Old New Diets: The Trendy Paleolithic Diets
The premise of the diet is to help prevent the well termed “diseases of affluence”: coronary heart disease, acne, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, diabetes. Interestingly not to be found in cultures that have yet not adopted an industrial way of life such as the residents of Kitava.
Kitava residents appear to be free of the diseases of affluence due to their diet, living exclusively on root vegetables, fruits and fish. Research found that even among their elderly, risk of heart attack was close to zero in contrast with the popuation of the U.S., up to 23%.
It is well known that we are in an unbattling public health crisis 1/3 of the population of the U.S are obese, 1/3 will develop diabetes type 2 in his/her life. The question is, why are we suffering these disorders when largely non-industrial populations don´t? Medical research continues to identify the problem, but every day answers can be given.
A study in Cleveland Zoo has seen that animals in captivity fed with processed and nutritious foods have developed obesity and or heart disease and the return of these animals to its original diet have caused them to limit excess weight and reverse some of the damage made in their health. Simply put, each animal is adapted to its ecological environment. Chaniging its niche would consequently change its organism and therefore would cause its existing health issues. Mass production and technology has taken us away from our natural environment. We consume foods and have changed completely our lifestyles. Given this, how can we bring back our old diet and adapt it in our modern lifestyle?
It is important to note that there is no ideal human diet. Very few hunter-gatherer groups exist to this day, but they are based upon nuts, palm starch, and meat and fat rich diet and are all based on foods found before the existence of agriculture and processed foods.
Studying the Paleolithic Diet
Clinical trials have been made to study the effects of these diets in diabetic and pre-diabetic volunteers with coronary disease and were placed in one of the two diets for a 12-week study period conducted by Dr. Lindeberg and his colleagues.
Paleolithic diet: fish, fruit, vegetables, starchy root vegetables, nuts, eggs and lean meat.
Mediterranean diet: low-fat dairy, whole grains, vegetables, oil, margarine and fruit.
Group A, in the Paleolithic diet lost 70% more body fat than the Mediterranean group as well as a notably decrease of blood sugar. Patients that had mild early cases of diabetes reached baseline levels, and patients with long term diabetes showed a significant improvement in their condition.
Industrialization has radically changed the way we eat. Grain based desserts, sweetened and alcoholic beverages are constant in our daily diets. A change in the amount of vegetables, lean meats, fruits, and fish in diets while reducing grain, dairy and legume intake have substantial changes in lowering blood sugar levels, increase in energy and weight loss. We may not need to adhere to a religious “Paleolithic Diet”, but certain changes can be made for our health improvement.