Paleolithic Diet Better Than Mediterranean Diet?

By Jim F

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A controlled study of Type 2 diabetics shows that a “stone-age” or paleolithic diet is better at controlling symptoms than a Mediterranean diet.

The main result was that the blood sugar rise in response to carbohydrate intake was markedly lower after 12 weeks in the Paleolithic group (-26%), while it barely changed in the Mediterranean group (-7%). At the end of the study, all patients in the Paleolithic group had normal blood glucose. (via ScienceDaily)

A paleo-diet (also known as a caveman diet) consists of lean meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, root vegetables and nuts. Grains and dairy are to be avoided.

A Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, includes grains and dairy.

The lead researcher (Staffan Lindeberg, Lund University, Sweden) has been researching traditional dietary habits among Papua New Guineans for some years.

28 Comments

  1. John Stevens

    well has far has i remember and experience in my healthy life today I have proven that Mediterranean Diet has gained its popularity since the 20th century and known to be the modern nutritional recommendation patterned from the cuisines of Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Italy, Greece and parts of Middle East.

    Reply
  2. SuzieDsouza

    No doubt our ancestors were much more stronger and healthier than today’s generation, and this was all because of their diet habit. It is not possible for us to get that quality food or either reach to its 25% level. Also keeping in mind the digestive system on modern ERA population, instead of health we are going to be more sick. Only thing can be done is to improve the food quality and eat healthy and home cooked food.
    http://www.whatisguide.net/0103-paleolithic-diet.html

    Reply
  3. isaac

    Glucose is just one biomarker, albeit a useful one but definitely not the end all. So far, the med diet is the only diet wih solid and good clinical data on HARD endpoints like death. That’s the one that matters after all.

    Reply
  4. Emily

    I agree with you that the human body is very versatile and can survive on a variety of different foods. This does not mean though that all these different foods are the best choices for our bodies. There is a book called “The Wellness Project: A Rocket Scientist’s Guide to Health” by Roy Mankovitz that is completely focused around this fact.
    The author has created a diet (a diet he built from years of research of our paleolithic ancestors) and detoxification plan. This Wellness Plan is based on the fact that yes, people can eat a variety of foods, but his theory is that this is the one diet that will work universally for all humans. He believes that since people all evolved from the same place this single diet will work for everyone because if you trace it back to our ancestors, we all ate the same foods.
    It is a very wonderful book and everything in it is backed with extensive research. If you are interested in paleolithic diets at all, I suggest this book for all the in-depth details.

    Reply
  5. Sue

    I always wondered how Europeans stayed so thin when they ate all that rich food and I figured it out. Their food isn’t processed, they barely eat carbohydrates and they ride bikes everywhere. They even eat roasted meats and cheese for breakfast.

    Reply
  6. ER

    If I am correct, the Atkins diet encourages foods that are high in fat, such as butter and bacon. The paleo diet does not allow processed foods such as butter or meats that are high in fat. Thus the paleo diet may be similar to the atkins diet in that it encourages high protein/ low carb intake relative to the western diet; however it is more refined and better for your cariovascular system. The paleo diet also places increased importance on the glycemic index of the foods you ingest, and while I am not all that familiar with the atkins diet, I do not believe it includes this facet of nutrition.

    Reply
  7. agilaha

    I know that the anicent people ate for their bodies, meaning that the primitive diet works, I was reared on healthy, homegrown, gathered or hunted food, if we couldn’t raise it grow it or hunt it we didn’t eat it, after turning to a more modern diet, my cholesterol jumped to 300 plus, after getting back on my ancestral diet, my cholesterol is now under 200, so much for better food eh?

    Reply
  8. GIGI

    Love this diet! I live by this diet too! Except I dont eat nuts or seeds…except flax seed oil. And I only eat grass-fed red meat.

    Reply
  9. Josie!

    Isn’t that EXACTLY the same diet that bears eat, minus honey? Bears are enormous.

    Reply
  10. Alex

    This is a great weight loss diet. There are lots of logic. Our body was design to be in a way since thousands of years.

    With that design of body, we are able to live in jungle where vegetables, fruits, fish and lean meats are abundance. It’s easier to get and find those food in that environment.

    When we start to have machines and start to change the environment such as planting and grow “meats” at home, our food balance is lost.

    Our body is not design to have high sugar, high calories and high fats food. We became unhealthy and gain lots of weight.

    So the best way to cure sickness or lose weight is always going back to the past which is take more vegetables, fruits and fish …

    Thanks for contributing these post. It’s a very good practice to lose weight and be healthy.

    Reply
  11. Foodoo

    If you want to learn more about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and other healthy traditional diets, I recommend you visit the Oldways Preservation Trust website (http://www.oldwayspt.org) and MediterrAsian.com (http://www.mediterrasian.com).

    Reply
  12. Jim

    You are right that all such studies must be received within the context of all other research to date.

    Great comments.

    Reply
  13. Mike

    Foodoo said:
    […]Dozens of meticulously conducted studies have also found that the Mediterranean diet substantially reduces the risk of developing heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancers of the breast, prostate and colon.
    A traditional Mediterranean diet is also associated with low rates of obesity and long life spans.
    But forget about all of the health benefits — one of the biggest benefits is that the food is highly enjoyable, so it makes this way of eating easy to stick to over the long term.

    Brilliant post Foodoo! This sums things up nicely and puts a big picture perspective on the issue. The mediterranean way of life reduces the risk of heart disease by 30% + is easier to stick with. Insulin sensitivity and glucose handling are just one piece of a much larger pie.

    Also keep in mind that this was a small study (n-29). I’d like to see a larger cohort before I make any conclusions and comparisons.

