Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
5 Jun

Primal Lifestyle Good for Your Heart?

HeartFollowing a primal eating plan rich in meat, vegetables, berries and nuts may reduce the risk of heart disease, according to a small study published this month in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

For the study, researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden recruited 14 healthy volunteers to ditch their normal diet in favor of a Paleolithic diet. As such, volunteers were restricted from consuming cereals, bread, sugar, milk, butter and cheese.

Over the course of the three week study, the volunteers lost an average of 2.3 kg (roughly 5.5 lbs), reduced their waist circumference (a key indicator of abdominal adiposity as well as potential cardiovascular risk according to this Journal of the American Medical Association study) by 0.5 cm and reduced their body mass index (which, admittedly, is not an accurate indicator of health) by 0.8. In addition, systolic blood pressure was reduced by 3 mmHg and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (high circulating levels of which may be associated with increased heart disease risk) were reduced by 72%.

Commenting on the findings, the study’s lead author noted that “a short intervention with a Paleolithic diet had some favorable effects on cardiovascular health.” Of course, we say, “imagine what positive effects a lifetime can have!”

However, his analysis did reveal what they categorized as a potential “drawback” to the diet.

Specifically, he called attention to the reduction in calcium intake experienced across the study period. He cited the lack of dairy as a primary reason for this. Our take at MDA is that the original recommended daily allowance (RDA) for calcium may have been based on a diet comprised of significant amounts of grains, which, according to previous research, may bind calcium and prevent its uptake, thus exaggerating our actual calcium needs. Furthermore, simply increasing the frequency of weight-bearing exercises or reducing the stress in our lives (which promotes production of cortisol, a known calcium blocker) may help maintain bone health and thus somewhat reduce our reliance on calcium. Alternatively, these perceived inadequacies in calcium intake could be ameliorated by increasing the intake of dark leafy green vegetables, adding a little cheese to the diet (one of the Primal sensible vices), or supplementing the diet with either a calcium or vitamin D – which improves calcium absorption – supplement. Or maybe just some regular sunlight.

Groundbreaking study? Probably not, given the size and the fact that even the study’s lead author concluded that more research was needed into the benefits of the diet. We agree! Let’s see that research!

GrinnellGirl Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

Speaking of a Primal eating strategy

Dear Mark: Nuts

Conditioning Research: Paleolithic Study

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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. What would be great is if they did a comparitive sturdy to see what effects living according to the “food pyramid” does for cardiovascular health/weight/BMI index. I have a good guess, it wouldn’t be pretty.

    Mel wrote on June 5th, 2008
  2. The folks in this particular study were all ready healthy and they achieved reduced waist circumference .5 cm in three weeks. That is pretty impressive. I am a little concerned however with the calcium deficiency, however the article did explain how to eliminate this issue. I know that blood pressure is a key issue with seniors, like myself, I would be curious to know if it would be wise for someone who is in relatively good shape but also enjoys grains, cereals and such, along with meat and potatoes to just jump into a paleolithic diet? Or should someone who has never had a regimented disciplined eating plan ease themselves into this? Essentially I am interested in naturally controlling my blood pressure, I just want to do it the right way. I would actually enjoy some feedback/ discussion if there is anyone knowledgeable out there.
    Thanks!!
    Kim

    Kim wrote on June 5th, 2008
  3. Funny, you didn’t say this. “imagine what positive effects a lifetime can have!” about the Ornish diet and it’s positive effects on reversing cardiovascular disease.

    Dr. J wrote on June 5th, 2008
  4. Food for thought on the whole calcium/milk mantra

    http://www.notmilk.com/calbones.html

    Plenty of other, better places to get your calcium (and magnesium) from!

    Nancy wrote on June 5th, 2008
  5. Paleo diet sounds great, but I think the people in ancient times or even in the last millennium have pretty good health condition so I don’t get that whole carb is very bad thing.
    I saw a post about the zone diet here, but I can’t find it. Would be that bad if I eat paleo friendly foods, but in zone portions(40-30-30)? I have started paleo diet since last week, but I am too low in energy. My diet is high in fat (about 160 gramm), high in protein (about 100-120 gramm) and moderate in carbs (150 gramm). I’m about 152 lbs.

    David wrote on June 6th, 2008
  6. David, You can’t have high fat and high carb together as that will just lead to weight gain. Its one or the other. You should have high fat, moderate protein and low carbs about 50g. Also, low in energy is normal you have to give your body a chance to switch over from a carb burner to a fat burner and your energy should then pick up.

    I think the health condition of people is pretty bad actually.

