diet consists of whole foods free from industrialized methods and ingredients. In contrast, the modern diet is characterized by foods containing synthetic ingredients and manufactured using industrial processes. This is evident in most supermarkets, where the majority of the offered foods are processed, high in sugar, synthetic oils, empty carbohydrates, preservatives, artificial flavors, and colors, and low in healthy proteins and nutrients.

The Benefits of Ancestral Nutrition on Our Health

The advantages of an ancestral diet lie in avoiding processed and unhealthy foods that are highly prevalent in the modern diet. By following an ancestral nutrition plan, we steer clear of sugar, empty carbohydrates, synthetic oils, and artificial ingredients that contribute significantly to chronic diseases commonly observed in modern society.


An ancestral diet promotes foods that are better for digestion and the diversity of the gut microbiome. Modern diet foods like sugars, refined flours, and refined oils are responsible for much of the poor gut health. By following an ancestral diet, one can expect an improvement in gut health.

A 2019 study published in PLoS One highlighted highly diversified microbiomes in individuals following a modern diet, comparing them to traditional populations. Studies on ancestral populations consuming both animal and plant-based foods reveal greater microbial diversity compared to those on an industrialized diet. It becomes evident that acellular carbohydrates, such as refined flours and sugars, wreak havoc on the gut microbiome.


Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that coexist and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It includes hypertension, hyperglycemia, and excess body fat. Metabolic syndrome results from mitochondrial dysfunction caused by excessive sugar consumption. By following an ancestral diet, you reduce sugar intake, which can contribute to reversing metabolic syndrome.

In clinical trials, ancestral diets perform better than other diets recommended by national health organizations such as the American Heart Association. Several studies ranging from a few weeks to two years show that a paleo diet improves blood pressure, body weight, waist circumference, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels.


Ancestral diets are free of processed foods high in sugars and carbohydrates, which are responsible for the obesity and poor body composition observed in modern society. Ancestral diets, being rich in nutrients, are also more satiating, meaning you need to consume fewer calories. Therefore, by following an ancestral diet, you can expect to lose fat, gain muscle, and improve your body composition.

A study from Stanford showed that on average, people who reduce added sugars, refined grains, and processed foods lose weight within 12 months, regardless of the macronutrient ratio.


Chronic inflammation is one of the main catalysts for diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease, and arthritis. Sugar, refined carbohydrates, and oils are all inflammatory and contribute to chronic inflammation. By following an ancestral diet, you avoid inflammatory foods and reduce inflammation.

Indeed, it has been shown that ancestral diets that eliminate these foods and focus on nutrient-rich whole foods, including both plant and animal products, reduce markers of inflammation.


Following an ancestral diet generally contributes to improved health and well-being, thus enhancing quality of life.

It is commonly believed that our Paleolithic ancestors lived on average until the age of 25 years. The lower life expectancy observed in those studies was heavily skewed by higher infant mortality rates, the absence of antibiotics, emergency medicine, etc. Without the burden of chronic diseases, those later years were likely of much higher quality than those experienced by most elderly people today. Combining an ancestral diet with the benefits of modern medicine will likely lead to much longer and healthier lifespans than the average.

The Importance of Proteins in Ancestral Diets

The human body assembles and utilizes approximately 50,000 different proteins to form organs, nerves, muscles, and bones. All proteins are combinations of 22 amino acids, eight of which are considered essential nutrients for humans, meaning the human body cannot produce them. When essential amino acids are present in the diet, the body can usually manufacture other non-essential amino acids. However, if even one essential amino acid is low or missing, the body cannot synthesize the other necessary proteins, even if the overall protein intake is high.

Proteins are essential for normal growth, hormone formation, and several other functions in the human body. Animal protein is our only source of complete proteins. All essential amino acids, as well as many amino acids considered non-essential, are present in animal-derived products. The amount of animal protein we need in our diet depends on our genetic makeup and hormonal factors. Some people need a lot of meat, while others do not produce enough hydrochloric acid in their stomachs to support large quantities. The needs for essential amino acids vary greatly from person to person. However, what is certain is that the way we raise livestock will certainly impact the benefits that animal proteins can bring to our bodies. The meat, milk, and eggs found in our supermarkets are mostly highly contaminated and have significantly lower nutritional quality than the products available to our ancestors just a few decades ago. Modern farming techniques include the use of growth hormones to make the meat more tender and antibiotics to help livestock survive in overcrowded feedlots. Many cattle never see the great outdoors, and calves are often confined to crates for their entire short lives. Sick animals regularly pass inspections and end up in the food supply. Chickens are raised in overcrowded enclosures, often under artificial light day and night, and are fed with lower-quality feed. They also need to be protected from infections with antibiotics. Their eggs have lower nutritional qualities than eggs from free-range and properly fed chickens. According to the famous oncologist Virginia Livingston-Wheeler, most chickens and nearly half of the beef consumed in America today are cancerous and pathogenic.

