The modern American diet is believed to contribute to “diseases of civilization.” Paleolithic was the period of the genus Homo that started 2 million years ago and ended 10,000 years ago with the onset of agriculture (Neolithic period). Our Paleolithic ancestors ate lean wild meats, marrow, organs, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. They ate no dairy and no legumes.
There has been too little time for our metabolism to adjust to the changes brought by agriculture. The most recent adjustments have resulted from the “Industrial Revolution” and the “Fast Food Revolution.” Recent foods added to our diets include refined grains, nonhuman milk, refined carbohydrates, fats, oils and legumes. We have a great reduction of potassium intake and increase in sodium intake. The Neolithic changes in our diets are believed to contribute to atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, hypertension and some cancers.
The authors studied the hunter/gatherer, pre-agricultural, Paleolithic diet in nine non-obese, healthy and sedentary subjects. They ate their normal diets for 3 days, ate a diet of increasing potassium and fiber for 7 days and, then, a Paleolithic diet for 10 days. The Paleolithic diet included lean meat, fish, fruits, eggs, vegetables, tree nuts, canola oil, mayonnaise and honey. Cereals, grains, dairy, potatoes and legumes were excluded for 10 days. (Mayonnaise, carrot juice and domestic meats are similar to Paleolithic foods.) Calories were added to prevent weight loss.
The subject’s lab tests on their normal diets were compared with those on the Paleolithic diet. The tests included arterial blood pressure, urine sodium and potassium output, glucose and insulin during a 2 hour glucose tolerance test, insulin sensitivity, plasma lipid levels and arterial relaxation. The Paleolithic diet lowered blood pressures, improved artery relaxation, reduced plasma insulin, cholesterol, low density lipoproteins (LDL) and triglycerides. All subjects showed improved carbohydrate and lipid values. There was no significant change in high density lipoprotein (HDL) or urinary pH. The K/Na intake ratios increased 400%.
CONCLUSION: All subjects on a short-term Paleolithic diet had improved lab values. “…avoiding Western foods is more important than counting calories, fat, carbohydrate or protein…”