    Reply
  14. Regina W

    frances said:
    I wonder why this type of diet is nearly opposite of what the American Diabetes Association has to offer. […]

    Maybe because farmers of whole foods (berries, nuts, seeds, produce, etc.) aren’t their main sponsors (money contributors) like food manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies are?

    Reply
  15. frances

    I wonder why this type of diet is nearly opposite of what the American Diabetes Association has to offer.

    Reply
  16. Spectra

    Erica said:
    Ex. People from Northern European ancestry will find that whatever their ancestors learned to survive on 3000-5000 years ago will probably be healthiest, people from pacific island ancestry will find the same thing, people from Native American Ancestry will be told to eat Maize and Buffalo and plants native to the USofA, and people from the Mediterranean… Mediterranean diets… etc etc. Ethnic/Genetic Paleolithic… we may even find that it explains food intolerances. Etc.[…]

    Yeah, that’s sort of true, but the reason that Northern Europeans ate berries and reindeer and survived was because that’s what was around. The human body is very versatile and can survive and thrive on a HUGE variety of different foods. If you took a Native American and put them in a different climate and educated them about what was edible there, I’m sure they’d figure out a way to survive too. I think the main point of this paleolithic thing is to avoid processed foods and go back to eating like people did a long time ago. You don’t need a special diet book to tell you that.

    Reply
  17. Erica

    Additionally its the amount that people like to burn their meat and eat it well done that can cause carcinogens. Burnt anything isn’t particularly good for you. Ask the RAW-ies. Honestly I think science will find that the ideal diet has more to do with individual makeup and INDIVIDUAL heredity. Ex. People from Northern European ancestry will find that whatever their ancestors learned to survive on 3000-5000 years ago will probably be healthiest, people from pacific island ancestry will find the same thing, people from Native American Ancestry will be told to eat Maize and Buffalo and plants native to the USofA, and people from the Mediterranean… Mediterranean diets… etc etc. Ethnic/Genetic Paleolithic… we may even find that it explains food intolerances. Etc.

    Reply
  18. Foodoo

    Let’s put some things into perspective. The Mediterranean diet might not have been as effective at lowering blood sugars, but it still helped lower them by 7 percent — which certainly isn’t a bad thing.

    But what has not been discussed is the fact that research has found that the Mediterranean diet is very effective at preventing type 2 diabetes from developing in the first place.

    Dozens of meticulously conducted studies have also found that the Mediterranean diet substantially reduces the risk of developing heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancers of the breast, prostate and colon.
    A traditional Mediterranean diet is also associated with low rates of obesity and long life spans.

    But forget about all of the health benefits — one of the biggest benefits is that the food is highly enjoyable, so it makes this way of eating easy to stick to over the long term.

    Reply
  19. Weight Loss Help

    Very good post. The key differences are that the Paleolithic diet uses foods in their raw form and the carbohydrates are higher in fiber content.

    Many studies for example, support the idea that fiber is more important than the glycemic index of food, in reducing symptoms of diabetes such as glucose intolerance.

    Reply
  20. Kailash

    corafan said:
    The Paleo Diet is not the same as Atkins. (Paleo allows more carbs, and generally puts more emphasis on micronutrients and less on macronutrients than Atkins.)[…]

    Good post.

    Reply
  21. Mark

    I blog about this issue in depth. Recommended:
    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/category/primal-health/

    Cheers! There’s nothing too “wacky” about this diet – to me it’s not really a diet, but simply eating in step with how we’re genetically suited.

    Reply
  22. 60 in 3

    So to summarize, eat unprocessed foods in moderation. Sounds like a great idea. 🙂

    Gal

    Reply
  23. corafan

    The Paleo Diet is not the same as Atkins. (Paleo allows more carbs, and generally puts more emphasis on micronutrients and less on macronutrients than Atkins.)

    Also, while Loren Cordain’s version of the Paleo diet emphasizes “lean meats,” Cordain may well be wrong about what our Stone Age ancestors actually ate. Others contend that hunter-gatherers would have preferentially eaten the fattiest parts of the animal (e.g., the brain and bone marrow), and that overall fat intake was much higher than Cordain recommends.

    Also, ketosis isn’t harmful, and red meat in the form of wild game doesn’t cause cancer (although supermarket beef raised on corn and pumped full of hormones may).

    Reply
  24. Heather

    Yes, yes, it’s better for me… but we’re missing a very important point here… It means I have to avoid dairy and grains. 😉

    I <3 my cottage cheese. I don't care. 🙂

    Reply
  25. Never teh Bride

    Eat natural foods of the type you could conceivable forage or hunt for yourself? Seems pretty straightforward to me!

    Reply
  26. mgan9311

    The Paleolithic Diet doesn’t include loads of butter and high fat meats or excessive amounts of meat, which is, by the way, what most of the people who are on the Atkins Diet tend to eat, instead of the lean meats and fish and butter free veggies and red meat in moderate amounts like you are supposed to.

    You can claim Atkins works all you want to, however, the long term effects aren’t so good. The ketosis stage of the Atkins diet is very, very harmful to your body. And the amount of red meat people consume on this diet is dangerous. Too much red meat can cause cancer in case you didn’t know, and so can too much dairy. I do not recommend the Atkins diet because of these reasons.

    The Paleolithic Diet is not the Atkins diet. Atkins requires excessive meat. Paleotithic requires moderation…because in the stone age, most people didn’t get to eat their meat every day.

    Reply
  27. Lose Weight With Me

    This is the basic diet I used to lose over 60 pounds. I have found it very effective.

    Brian

    Reply
  28. mimi

    you can call that diet anything you want its still the Atkins diet and Dr.A said it would straighten out your diabetes 30 yrs ago..

    Reply