Whether it’s the holier than thou douchebaggery that goes with the Paleo diet, or the fact that the life expectancy of the Paleolithic people was 35 years for men and 30 years for women, the Paleo diet does not sit well with me. So does the Paleo diet really work? Or have the cavemen pulled off one of the greatest marketing campaigns in history?
Before I answer that, let me give you basic outline of the Paleo diet – just in case you’ve been living under a rock (zing)! The diet is high in protein from meats and nuts, high in fibre from sources other than grains and limits carbohydrates by focusing on non-starchy vegetables. Dairy, grains, processed oils, sugars and salts are strictly off limits with this diet. Unsure whether it’s Paleo? Well if it’s raw and overpriced, it probably is (sorry that was mean).
Having spent the last couple of paragraphs bagging Paleo, what does the science actually say? A review study found that there is weak evidence to support the Paleo diet in the prevention and treatment of various lifestyle disease and no evidence against the diet in preventing and treating such diseases (1). Looking positive so far, Paleolithics – drat! Another study, although conducted on a small number of people, found that the Paleo diet improves glucose control and blood lipid (fat) levels in diabetics, more so than a diet designed specifically for diabetics (2). Another, better quality study, found that the Paleolithic diet was more effective than a diet of equivalent calories that met Dutch Healthy Eating guidelines for reducing blood pressure, cholesterol and fat levels (3).
Well, what does this all tell us? While the science of the studies so far is by no means awesome, it looks as if the Paleo diet is at least slightly effective at maintaining general health and preventing disease. You win this round, cavepeople!
Is it healthful?
Maybe if the paleolithic people had a better healthcare system they would have lived to 1000. Sadly, the Paleo diet appears to work.
Our verdict: Moderately healthful!
I hope this has been healthful.