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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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February 12, 2009

I’m Not Going to Say, “I Told You So”

By Mark Sisson
37 Comments

Breaking news out of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Published online at pubmed.gov comes this abstract:

Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet.

Frassetto LA, Schloetter M, Mietus-Synder M, Morris RC Jr, Sebastian A.

1Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA, USA.

Background:The contemporary American diet figures centrally in the pathogenesis of numerous chronic diseases-‘diseases of civilization’. We investigated in humans whether a diet similar to that consumed by our preagricultural hunter-gatherer ancestors (that is, a paleolithic type diet) confers health benefits.Methods:We performed an outpatient, metabolically controlled study, in nine nonobese sedentary healthy volunteers, ensuring no weight loss by daily weight. We compared the findings when the participants consumed their usual diet with those when they consumed a paleolithic type diet. The participants consumed their usual diet for 3 days, three ramp-up diets of increasing potassium and fiber for 7 days, then a paleolithic type diet comprising lean meat, fruits, vegetables and nuts, and excluding nonpaleolithic type foods, such as cereal grains, dairy or legumes, for 10 days. Outcomes included arterial blood pressure (BP); 24-h urine sodium and potassium excretion; plasma glucose and insulin areas under the curve (AUC) during a 2 h oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT); insulin sensitivity; plasma lipid concentrations; and brachial artery reactivity in response to ischemia.Results:Compared with the baseline (usual) diet, we observed (a) significant reductions in BP associated with improved arterial distensibility (-3.1+/-2.9, P=0.01 and +0.19+/-0.23, P=0.05);(b) significant reduction in plasma insulin vs time AUC, during the OGTT (P=0.006); and (c) large significant reductions in total cholesterol, low-density lipoproteins (LDL) and triglycerides (-0.8+/-0.6 (P=0.007), -0.7+/-0.5 (P=0.003) and -0.3+/-0.3 (P=0.01) mmol/l respectively). In all these measured variables, either eight or all nine participants had identical directional responses when switched to paleolithic type diet, that is, near consistently improved status of circulatory, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism/physiology.Conclusions:Even short-term consumption of a paleolithic type diet improves BP and glucose tolerance, decreases insulin secretion, increases insulin sensitivity and improves lipid profiles without weight loss in healthy sedentary humans.European Journal of Clinical Nutrition advance online publication, 11 February 2009; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2009.4.

I’m going to repeat the conclusions in case they didn’t sink in:

“Even short-term consumption of a paleolithic type diet improves BP and glucose tolerance, decreases insulin secretion, increases insulin sensitivity and improves lipid profiles without weight loss in healthy sedentary humans.”

These are mighty impressive changes to occur in such a relatively short time. 10 days. This is even less than our 30-day Primal Health challenge.

These results were seen with no exercise (imagine what might have happened if they had added exercise) and with already nonobese, healthy individuals!

I hope the study speaks for itself and encourages those that have taken the 2009 Primal Health Challenge to stay the course. If you haven’t jumped on the band wagon just yet maybe this is the encouragement you need to go Primal.

Hit me up with a comment. Thanks, everyone!

Further Reading:

Conditioning Research: Stop the Presses! A Paleo Diet is Good for You

30 Day Primal Health Challenge Final Results

What’s the Difference Between Paleo and Primal?

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37 Comments on "I’m Not Going to Say, “I Told You So”"

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Chris
7 years 7 months ago

Glad you liked it.

Chris
7 years 7 months ago

The only thing I noticed was the lean meat prescription – it would have been interesting to see the results with nice fatty meat.

Son of Grok
7 years 7 months ago

I’ll say it… “You told them so!”

The SoG

Robert M.
Robert M.
7 years 7 months ago
Actual article here for people who have access: http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ejcn20094a.html Only nine subjects in the study. The numbers (especially on the lipid panel) are fairly impressive but the low number of subjects really erodes the statistical significance of the results. Also no controls (not that controls would be useful on such a small sample). There’s actually a far amount of sugar in the diet. Honey and juice is a listed ingredient in a number of places. Quote the dietary info: “The usual diet had a calculated K/Na intake ratio of 0.6plusminus0.3 and averaged 18% of calories from protein, 44% from carbohydrates… Read more »
Jeremy
Jeremy
7 years 7 months ago
Sebastian, one of the authors, is an advocate of the acid – base theory of bone structure. This is pushed heavily by Cordain in his book Paleo Diet. Stephan of Whole Health Source is appropriately skeptical about this theory: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2008/10/acid-base-balance.html As for the new dietary intervention, total saturated fat went down and polyunsaturated fat went up. Carbs basically stayed the same at 254 a day. Protein went up by 90 grams, but dietary cholesterol went down. Total calories increased. The meat in the sample diet is lean: pork tenderloin, chicken breast, tuna, turkey. Plenty of veggies: carrot juice, tomato juice,… Read more »
Holly
Holly
7 years 7 months ago

Now anytime anyone questions me with “WHAT?!?!? You don’t eat pasta/bread/etc???” I’m going to point them to this. Thanks Mark!

