Low Oxalate Paleo: Part Two
The Research Behind the Paleo Diet
The idea of following a diet based on the eating habits of our Paleolithic predecessors is not a new one. William Banting, for example, a coffin maker from 19th century London, who having been obese, losing his sight and hearing, and suffering from many aches and pains, published a booklet outlining the success he had losing a large amount of weight and re-gaining his health by following a doctor-supervised diet. Primarily consisting of meat, vegetables and fruits, and 2-3 ounces of dry toast per day, the Banting diet was so popular that the expression "banting" became synonymous with dieting. The only thing non-Paleo about his diet was the small amount of toast he ate, and the fact that he drank claret (a dry red wine) and grog (without added sugar) regularly. Overall, it is a tolerably Paleo diet.
In 1953, Roger MacDougall, a British playwright was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. He lost his eyesight, the ability to use his legs and hands, and even his voice, but by 1975 all of the symptoms of his disease had gone into remission. He firmly believed that he had cured himself of MS by following a very strict diet that he had based on the diet of hunter gatherers. The diet is a Paleolithic way of eating which excludes gluten, cow's milk, and sugar. He also consumed low saturated fats, high unsaturated fats, and a variety of vitamin supplements.
Most recently, in 2007 after many years of research on the subject, Staffan Lindeberg, a scientist with Lund University in Sweden published the first controlled clinical study that compared a Mediterranean-Style diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy (considered to be generally healthy for diabetes control and prevention of heart disease) and a Paleolithic diet of lean meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Most of the patients in the study had overt Type 2 Diabetes; all of them had increased blood sugar after carbohydrate intake. The most notable result of the 12 week study was that in the Paleo group the blood sugar rise in response to carbohydrate intake was down 26%, but in the Mediterranean group it was only down 7%. The improved tolerance in the Paleo group could not be attributed to more weight loss in that group; although the waist circumference was slightly less, the research group concluded that it must be attributed to something more than just caloric intake and weight loss.
Seeing these examples of a Paleo-style diet all serving to "cure" different ailments is intriguing and bears further study. As Staffan Lindeberg mentions in one of his articles on the Paleo diet, the Paleo diet is not necessarily a low carbohydrate diet, in fact in some cases it can be up to 70% carbohydrate, and while it is usually a high protein diet, it does not exchange or replace vegetables with meat; both are included. It is in fact a balanced diet except perhaps in the case of calcium which can easily be supplemented. And most importantly, it is not a weight loss program primarily, it is "a theoretical template for health promotion." (Lindeberg , 76)
Banting, William. "A Letter on Corpulence" LowCarbing.Com.http://www.supermarketguru.com/Downloads/Banting.pdf.
MacDougall, Roger. "My Fight Against Multiple Sclerosis" Direct-MS. http://www.direct-ms.org/rogermcdougall.html.
Lindeberg, Staffan. "Paleolithic Diet (‘stone age' diet)."Scandinavian Journal of Nutrition 49 (2) 2005: 75-77.
Lindeberg, S, Jönsson, T, Granfeldt, Y, Borgstrand, E, Soffman, J, Sjöström, K, and Ahrén, B. A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease.Diabetologia, 2007; In Press: http://www.springerlink.com/content/h7628r66r0552222