Health benefits of paleolithic diet
Of note, studies from Italy have documented that food processing, and possibly the production of flour, was a common practice, widespread across Europe from at least ~30,000 y ago.
According to the Evolutionary Discordance Hypothesis, deviations from diet, exercise and lifestyle patterns our hunter-gatherer ancestors are responsible in large measure for many of chronic medical ailments that characterise our Western society.
- Drs. Konner and Eaton from the Emory University state that anthropological evidence continues to indicate that ancestral human diets prevalent during our evolution were characterized by "much lower levels of refined carbohydrates and sodium, much higher levels of fiber and protein, and comparable levels of fat (primarily unsaturated fat) and cholesterol. Physical activity levels were also much higher than current levels, resulting in higher energy throughput".
- Jonsson and colleagues from Lund University have shown that paleolithic diet is superior to diabetic diet in improving glycemic control cardiovascular risk factors in patients with diabetes.
- Fruit and berries
- Plant shoots, leaves and flowers
- Meats including organ meats
* The relative proportion of different components of food in paleolithic diet is debatable. Nevertheless, paleolithic diet components currently provide only about 25% of modern calorie intake.
There may also be differences in metabolic processes and outcome when fruit as a whole is consumed along with other plant components. Most of the fructose in modern world is derived from non-natural sources such as refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup.
Studies by Lindeberg and Lundh on people from the island of Kitava in Africa still consuming paleolithic diet including high starch unaffected by modern influences, contradicts this hypothesis since no cases of cerebrovascular accidents or angina pectoris were seen in the population.
High meat content of paleolithic diet and health concerns
High fish content of paleolithic diet may in part explain beneficial effects on cholesterol and atherosclerosis. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish appear to shift lipid profile towards healthy proprtions and prevent coronary artery disease. However, seafood availability early in evolution as at best sporadic and consistent access to seafood for ancient humans occured only after they left Africa.
Another potential explanation may lie in the fact that wild meat has low fat and high omega-3 fatty acid content as compared to farmed animal meat. Same is true for wild fish as compared to farmed fish and most of fish consumed these days is farmed fish.
High consumption of seeds early in evolution and health concerns
Current human diet
- Milk and milk products
- Refined fats
- Sugar products
- Beans and pulses
Contrasting paleolithic diet and current human diet