Chris
7 years 7 months ago
Marc David
7 years 7 months ago
Mark, I learned this from Dr. Chris Mohr and from doing some research on how to interpret a full study. One study doesn’t prove the point but an abstract proves even less. The link above as you quote is a “study” but in essence it’s an abstract. The term makes a world of difference. What The Section Means: ABSTRACT: A summary of the main points of the article: here’s where you’ll find the purpose of the study, the hypothesis, the methods used, who was studied, and the conclusion or the findings. While you should read this first to get an… Read more »
BEE
7 years 7 months ago

Wow, who knew!!??

Oh right, YOU DID!

’bout time.

trackback

[…] Mark Sisson was all over this immediately, so I won’t rehash his post.  Please go check out his take on the research at  Mark’s Daily Apple. […]

Alex
7 years 7 months ago

Yay!! And…of course.

Holly: I’ve stopped explaining not eating bread, etc 😉

MikeL
MikeL
7 years 7 months ago

Robert M,
I don’t agree with your statement about statistical significance and sample size. As the number of participants decreases, the effect size needed to show statistical significance (not to be confused with biological significance) increases. So, actually, it is larger sample sizes that “erode” the importance of a test. In other words, as a study becomes larger it becomes ever easier to find P<0.05. This is why huge observational studies that include hundreds or thousands of participants always show that something is significant. We should look with suspicion upon such studies.

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[…] hunter-gatherer type diet. Mark’s Daily Apple responds to this breaking news with, I’m Not Going to Say, “I Told You So” Published […]

Running Website
7 years 7 months ago
Big believer in diet. I am 52 and have known people who eat sandwich after sandwich….OK-wholewheat breat and lite mayo….whoopee, that’s still RIDICULOUS. You need to OMIT / CUTBACK on everything after a certain age. Don’t eat so much. I only eat once a day and look back at my younger days when I had breakfast lunch, snacked all day etc. Well, alsot of 52 year olds are STILL doing the same thing as back in their 20’s / 30’s. The big key is to omit junk and cut way back….your body really doesn’t need it. Good article though. I… Read more »
Frank Taeger
7 years 7 months ago

If the size of the study increases almost everything becomes significant. Then you have to start calculating the power of the effect and whatnot. Bigger groups are cool but are a mathematical hazzle if you ask me.

A bigger study is of course needed and it needs not only be bigger but longer as well. But everything usually starts with the first step, not the the last and sometimes not the biggest.

Justus
Justus
7 years 7 months ago

I have now read the whole article and I must say that I am genuinely impressed with the clear results and quick health benefits that are seen!
If I now only could talk my diabetic father who is a white rice junkie in to this.
And I must cut back on the salt…

patrick
patrick
7 years 7 months ago

I am worried that your higher fat diet is not healthy although you do look very healthy. I feel that the fiber from the bran cereals is better than the additional fat from the eggs and red meat. How long did Grok live in those days-was it till only 40years old and could it match us now, with our better water, sanitation, and an aspirin a day?

Danielle T
7 years 7 months ago
People are so brainwashed on diet. They FEEL this or that way because they are brainwashed. I don’t feel, I KNOW that on this diet I weight 120 for my 5′ 4″ frame and it’s a lean and muscle-packed 120,I work full-time with great energy all day, I almost never get sick (and recover quickly when I do), I am rested with 6-7 hours of sleep, and I climb, mountain bike, swim and run with people decades younger than I am and hold my own or better. Of course civilization has brought improvements that result in longer lifespan! It’s just… Read more »
Ellen
Ellen
7 years 7 months ago

Here here Danielle!

