How Does the Paleo Diet Stack Up Scientifically?

For those of you eating Paleo and wondering how it stacks up scientifically, here's a bit of data, courtesy of Mark Sisson.

  1. A population of Australian aborigines living the typical "city" life were asked to revert to a traditional aboriginal diet consisting of primarily animals and plants. This sick overweight population lost an average of 17.6 lbs, and fasting and postmeal sugar dropped from the diabetic into the non diabetic range. Insulin levels (linked to a variety of health problems when elevated) plummeted and triglycerides (a dangerous form of cholesterol) dropped significantly.
  2. Patients with high cholesterol. This study took a group of patients with high cholesterol and had them follow the typical American Heart Association recommendations for 4 months (the usual nonsense about low saturated fat and low cholesterol, lots of "healthy" whole grains, and also fish, fruit and veggies and low salt) and then 4 months eating paleo. On the American Heart Ass. diet none of the goals for cholesterol, LDL, HDL or triglycerides were met. On a Paleolithic diet, the same group despite substantially higher animal meat and egg intake had an improvement in total cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides. They also lost more weight and ate fewer calories without being asked to.....   The takeaway is ....... remove dairy and grains and replace them with more healthy fat.......and you get healthier.
  3. Postmenopausal women followed either a typical low fat diet or a Paleo diet for 2 years. The group eating Paleo at 6, 12, 18 months lost more body fat (especially abdominal fat), and had greater drops in triglycerides and blood pressure than the other group. These changes were sustained, until the Paleo group decided to "liberalize" food choices by around 2 years. This shows that blood and body changes are sustained on this long as you do it. Like many diets, it isn't easy to persist. Remember the Angela Duckworth comment...."Life is Meant to be Lived Like a Marathon, not a Sprint."
  4. Patients with heart disease. These patients had known heart disease, were overweight, and pre diabetic or diabetic. They were randomized to either a Mediterranean diet or a Paleo diet.
  5. The Paleo diet was based on eggs, meat, fish, nuts, veggies and fruits and root vegetables. The Mediterranean diet was based on whole grains, fish, low fat dairy, fruits and veggies. This study was short and didn't track any outcomes but did show that the Paleo diet was more satiating. People on the Paleo diet needed an average of 1400 calories to feel full while the Mediterranean group needed 1800 to feel full. These differences likely reflect the insulinogenic (insulin raising) properties of dairy and grains. High insulin=want to eat more.
Click here for a list of 22 scientific studies supporting this style of eating. 

Message: If you pick foods with one ingredient, you're going to do better. How many foods in your house have just one ingredient?
Ken Jackson
Nov 12th, 2015
I have 'malignant hypertension' and have been searching for low sodium diet that is sustainable. We are elderly and eat out about 4 times per week. I don't even know what to search for on the restaurant menus. I have natural o.j. to take my meds in morn., at lunch I have very low sodium shredded wheat with Almond Breeze milk or Boar's head low sodium turkey along with low sodium Lacey Swiss on low sodium thin whole wheat bread. Exercise by bowling daily. But still with all the meds I'm taking my blood pressure still runs high. What am I to do?
1 Reply
Nov 13th, 2015
Greetings Ken,

Our best advice to you is to continue monitoring your blood pressure and working with your doctor to control it. Your doctor can check if there is an unusual cause of the hypertension, such as renal artery stenosis or a rare endocrine disorder. Further, he/she understands the level and amount of activity you should be getting into your daily routine and the most appropriate medications for you. As for diet, you may want to discuss the DASH diet with your doctor. It’s the considered the premier eating plan for managing hypertension and is also credited with helping to manage weight and contribute to overall health. Developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, it is based on eating vegetables, fruit, low-fat dairy and whole grains and is easy to follow. For further reading, we’ve included links to a guide to help you lower your blood pressure and another one specifically using the DASH diet to lower your blood pressure.

In Good Health,
Sep 30th, 2015
Thank you for that "how many foods have one ingredient"? Or even just 5 or fewer for a soup or something. Lately I've been making a cauliflauer and spinach cream soup (no actual cream, it's just creamed), and eating with whatever affordable grass fed meat I can find. Quick simple, and no fancy cookbook required. Much more satisfying than a mystery meat burger at a fast food joint.

However, I have noticed I am not getting the stellar results others are. There are improvements in my overall wellbeing, but weight is not leaving me. I do take medications, and possibly it's one or more of them preventing real results in the weight loss aspect.

Weight loss is never easy, but that's a misleading statement. I have plenty of willpower, and won't power. That's not what I mean. I mean, you have to find out what is stopping you, personally from losing weight. For me, it might be medications. That's my next target, minimum chemicals means, no drugs or very few. What's the point of avoiding "mono and diglycerides" if I'm going to take something that kills adrenal function so I can't lose weight and I am too tired to exercise? Seems like the next logical step for me.

Don't forget to look at the big picture for you.
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