“Paleo Diet Studies Show Benefits” There have been about a half dozen studies
published on Paleo-type diets, starting around 20 years ago. In what sounds like a reality TV show,
10 diabetic Australian aborigines were dropped off in a remote
location to fend for themselves, hunting and gathering foods
like figs and crocodiles. In my video on wild game,
I showed that kangaroo meat causes a significantly smaller spike
in inflammation compared to retail meat. Of course ideally we’d eat
anti-inflammatory foods, but wild game was
significantly better, so low in fat you can design a game-based
diet with under 7% of calories from fat. Skinless chicken breast has 14 times
more fat than kangaroo meat. So you can eat curried kangaroo
with your cantaloupe and drop your cholesterol almost
as much as eating vegetarian. So, how did they do? Well, nearly anything would have
been preferable to the diet they were eating before, evidently centered
around refined carbs, soda, beer, milk, and cheap fatty meat,
but they did pretty good, significantly better blood sugar response,
thanks to a ton of weight loss, but it’s because
they were starving. They evidently couldn’t
catch enough kangaroos and so even if they were running around
in the desert for 7 weeks on 1200 calories of their original junky diet,
they may have done just as well, but we’ll never know because
there was no control group. Same problem with some
of the other Paleo studies: short, small, no control group,
but favorable results were reported. No surprise, given they cut
their saturated fat intake in half, presumably because they cut out
so much cheese, sausage, or ice cream. Same with this one.
Nine people go Paleo for 10 days. They cut their saturated fat
and salt intake in half, and their cholesterol and blood
pressure drops as one might expect. The longest Paleo study was only
3 months, until this one: 15 months— but done on pigs.
It was a Paleo pig study, but the pigs did better because they
gained less weight on the Paleo diet. Why? Because they fed the Paleo
group 20% fewer calories. The improvement in insulin
sensitivity in pigs, though, was not reproduced in people,
though there were benefits, such as improved glucose tolerance,
thanks to these dietary changes: the Paleo group ate less dairy, cereals,
oil and margarine, and more fruits and nuts with no significant change
in meat consumption. A follow-up study also failed to find
improved glucose tolerance over control, but did show other risk factor
benefits, and no wonder. Any diet cutting out dairy and doughnuts,
oil, sugar, candy, soda, beer, and salt is likely to make people
healthier and feel better. Compare these representations of
a day’s worth of food on a Paleo diet versus the standard American diet. Although it looks like there’s a tomato
peeking out behind the frosted Cheerios, the Paleo diet has lots of foods that
actually grew out of the ground. So this kind of Paleo diet
would be way better. Won’t it hurt people to tell them
to stop eating beans, though? Hardly anyone eats beans. More than 96% of Americans don’t
even reach the measly minimum recommended amount; only like
1 in 200 middle-aged American women. So telling people to stop isn’t going
to change their diet very much. I’m all for condemning the Standard
American Diet’s refined carbs, quote unquote “nonhuman mammalian
milk” and junk foods, but proscribing legumes
is a mistake. As I’ve noted before, beans,
split peas, chickpeas, and lentils may be the most important
dietary predictor of survival. Beans and whole grains are
the dietary cornerstones of the longest living
populations on Earth. Plant-based diets in general,
and legumes in particular, are a common thread among
longevity blue zones around the world. The bottom line may be that
reaching for a serving of kangaroo may be better than
a cheese Danish, but foraging for an apple might prove
to be the most therapeutic of all.