It’s time to leave the Paleo Diet in the past

Paleo Diet urges to imitate our prehistoric ancestors’ food choices, In practice, this means avoiding dairy products, grains, pulses, and processed sugar, and instead consuming vegetables, fruits, nuts, pasture-raised meat, and wild-caught seafood.

Proponents of the Paleo diet argue that eating this way will help us lose weight and reduce our risk of chronic diseases.

Paleo diet may have roots discovered in the 1950sBut the credit for its current popularity goes to a book by Lorraine Corden The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Stay Healthy by Eating the Food You Were Designed to EatThe first edition of which was released in 2001.

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In the 22 years since the publication of Corden’s book, the Paleo diet has been adopted by several million people and a multi billion dollar industry has been developed in relation to, including premium priced foods and an authentication scheme.

Diet health claims

While the Paleo diet has many adherents, clinical research has yet to confirm its purported health benefits.

To begin with, it does not outperform traditional recommended diets as a means of reducing weight in the medium to long term. Only one has been published. multi year study A study evaluating the effect of the paleo diet on weight loss found that following the paleo diet was no more effective than following the official rules of the Nordic countries. nutritional recommendations Two years later.

It’s a similar story with claims made about the Paleo diet’s effects on chronic diseases. For example, a recent reviews found that studies examining the effects of the paleo diet on type 2 diabetes have been “inconclusive”.

Similarly, the author of a 2020 study reported that following a Paleo diet resulted in an abundance of gut bacteria that produce a chemical linked to heart disease, which is at odds with claims that the Paleo diet will reduce the likelihood of experiencing chronic diseases.

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Why are the health benefits claimed for the Paleo diet not supported by clinical research? As evolutionary anthropologists, we think the problem is that the Paleo diet is based on a flawed premise and flawed data, and we will then try to show why our research has led us to this conclusion.

a flawed premise

The idea underlying the Paleo diet is that running Increase in obesity and related diseases Many countries result in a mismatch between the foods we eat and the foods developed for our species to consume.

This mismatch, so goes the argument, is the result of too little time since agriculture appeared 12,000 years ago for evolution to adapt our species to cope with high-carbohydrate, low-protein diets or to process domesticated food. Has gone. ,

This argument seems reasonable because there is an assumption that evolution is a very slow process. However, this isn’t really supported by research on genes related to diet.

but work lactase persistence – the continued ability to produce the enzyme lactase as an adult – reflects this. Lactase enables us to digest the milk sugar lactose, so lactase persistence is useful for diets involving dairy products. Lactase persistence is found in only a few regions, one of which is Europe. ancient dna research indicates that the persistence of lactase in Europe is less than 5,000 years old.

Similarly, a Analysis Genetic data from African populations published last year found evidence of recent adaptation in a family of genes linked to alcohol metabolism. In this case, natural selection operated within the last 2,000 years.

This evidence shows that the discordant argument for adopting the Paleo diet is not supported by genetic studies. Such studies suggest that evolution can produce dietary adaptations in the very short time periods after agriculture first appeared.

bad data

There is also a problem with the Paleo diet’s recommendations regarding the contribution of the three macronutrients — protein, carbohydrates and fat — to a person’s diet.

According to the current version of the Paleo diet, we should aim for a diet consisting of 19–35% protein, 22–40% carbohydrate, and 28–58% fat by energy. This makes the Paleo diet lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein than traditional recommended diets, such as those promoted by health canada and the United States Department of Agriculture.

The macronutrient ranges recommended by the Paleo diet are based on Study Macronutrient percentage estimates for over 200 hunter-gatherer groups since 2000. however, recently We found that there is a problem with this study.

The problem lies in the macronutrient values ​​the researchers use for plant foods. While he employed several sets of macronutrient values ​​for animal foods, he used only one set of macronutrient values ​​for plant foods. They derived the plant data from an analysis of foods traditionally consumed by Indigenous Australians.

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In our study, we evaluated the implications of this decision with two plant macronutrient datasets, both of which contained values ​​for plants consumed by hunter-gatherers from several continents.

Using multi-continent plant data produced significantly different macronutrient estimates. These in turn produce macronutrient ranges that are wider than those recommended by the Paleo diet. The ranges we’ve calculated are 14-35% protein, 21-55% carbohydrate and 12-58% fat by energy.

These ranges are recommended by Health Canada (10–35% protein, 45–65% carbohydrate and 20–35% fat) and the United States Department of Agriculture (10–30% protein, 45–65% carbohydrate and 25–35%). categories overlap. % Fat).

The macronutrient range of hunter-gatherer diets overlaps the macronutrient range approved by the government, casting doubt on the idea that the paleo diet is healthier than conventionally recommended diets.

It’s Time to Leave the Paleo Diet in the Past

Given that the rationale for adopting the Paleo diet is not supported by available scientific research, and its macronutrient recommendations are not scientifically robust, we suggest, not surprisingly, that the diet’s purported health benefits have not been scientifically validated. Not supported by studies.

The Paleo diet has been a worthwhile experiment, but at this point it looks like its adherents are wasting money. Traditional, government-recommended diets provide comparable results lower prices, In our view, it’s time to leave the Paleo diet a thing of the past.

Mark Collard is the Canada Research Chair in Human Evolutionary Studies and Professor of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University. Amalia Raffet is a PhD student in Archaeology, Simon Fraser University. This article is republished from Conversation,


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