    Sue wrote on June 6th, 2008
  7. Mark,

    I am probably 90% primal now!, Just can’t substitute milk, cottage cheese and yogurt with anything because of the convenience of them. Milk goes into my coffee and also is a substrate of my protein blend which also contains berries and some flax seed oil. Yogurt and cottage cheese are my favorite snacks (I get normal not low fat options), and often serve them with berries or some other fruits.

    Should I try to replace these with some other sources of protein ? I ain’t no casual eater of them, as I go through one container of yogurt every 2-3 days..

    Al wrote on June 6th, 2008
  8. I have the same question—do I have to ditch the consumption of whole milk plain yogurt? At least in the weight loss phase? I love it with blueberries and walnuts for breakfast! But I might be able to give it up if I can have it again eventually.

    Sara wrote on June 6th, 2008
  9. Another way to solve the calcium problem is with meat stock simmered for a long time with a large proportion of bones. Asian cultures who don’t do dairy probably get most of their calcium from homemade beef/pork stock and also small fish or shellfish eaten with bones/exoskeleton.

    Rita wrote on June 6th, 2008
  10. Sue:
    I think my overall calorie intake isn’t too much. I exercise a lot and I am a hardgainer. I’ve never been fatty (yet:). It’s hard for me to eat so little amount of carbs. For example a banana and an apple is about 50 gramm of carbs. I don’t think it’s healthy to stress about eating. Usually I eat vegetables to cover my carb needs but I love fruits too, I don’t want to give it up.

    I meant, the health of the old times’ people were pretty good. I think the main problem of nowadays is the processed “foods”. People of the ancient greek ate grains but they didn’t have any junk foods like we have at the supermarkets. I’m not an expert, but I don’t think they were sick all the time..

    David wrote on June 6th, 2008
  11. I think 50g of carb is restrictive unless it’s being done specifically to help with weight loss. When Mark posted his intake ahwile back, I think he was up in the 120g a day range.

    Dave C. - DaveGetsFit wrote on June 6th, 2008
  12. Mark and others: I see your latest on what Grok ate. My comment comes from my life experience. I am not vegan, but I avoid most meat. You make it sound like meat is generally okay/good, and I claim it is not okay/not very good. I ate meat for years until about age 55. I was diagnosed with a cancerous colon polyp after having as many as 7 polyps removed in annual checkups in previous years. At about the time of my surgery (1992), I coincidentally married a vegetarian lady and stopped eating meat of any kind. After the surgery and in followup exams, I had no more polyps. Later, during an exam, a doctor told the biggest single cause of colon cancer is the eating of meat. I was glad I stayed vegetarian (I do eat eggs and salmon); since 1992, I have never had another colon polyp. At 72, I still take no medications of any kind and do feel old (the memory tells me) but quite healthy and active.

    Tom Orlando wrote on June 13th, 2008
  13. Mark and others: I see your latest on what Grok ate. My comment comes from my life experience. I am not vegan, but I avoid most meat. You make it sound like meat is generally okay/good, and I claim it is not okay/not very good. I ate meat for years until about age 55. I was diagnosed with a cancerous colon polyp after having as many as 7 polyps removed in annual checkups in previous years. At about the time of my surgery (1992), I coincidentally married a vegetarian lady and stopped eating meat of any kind. After the surgery and in followup exams, I had no more polyps. Later, during an exam, a doctor told me the biggest single cause of colon cancer is the eating of meat. I was glad I stayed vegetarian (I do eat eggs and salmon); since 1992, I have never had another colon polyp. At 72, I still take no medications of any kind and do feel old (the memory tells me) but quite healthy and active.

    Tom Orlando wrote on June 13th, 2008
    • you dont!! trust me you may regret it if you eat for two once you have the baby and reialse your a fair bit larger than you used to be. some people blow up some people dont. if you overeat your taking that risk. eat healthily, a wide variety of foods and when your hungry. indulge every now and again so you feel normal!! heres some info you may find helpful:During pregnancy, your basal metabolic rate (BMR, or the number of calories you use each day) will increase, and you’ll need more calories to support the extra work needed for fetal development. During the first trimester, most women usually don’t need to increase their usual daily intake of calories (i.e., 1,800 to 2,000 calories) unless they need to compensate for starting a pregnancy underweight. But even if extra calories aren’t consumed in the first trimester, you should still make balanced nutrition part of your daily wellness plan.During the second and third trimesters, you will need an extra 200 to 300 calories each day. But that doesn’t mean feeling uncomfortably full: for example, just one piece of toast and a banana can supply those extra calories.goodluck and remember that baby is alot smaller than you are so when you go for two burgers instead of one remember he sure aint gonna be taking the fallout for the 2nd one!!!happy eating!!!

      Daisuke wrote on June 7th, 2012

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