As many of you are well aware, the paleo diet is very near and dear to my heart. I’m not a hard-core paleo person, however, and tend to advocate a similar approach to Chris Kresser. I think that there is much to be learned from the paleo world, and the paleo diet is a great starting point for most people. I don’t believe that we all need to be 100% grain-free, nor do we all have to avoid lectins like the plague, but the amount and ways in which we can deviate from this basic blueprint are dictated by our individual health, genetics, and environment.
There was a new study recently in which researchers compared metabolic syndrome markets in small groups on the paleo diet and the Dutch healthy diet (similar to the Mediterranean diet). Here are my thoughts on that study.
Over the course of the study, the participants on the paleo diet saw change in their metabolic syndrome markers while those on the Dutch diet did not.
The study only followed participants for two weeks. While this was long enough to see some change, I would have liked to see the study be conducted for much, much longer (a year or more would be ideal).
The authors didn’t go into enough detail when explaining the diets they prescribed. Specifically in the paleo group, I would want to know the following:
- The authors say that “lean meats” were allowed. Does this mean that red meats and other meats were not allowed? Were organ meats consumed?
- Seafood was not mentioned on way or another. Was is included? Excluded?
- Were “paleo” sweets and treats limited, or were they fully open-game?
- Were “paleo” carbohydrate dishes monitored (potatoes, paleo breads, etc)?
- Was the quality of the meat and eggs consumed monitored or specified? Were the participants eating normal grocery store meats, or grass fed meats and fresh eggs?
- Were participants allowed to go “meat crazy” (and bacon-crazy), as many in the paleo world do, or was more of an emphasis placed on vegetables? Many of the brightest minds in the paleo world would agree that the later is favorable.
Thoughts for the future of paleo research:
While there is a hand full of studies on the paleo diet (read here, here, and here), most have been very small and short. The obvious way to improve would be to do longer, bigger studies.
I think we can do even better than that, though. I would personally love to see a study comparing two variations of the paleo diet with other diets. I would call those variations the “common paleo diet” and the “ideal paleo diet”, keeping in mind that the use of the word “ideal” does not imply that this diet is the ideal diet for everybody.
As you can see, there are actually a lot of ways in which people’s execution of the paleo diet can differ, and I think that needs to be accounted for when critically evaluating the diet in research. Similarly, the same argument could be made of the vegetarian diet (below) or just about any other diet.
All that’s left is to find somebody to fund this crazy awesome research idea of mine and we’ll be good to go!
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