I could have written that!

joseph
joseph
7 years 7 months ago
This study is one of the few studies that was ever conducted with a possible Paleo type diet. We might argue that this wasn’t The Paleo that you advocate, but it is great that researchers even bother to do intervention studies with these type of diet, especially when atkins type diets and diets high in whole grains still dominate the nutritional field. This whole thing started with Dr. Boyd Eaton and was improved and got more international visibility thanks to Dr. Loren Cordain’s work, who has published some of the best papers on the topic. Yet people only read his… Read more »
Chris
7 years 7 months ago
Stephan had something good on this study today: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/02/paleolithic-diet-clinical-trials-part.html Translation: everyone improved. That’s a very meaningful point, because even if the average improves, in many studies a certain percentage of people get worse. This study adds to the evidence that no matter what your gender or genetic background, a diet roughly consistent with our evolutionary past can bring major health benefits. Here’s another way to say it: ditching certain modern foods can be immensely beneficial to health, even in people who already appear healthy. This is true regardless of whether or not one loses weight. There’s one last critical point… Read more »
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[…] health improvements from a hunter-gatherer-like diet, you can read some commentary here: Paleo Diet Research | Mark’s Daily Apple Rapid health improvements with a Paleolithic diet | The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D. And I can’t […]

David Shalinsky
7 years 7 months ago
Regarding comments that this publication is only an “Abstract.” That’s incorrect. Its a full study. The abstract is just the synopsis, a description of the study. Every scientific manuscript that is peer-reviewed has an abstract. Yes, there are only 9 subject, but each patient served as his/her own control; The changes that achieved statistical significance are believeable because of this design and the consistency of effects. It is very hard to obtain consistent or statistically significant results with such small test population. Its an impressive result from one study. David R Shalinsky, PhD Pharmacologist
Jay
7 years 5 months ago

OK- this is so predictable:

just eat (drink) what comes out of your BLENDER!
High speed, dude!

Green veggies,and fruits are important:
Not much else- just DRINkING the resulting smoothie!- ALL YOU NEED!

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[…] Eat Link Our Ancestors Eating a diet similar to the one followed by our ancestors thousands of years ago can quickly get your health on track. Click here to read the results subjects got after following a paleolithic diet (lean meats, fruits and vegetables, and nuts) for just 10 days. […]

Lisa
6 years 7 months ago

I personally find the paleo diet to be a lot of common sense – sadly a lot of which we have lost over the last few years, especially when it comes to food!

Annie
Annie
5 years 8 months ago

I am 24, 5’7″ and was 166 pounds. I have been on the Paleo diet for less than a month and have lost 11 pounds. I have never felt so good in my life. This is a life style change for me.

Dave
Dave
5 years 7 months ago

Paleo=eating clean, basically. The cool thing about it, when I go to a party and want to cheat, I load up on sausages, meatballs, etc. Love hearing, “How can you eat that and stay in shape”? I usually don’t even bother explaining. Hate hearing, “But all that protein will raise your cholesteral”.

dave
dave
5 years 3 months ago

Would someone exsplan in laymans terms the problem with eating grain! I just started the diet! But would like a explanation as ive heard so much in favor! I realize a person can have their own opinion! but not their own truth! thank you

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[…] Source: Obesity graph in the USA Study at Michigan University Joseph E.Murray, Nobel Prize, quote about the genes Study at University of California […]

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[…] a reduction in the glycemic load and offers healthy sources of glucose, reduction in fructose and regulates insulin production.  Again, Paleo could offer amazing […]

FitOldDog
3 years 6 months ago

Now we need a Paleo environment without all those TVs that I turn off when not being watched everywhere I go. This activity on my part generates a consistent response – hostility. I say, “No one is watching!” They get madder. What is this about? Kind Regards, Kevin aka FitOldDog

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[…] my point of view to represent an approximation to sanity. I guess an environmental parallel to the paleo diet would be good, without all the diseases, saber toothed tigers and the like. Guess you can't have […]

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3 years 6 months ago

[…] TODAY’S BLOG: paleo diet […]

Henry Edwards
Henry Edwards
2 years 8 months ago

I have been on this new lifestyle for 2 years and the results were amazing. Not only that I’ve lost about 60 pounds and maintained, but my health improved significantly. When I first started the Paleo diet, I found this guide very helpful. Maybe you will do too. http://bit.ly/18OmG8t

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1 year 10 months ago

[…] In honor of the dude who drove the nuns nuts when I was in grade-school:The medical profession may finally be catching on Theory to PracticeRobb Wolf's […]

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[…] Paleo diet research | mark’s daily apple […]

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