Educated consumers and enlightened farmers can work together to promote the return of mixed farming, where fruit and vegetable cultivation is combined with livestock raising in an efficient, economical, environmentally friendly, and animal-respectful manner. Livestock, which provides rich manure, is the absolute basis of healthy and sustainable agriculture. In addition, chickens that have access to pastures eat natural ingredients for them and produce high-quality eggs. Grass-fed beef raised on pasture allows the land to regenerate and the cattle to stay healthy without the need for antibiotics to treat diseases. It is not livestock farming that is causing environmental destruction, but rather unwise farming practices and monopolistic distribution systems. Without stopping the consumption of meat, it is essential to source meats, fish, and seafood that have been raised responsibly, sustainably, and with a known origin.

Creating Change One Plate at a Time

Réserve Locale supports local producers who respect the environment and animals, producers who want to return to traditional practices. Our partners and products have been carefully chosen to allow Quebecers to eat differently and offer them an ancestral diet.


Our beef is grass-fed, meaning it has spent its life grazing in pastures. Being a ruminant, beef cannot digest various grains offered in conventional farming well. A natural grass diet produces leaner meat, richer in antioxidants and vitamins, and contains twice as many omega-3 fatty acids as conventionally raised beef. Our partners raise high-quality cattle without using antibiotics or hormones. From an environmental perspective, grazing on pasture is incomparable. By grazing on grass, beef allows the soil to absorb and store carbon. In contrast, conventional farming, with heavy machinery used on numerous fields dedicated to feeding cattle, exposes the buried carbon in the soil to the air and converts it into CO2.


In conventional farming, chickens are fed grains as well as animal by-product-based feed. Having very little space to move and exercise, chickens become fatter. To cool the chicken, its meat is immersed in water, causing it to lose volume during cooking. At Ferme des Voltigeurs and Les Viandes Bio de Charlevoix, chickens are fed 100% plant-based grains, have more space to move, do not receive any preventive antibiotics, and are air-cooled instead of water-cooled. Organically raised chickens benefit from grains grown without the use of pesticides, insecticides, chemical fertilizers, or GMOs. The chickens also have access to the outdoors and can eat entirely natural ingredients while enjoying daylight.


Living cage-free in a stimulating environment three times larger than usual, pigs from Rang 4, DuBreton Rustique, and Viandes Bio de Charlevoix undergo no physical alterations, such as teeth or tail trimming, which unfortunately occur systematically in conventional farming. Pigs are fed non-modified plant grains and are raised without hormones or antibiotics.


The Avibross farm, located in the Victoriaville region and owned by the Brosseau family, offers natural turkey without antibiotics or animal substitutes. Fed with plant-based grains, turkey has lean and protein-rich meat.


Over 60% of lamb found in supermarkets comes from New Zealand, Australia, or Alberta. Quebec Lamb deserves to be known, and that's why we promote products from Agneau de Chez-Nous, known for their responsible farming practices.


Montpak raises its calves with a fortified grain formula with vitamins and minerals that ensures the animal's proper development, promotes higher nutrient content, and offers delicate taste. Such delicious and versatile meat results from maintaining this dietary regime, which produces lean, low-fat, low-cholesterol meat rich in iron and proteins.


Nutritionally and environmentally, game meat is probably one of the best choices. Northfork Ranch raises deer and bison on pasture, allowing the animals to graze pesticide-free grass in the fields and thereby preserving soil biodiversity and the surrounding nature. In other words, this type of farming could not be more natural and environmentally friendly, as it genuinely offers a wild life to animals.


Our fish come from accredited sustainable fisheries and controlled aquacultures. Our suppliers' partner fisheries have MSC, ASC, and Ocean Wise certifications. We prioritize fisheries in Quebec, but to offer interesting diversity to our customers, some products may be caught off the coasts of British Columbia, Iceland, or Argentina (shrimp).

To view our products, click here!

Sources used for the writing of this article:

Boers, I. (2014). Favourable effects of consuming a Palaeolithic-type diet on characteristics of the metabolic syndrome: a randomized controlled pilot-study. National Library of Medicine.

Fallon, Sally. (2001). “Proteins” in Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and Diet Dictocrats. Washington. NewTrends Publishing, Inc. p. 26-31.

Gardner, C et al. (2018). Effect of Low-Fat vs Low-Carbohydrate Diet on 12-Month Weight Loss in Overweight Adults and the Association With Genotype Pattern or Insulin Secretion. Stanford Prevention Research Center.

Gurven, M & Kaplan, H. (2007). Longevity Among Hunter-Gatherers: A Cross-Cultural Examination. Wiley Online Library.

Masharani, U. (2015). Metabolic and physiologic effects from consuming a hunter-gatherer (Paleolithic)-type diet in type 2 diabetes. National Library of Medicine.

Pastore, R et al. (2015). Paleolithic nutrition improves plasma lipid concentrations of hypercholesterolemic adults to a greater extent than traditional heart-healthy dietary recommendations. National Library of Medicine.

Pickworth, C and al. (2019). Randomized controlled trials investigating the relationship between dietary pattern and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein: a systematic review. National Library of Medicine.

PLoS One. (2019). Gut microbiome response to a modern Paleolithic diet in a Western lifestyle context. PLoS One.

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