The Paleolithic diet, Paleo diet, caveman diet, or stone-age diet is a modern diet with a number of health benefits.
A paleo diet limits foods that became common when farming emerged about 10,000 years ago.
These foods include dairy products, legumes and grains.
The diet is designed to resemble what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate thousands of years ago.
Although it’s impossible to know exactly what ancient humans ate in different parts of the world, researchers believe their diets consisted of whole foods.
Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean meats, fish and oils are all part of what to include in the paleo diet.
Paleo diet for weight loss
One research paper compared the paleo diet to the Mediterranean diet, with the researchers focusing on glucose tolerance, insulin levels, weight and waist circumference.
With regard to weight loss, scientists found that participants lost around five kilograms over 12 weeks on the paleo diet.
In contrast, those on the Mediterranean diet lost just under four kilograms during the same 12-week period.
Reduced diabetes risk
In the same study, researchers also investigated to what degree the paleo diet could affect glucose tolerance, which is a marker for insulin resistance and diabetes.
In this regard the paleo performed well compared to the Mediterranean as only the former saw an improvement in glucose tolerance.
The conclusion from this study was that the paleo diet was useful at helping someone lose weight and increase their glucose tolerance.
Reduced bowel cancer risk
US researchers from Emory University in Atlanta studied the dietary habits of 2,301 men and women aged between 30 and 74.
Participants were ranked according to how ‘Paleolithic’ their diet was.
They were also tested for a Mediterranean eating pattern, which allows for moderate consumption of milk, yoghurt, grains and alcohol.
Then the dietary data was set against their medical records.
In all, 564 developed a colorectal adenoma – a benign tumour which is a precursor to bowel cancer.
But for women with the most Paleolithic regime, the risk of developing the tumour fell by 29%, and those who ate Mediterranean diets were 26% less at risk.
For men, these diets had an even greater effect, with the odds slashed by 51 and 42% respectively.
The aim of a paleo diet is to return to a way of eating that’s more like what early humans ate.
The diet’s reasoning is that the human body is genetically mismatched to the modern diet that emerged with farming practices – an idea known as the discordance hypothesis.
By eating more similarly to how our ancient ancestors ate, age-related diseases and weight gain is thought to be reduced.