Palaeolithic diet reduces the risk of lifestyle diseases
The diet of our earliest ancestors – vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, nuts and fruit – appears to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. This is concluded from a study into the impact of Palaeolithic nutrition (food eaten by humans during the Palaeolithic era), conducted by the Louis Bolk Institute among people with metabolic syndrome characteristics. Results were published this week at the website of the scientific journal Lipids in Health and Disease. The English summary is available at our website.
Set up of the Palaeolithic pilot study
The study's objective was to research whether a Palaeolithic diet would have a positive impact on human health. For the study, 34 participants were selected who had two or more metabolic syndrome characteristics (increased abdominal circumference, raised blood pressure, elevated blood glucose and/or cholesterol levels). For two weeks, participants either followed a Palaeolithic diet (consisting of vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, nuts and fruit – and without any dairy products or cereals), or a diet as prescribed by the Netherlands Nutrition Centre Foundation (which does include dairy products and cereals). Participants were placed, at random, in one of these two groups and they were not informed which was the treatment group and which the control group. Both before and after the diet period, measurements were taken of, among other things, the participants' abdominal circumference, blood pressure, glucose tolerance and cholesterol levels. This study has been a collaboration between the Louis Bolk Institute, the Wageningen University and Research Centre, the University of Groningen, the Universitat de Girona (Spain) and Scriptum.
Palaeolithic diet has positive impact on blood pressure, cholesterol and body weight
Study results indicate that a Palaeolithic diet may have a positive impact on blood pressure, cholesterol levels and insulin resistance in people with metabolic syndrome characteristics. No apparent effect was found on glucose levels. In addition, participants on the Palaeolithic diet appeared to lose some weight, despite efforts to prevent this. 'Although we did not intend participants to lose weight, this appears to be an effect of the Palaeolithic diet', concluded project leader Inge Boers, Nutrition and Health researcher at the Louis Bolk Institute. 'The feeling of satiety possibly is larger on this diet than on one that includes cereals and dairy products.' The positive effect on blood pressure and cholesterol remained valid, even according to analyses that took this weight loss into account.
Metabolic syndrome a growing problem in the Western world
The reason for this study is the strong increase in the number of people suffering from metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome leads to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and related complications. These include hypertension, abdominal obesity, hyperglycaemia and/or dyslipidaemia. Changes in diet and lifestyle may have a positive effect on all aspects of the metabolic syndrome. Since prehistoric times, genetic changes in the human body have been minimal, whereas our lifestyle and dietary habits have changed substantially, over a relatively short time.
Follow-up study among diabetes patientsThe Louis Bolk Institute now intends to set up a follow-up study to investigate the impact of a Palaeolithic diet on patients suffering from diabetes mellitus type 2.
From this week on, the scientific article is available online, from the website of Lipids in Health and Disease, http://www.lipidworld.com/content/13/1/160. The study was financed by Innovatienetwerk, the Universitat de Girona, the University of Groningen, and the Dutch Stichting Junio/Fonds voor het Hart.
The Palaeolithic diet includes vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, nuts and fruit. Dairy products and cereals are not included in the diet