“We found marked improvement…after advice to follow a Paleolithic [SANE] diet compared with a healthy Western diet…The study adds to the notion that healthy diets based on whole-grain cereals and low-fat dairy products are only the second best choice in the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes.”– S. Lindeberg, University of Lund
How do we avoid this inSANEity? We need to be pragmatic and ask: Is there any way of eating that is proven to keep folks free from obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cardiovascular disease—aka the “diseases of civilization?”
Yes. We can eat the way we did before civilization. We can eat so much SANE food that we are too full for inSANE food.
Today’s Typical Diet
Government Recommended Diet
Unless our metabolism completely transformed itself in the last 0.02% of our evolutionary history—the 12,000 years since we first started farming, filling it with food that it is not designed to digest will cause a clog. University of London researcher John Yudkin notes:
“For a fairly considerable [evolutionary] alteration to occur in a population, something between 1,000 and 10,000 generations [25,000 to 250,000 years] are needed…. If there have been great changes in man’s environment that occurred in a much shorter time…there are likely to be signs that man has not fully adapted, and this will probably show itself as the presence of disease.”
More simply: We did not change, but the quality of our diet did. It is making us heavy, diabetic, and sick.
“100,000 generations of humans have been hunters and gatherers; 500 generations have been [farmers]; ten [had access to modern food processing]; and only one has been exposed [to food-ish product engineering]” – S. Boyd Eaton, Emory University
A study from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas showed that our modern diet increases nearly all the risk factors for the diseases of civilization when compared to a pre-starch and sweetener diet. Similar work at the Haimoto Clinic and Duke University Medical Center has shown a more natural diet to be the best diet available for hormonal healing. In a University of Melbourne study, middle-aged Australian hunter-gatherers started out lean and free from type 2 diabetes, then switched to a diet inspired by the government’s guidelines and became overweight and type 2 diabetic. Then they reverted back to their natural diet. In only seven weeks, the tribesmen lost an average of 16.5 pounds.
The list of clinical studies proving the same results goes on. But the bottom line is, as S. Boyd Eaton from Emory University tells us:
“Following a diet comparable to the one that humans were genetically adapted to should postpone, mitigate, and in many cases prevent altogether, a host of diseases that debilitate us.”
Enjoy the new Smarter Science of Slim podcast on iTunes
Trailer: Jonathan Bailor’s Smarter Science of Slim
- Boyd, S., Melvin Konner, Marjorie Shostak, and M.D. Eaton. The Paleolithic Prescription: A Program of Diet & Exercise and a Design for Living. New York: HarperCollins, 1989. Print.
- Cordain L, Eaton SB, Sebastian A, Mann N, Lindeberg S, Watkins BA, O’Keefe JH, Brand-Miller J. Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Feb;81(2):341-54. Review. PubMed PMID: 15699220.
- Cordain, Loren. The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Food You Were Designed to Eat. New Ed ed. New York, NY: Wiley, 2002. Print.
- Diamond, Jared M.. Guns, germs, and steel: The fates of human societies. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1998. Print.
- Ebbesson SO, Schraer CD, Risica PM, et al. Diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance in three Alaskan Eskimo populations: The Alaska-Siberia Project. Diabetes Care. 1998;21:563-569.
- Frassetto LA, Schloetter M, Mietus-Synder M, Morris RC, Jr., Sebastian A: Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet. Eur J Clin Nutr 2009.
- Garg A, Bantle JP, Henry RR, Coulston AM, Griver KA, Raatz SK, Brinkley L, Chen YD, Grundy SM, Huet BA, et al. Effects of varying carbohydrate content of diet in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. JAMA. 1994 May 11;271(18):1421-8. PubMed PMID: 7848401.
- Gutierrez M, Akhavan M, Jovanovic L, Peterson CM. Utility of a short-term 25% carbohydrate diet on improving glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Am Coll Nutr. 1998 Dec;17(6):595-600. PubMed PMID: 9853539.
- Haimoto H, Sasakabe T, Wakai K, Umegaki H. Effects of a low-carbohydrate diet on glycemic control in outpatients with severe type 2 diabetes. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2009 May 6;6:21. PubMed PMID: 19419563; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2690585.
- Jönsson T, Granfeldt Y, Ahrén B, Branell UC, Pålsson G, Hansson A, Söderström M, Lindeberg S. Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: a randomized cross-over pilot study. Cardiovasc Diabetol. 2009;8:35
- Lindeberg S, Jonsson T, Granfeldt Y, Borgstrand E, Soffman J, Sjostrom K, Ahren B: A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease. Diabetologia 2007, 50(9):1795-1807.
- O’Dea K. Marked improvement in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in diabetic Australian aborigines after temporary reversion to traditional lifestyle. Diabetes. 1984 Jun;33(6):596-603. PubMed PMID: 6373464.
- O’Keefe JH Jr, Cordain L. Cardiovascular disease resulting from a diet and lifestyle at odds with our Paleolithic genome: how to become a 21st-century hunter-gatherer. Mayo Clin Proc 2004 Jan;79(1):101-8.
- Osterdahl M, Kocturk T, Koochek A, Wandell PE: Effects of a short-term intervention with a paleolithic diet in healthy volunteers. Eur J Clin Nutr 2008, 62(5):682-685.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2007. Nutrient Intakes from Food: Mean Amounts and Percentages of Calories from Protein, Carbohydrate, Fat, and Alcohol, One Day, 2003-2004. Available: www.ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/fsrg.
- Westman EC, Yancy WS Jr, Mavropoulos JC, Marquart M, McDuffie JR. The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2008 Dec 19;5:36. PubMed PMID: 19099589; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2633336.Daniel M, Rowley KG, McDermott R, Mylvaganam A, O’Dea K. Diabetes incidence in an Australian aboriginal population: an 8-year follow-up study. Diabetes Care. 1999;22:1993-1998.
- Yudkin, John. Sweet and Dangerous. Washington D.C.: Natl Health Federation, 1978. Print.