Eating foods & meals like the Caveman have been in vogue in recent times. The Paleo diet, as its been named, has been found extremely beneficial in minimizing the risks of chronic diseases which plague today’s society, due to its component of natural food intake.
The Paleolithic Diet also called the “Stone-Age” or the “Caveman” diet, developed with the conception of what human ancestors or the stone-age man would be consuming, before the initiation of agriculture & livestock farming as their occupation.
Studies on this diet have been carried out on & off for the past century, only upto the last few decades has it been followed on a large scale by the general populace. The Paleo diet became popular after the comparative study of a Swedish doctor came to light in the 1990’s. Its findings showed the absence of prevalence of any chronic diseases among the natives living in Kitawa Islands. Their eating food habits were studied and compared with the contemporary, modern eating habits of the Swedish population.
The diet of the natives were devoid of any processed foods and comprised mainly of foods easily available to them through nature.
The composition of the Paleo diet roughly comprises of 45% of carbohydrates, 34% proteins & nearly 21% of fats. This composition has varied over the years, customizing it for the use of the urban, Western man. They are not the same as that of the natives and has a wide difference from their diet composition.
The foods allowed in this type of diet are naturally & locally grown fruits, vegetables, berries, nuts & seeds, fish, wild meat, tubers, coconut oil, olive oil.
Foods excluded are dairy products, milk, cereals, & cereal products, legumes, beans, refined vegetable oils, refined & processed foods, refined sugar & candy bars, beer, soft drinks.
Benefits for Type-2 Diabetics
One research which studied the effect of following the Paleo diet on type- 2 diabetes found significant results.
This study showed significant reduction in the mean HbA1C levels, diastolic blood pressure, fasting blood glucose levels, body weight, body mass index and waist circumference. There was also improved insulin sensitivity, decreased fasting insulin.
This study was carried out using a small subject size, hence more clinical trials are needed to firmly establish the benefits of paleo diet on diabetes management.
Benefits for Cardiovascular Disease
As cardiovascular benefits, the paleo diet showed significant reduction in total cholesterol, triglycerides, low density lipoproteins in the serum. There was improvement in high density cholesterol as well. Another animal study also showed reduced serum CRP levels and improved blood pressure. There was improved arterial distensibility as well.
All the above factors have proved extremely beneficial for decreasing the risk of chronic cardiovascular diseases.
Word Of Caution
Elimination of whole food groups can be a cause of concern since there is associated deficiency of essential vitamins & minerals such as calcium, Vitamin D, phosphorus, Vitamin B complex from grains, dairy & legumes on long term compliance to this kind of diet.
The aforementioned nutrients need to be supplemented well in this diet.
Klonoff.D (2009) The Beneficial Effects of a Paleolithic Diet on Type 2 Diabetes and Other Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease. Journal of Diabetes Science & Technology, 3(6): 1229–1232.
Lindeberg. S (2005) Palaeolithic diet (‘‘stone age’’ diet). Scandinavian Journal of Nutrition; 49 (2): 75 /77