Fad diets have always come and gone, and now the Paleo diet is having its 15 minutes of fame. Also known as the caveman diet, Paleo has its share of detractors, but a new study shows that being on the regimen for as little as eight weeks could yield significant benefits, especially for your heart.
The diet is based on foods that our hunter-gatherer ancestors are thought to have consumed: primarily fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, fish, lean meat and plant-based oils like olive oil. Out are processed foods, dairy products, potatoes, salt, refined sugar, grains, coffee and alcohol.
In a small study conducted at the University of Houston, adults were examined before and after starting the Paleo diet. The participants were noted to have had a typically “Western” diet high in saturated fats and processed foods and low in fruits and vegetables.
After eight weeks, participants had an average increase of 35 percent in levels of the molecule IL-10, which is believed to lower inflammation and protect blood vessels while lowering the risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.
Another health benefit noted was that participants lowered their calorie intake and lost weight over the eight weeks, although the researchers pointed out that weight loss was not a focus of the study.
The researchers stressed that this was a small study and more work is needed, but they said the results support other findings that suggest adopting a Paleo diet — even for a short term — can improve health or at least not have negative health implications in the areas they studied.
Perhaps we can all learn something from our ancestors about our food choices and living healthier.