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Thursday December 10th, 2009

paleo-dietHow Long Does It Take To See Improvement When Eating Real Foods?

By Scott Kustes

I don’t think anyone really argues that consuming a diet comprised of real foods leads to exquisite health. Sure, we may dicker a bit about what’s real food and what’s not, but by and large, 90% of the recommendations are for unprocessed foods. So let’s take a look at a recent study showing the effects of short-term Paleo-style eating:

Conclusions:Even short-term consumption of a paleolithic type diet improves BP [blood pressure] and glucose tolerance, decreases insulin secretion, increases insulin sensitivity and improves lipid profiles without weight loss in healthy sedentary humans.

Now, this was a small study, only 9 individuals, all non-obese, sedentary, and healthy. But nonetheless all markers of health are showing statistically significant movement in the right direction.

Improving Health…

So what mechanisms are at work here? It’s pretty easy to see why glucose tolerance, insulin secretion, and insulin sensitivity are all improving. While I can’t find a breakdown of the macronutrients in the subjects’ diets, I’m going to assume that a move from a standard diet to a Paleo-style diet resulted in a) a lower carb intake and b) a higher quality carb intake. The carbohydrates in a Paleolithic diet are unprocessed and bring along a load of vitamins and minerals that processed grains cannot match. As Stephan at Whole Health Source has pointed out before, it’s not necessarily high carbs that promotes ill health, but the type of carbs, specifically wheat.

And lipid profiles, i.e., cholesterol? Well, those of us that don’t believe the Cholesterol Hypothesis understand that cholesterol is typically the body’s response to inflammation. If a diet or lifestyle change results in less inflammation, cholesterol should go down as there is less need for repair. And high circulating insulin and sugar are a perfect recipe for causing arterial inflammation and damage.

…In How Many Days?!?

Note that all of these improvements are already occurring only ten days after moving from the normal diet to the Paleo-style diet. That proves to me that amazing ability of the body to begin healing once it’s given the right building blocks. I’d love to see longer trials to look at long-term effects. But until then, this does add to the growing evidence that ditching the grains (or at least the improperly prepared ones) and the pasteurized/homogenized dairy in favor of meat, vegetables, fruit, and nuts improves health.

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