Your Paleo Primer
Better Nutrition|April 2021
Done well, the paleo diet is one of the cleanest plans around. Here's how to make it work for you.
By Lisa Turner

It may be trendy today, but the general concept behind the Paleo diet dates back to the 1970s, when gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin noted that our huntergatherer ancestors—who subsisted on lean meat, leafy greens, nuts, and berries—knew what they were doing.

Also known as the Caveman or Stone age Diet, Paleo is based on the presumed diet of our ancestors in the Paleolithic era, essentially foods that could be found by hunting and gathering. When farming practices began, grains, legumes, and dairy quickly became staples of the human diet. But as the Paleo theory goes, our bodies aren’t designed to eat foods that emerged from farming practices, and this genetic mismatch contributes to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other modern illnesses. Many studies support these claims. Some highlights:

Weight loss. By eliminating specific foods, the Paleo diet naturally lessens cravings and makes losing weight easier. It’s high in protein and (ideally) fiberrich vegetables, which impact hormones linked with appetite and promote feelings of fullness. Many studies suggest that going Paleo results in (often significant) weight loss, lower body fat, and reduced waist circumference.

In some research, a Paleostyle diet improved glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, and lipid profiles better than the Mediterranean diet.

Heart health. Several studies show that a Paleo diet can increase beneficial HDL cholesterol levels, lower harmful LDL and triglyceride levels, and decrease blood pressure—in some cases, better than other heart-healthy diets that replace saturated fat with carbs and reduce total fat intake.

Diabetes and insulin sensitivity. Studies show the beneficial eff ects of a Paleo plan on blood sugar, insulin resistance, and diabetes control. In some research, a Paleostyle diet improved glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, and lipid profiles better than the Mediterranean diet.

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