What Is the Science Behind the Paleo Diet?

People tend to question the paleo diet without investigating its claims and rationale first, so here we do a simple explanation of the science behind the paleo diet for those curious about it. The first thing one must understand is that the diet is premised on an evolutionary concept of medicine.

paleo diet science

David Reber via Flickr cc

According to proponents of the paleo diet, humankind has undergone a series of bodily adaptations over the ages that have a great deal to do with processing the foods we consume in an efficient manner.

The last bodily adaptation was that which permitted humans in the Palaeolithic age (pre-agricultural peoples, that is) to efficiently metabolize pre-agricultural foods such as lean meats from wild animals, wild plants and vegetables, and fish.

Supporters of the paleo diet argue that no subsequent adaptations have taken place since then, making inadvisable the changes to the human diet ushered in by the dawn of agriculture.

The Science Behind the Paleolithic Diet

The Paleo Recipe BookStudies have gone into researching the validity of these claims, and there have been some researchers showing positive findings. For example, studies matching non-westernized societies’ diets to the Paleolithic diet have found that many non-westernized societies have far better health benchmarks than westernized ones: heart diseases are in far lower occurrence, ailments such as diabetes are rarer, and blood pressure levels are generally better. Granted, it is difficult to isolate causes in such studies—they are society-wide, after all—but the correlations are already indicated.

Paleo Diet Science

Intervention studies have also been conducted and are currently being carried out by various study groups measuring the changes in observational data parameters, such as weight, waistlines, blood pressure readings, and the like. Overall, the studies have suggested that there is an advantage to be found in using a paleo diet.

The reasoning behind the advantages is most likely in the advocacy for lean meats and unprocessed foods. Since many other health diets actually do recommend that people stick with such consumables for their meals owing to the various negatives associated with processed foods and high-fat foods, the paleo diet would most likely sit well with a lot of medical experts in that regard.

Many of the foods prohibited by the paleo diet are ones that are often considered “inadvisable” by most mainstream health practitioners as well, such as synthetic beverages like soda, junk food, high-sodium foods, etc.

At the moment, more research is yet being performed regarding the paleo diet’s claims. You may seek out more comprehensive literature if you feel that you need to know more before making a decision.

Further reading–
The energetic significance of cooking

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