Sunday, September 21, 2014

Are Paleo diets healthier? Evidence from hunter gatherers

What current health fad do I wish people would ignore?

Stone-age diets. ...

Our image of a carnivorous cave man with blood vessels free of plaques, low cholesterol levels and healthy hearts and brains may be wishful thinking. A postmortem study of 137 mummies from four different premodern cultures, found that atherosclerosis rates in hunter-gatherers was not lower than in farmers. For example, three of five (60%) mummies from an Aleutian hunter gather clan had atherosclerosis, by their 40s. ...

Of course, some half a dozen studies of the Paleo diet have noted benefits– e.g. a study of 10 full blooded diabetic Aborigines showed that temporary reversion to a hunter lifestyle resulted in improvements in glucose and weight. But since these were small studies of 10-15 subjects each that lasted only a few weeks, they are not generalizable. Many diets (including the vegetarian Rice Diet) have shown equally robust short-term benefits–the Achilles’ heel is the failure to show long-term benefits. And there is little evidence that a Paleo diet is any better than simply just eating fewer calories.
--Dr. Murali Doraiswamy, WSJ, on the good old days perhaps not being so good