A Paleolithic or caveman diet mimics the diet available to humans prior to the advent of agriculture, about 2.5 million years ago. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the foods available to humans at that time were mostly wild animal lean meats, nuts, eggs, fish, wild fruits, and uncultivated plant produce such as vegetables, roots and tubers. The modern version of this diet excludes dairy products, salt, processed oils, processed grains, and refined sugar. The health benefits of adopting such a diet include:
Better Diabetes Management Outcomes
A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a Paleo diet lowers blood pressure substantially, enhances arterial distensibility, improves glucose tolerance, enhances insulin sensitivity, and improves blood lipid profile without an individual having to shed excess weight. Besides this, research published in the journal Diabetes found that a Paleolithic lifestyle caused a 10% weight loss in participants. Moreover, study subjects had healthier blood glucose levels. Another study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that even adopting a hunter-gatherer diet for a short period leads to measurable improvements in blood lipid profile and glucose levels for people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Better Cardiovascular Health
Research published in the Journal Cardiovascular Diabetology shows that a Paleo diet enhances cardiovascular health by suppressing known risk factors including excess body fat and unhealthy BMI. What’s more, it lowers systolic blood pressure while maintaining triglyceride, diastolic blood pressure, and hemoglobin A1c levels within a healthy range. An article published by the Harvard Medical School says whole grain and legume-rich diets lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. More specifically, a hunter-gatherer diet improves heart health by normalizing triglycerides (fat carrying elements found in the bloodstream) levels and ramping up good cholesterol (HDL) levels at the same time.
A typical Paleo diet excludes calorie-rich but nutrient-deficient foods and beverages that are associated with weight gain and obesity. In fact, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) publication postulates that the Paleolithic diet is weight-friendly because it promotes weight loss and suppresses hunger pangs due to the high amount of fiber and water found in fresh fruits and vegetables. This means individuals who adopt this diet remain sated for longer than peers who follow other diets. More importantly, a caveman diet excludes salt and fat-rich foods that are known to cause unhealthy weight gain, the Mayo Clinic explains.
Word of Caution
In spite of the benefits discussed above, a hunter-gatherer diet has one major drawback: calcium deficiency. If left unresolved, calcium deficiency could cause low bone mass and ultimately lead to bone-related health complications such as osteoporosis. For this reason, you should eat foods rich in vitamins D, A and K2 in order to improve your bone health. Taking calcium supplements regularly will also help keep your bones healthy and strong. More importantly, you should consult your doctor or a trained dietitian/health expert before adopting this diet if you have already been diagnosed with any of the health conditions mentioned in this article.
A Paleolithic lifestyle is beneficial because scientific studies have shown that it improves cardiovascular health, enhances diabetes management/treatment outcomes, and makes weight management easier. Overall, a Paleo diet can improve a person’s productivity at the workplace. However, people who adopt this diet should consume adequate amounts of vitamins D, A and K2 as well as calcium supplements in order to prevent bone loss.