Cancer: Disease of Civilization? An anthropological and historical study by Vilhjalmur Stefansson. This classic shows what happens before and after tribes were "civilized." Covers day-to-day experience of Eskimo life. Published in 1960. Used copies are available at a steep price. To read it get it on inter-library loan. Another of his many books My Life with the Eskimo (New Edition) is available.
When following the Paleo diet, you will cut the trans fats and the omega-6 polyunsaturated fats in your diet and increase the healthful monounsaturated and omega-3 fats that were the mainstays of our ancestors. Recent large population studies, known as meta analyses, show that saturated fats have little or no adverse effects upon cardiovascular disease risk.
Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes: These are just a few of the health conditions that proponents of the Paleolithic diet, or caveman diet, blame on our sedentary lifestyles and modern diets, which are loaded with sugar, fat, and processed foods. Their proposed solution? Cut modern foods from our diet and return to the way our early hunter-gatherer ancestors ate.
Deadly Harvest: The Intimate Relationship Between Our Health and Our Food by Geoff Bond. The author is a nutritional anthropologist who has for years investigated both foods of the past and our prehistoric eating habits. Using the latest scientific research and studies of primitive tribal lifestyles, Bond first explains the actual diet that our ancestors followed--a diet that was and still is in harmony with the human species. He then describes how the foods in today's diets disrupt our biochemistry and digestive system, leading to health disorders such as allergies, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity, and more. Most important, he explains the appropriate measures we can take to avoid these diseases--and even beat them back--through healthy eating. The conclusions of Deadly Harvest are that disease control happens by eating a strict low-glycemic diet, lowering the percentage of body fat you carry around, eat a diet consisting of mostly non-starchy plant-based foods, eat a low-fat diet with ample amounts of omega-3 fats, maintain good colon health, engage in regular physical activity, get some daily sunshine, and reduce chronic stress. If you do this, then diseases like cancer, heart disease, digestive problems, allergies, autoimmune diseases, brain diseases, diabetes, and obesity can be avoided. The Amazon reviews average to 5 stars.
Cordain argues that chimpanzees and horses avoid meat, and they have big bellies that we would have if we didn’t ditch plants for meat. He also says meat increased human brain size, and decreased stomach size so we can have the six-pack abs that chimps can’t. But I looked at his endnotes with citations to research and couldn’t find the source for these theories. I also couldn’t find research showing that legumes and grains were invented by humans.
The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic! Research in biology, biochemistry, Ophthalmology, Dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility. – Robb Wolf
The final benefit we’ll discuss is a balanced dietary alkaline load. While this concept sounds complex, it’s actually quite simple: after digestion, all foods present either a net acid or alkaline load to the kidneys. Meats, fish, grains, legumes, cheese, and salt all produce acids, while Paleo-approved fruits and vegetables yield alkalines. A lifetime of excessive dietary acid may promote bone and muscle loss, high blood pressure, an increased risk for kidney stones, and may aggravate asthma and exercise-induced asthma. The Paleo diet seeks to reduce the risk of chronic disease by emphasising a balanced alkaline load.
For many years Arthur De Vany Ph.D. has been writing a book called Evolutionary Fitness on "What Evolution Teaches Us About How to Live and Stay Healthy." The diet he follows fits into my core diet definition. He may have been the first one to use the paleo diet to maximize fitness. His current site is Art's Blog on Fitness, Health, Aging, Nutrition and Exercise [archive.org].
There is little argument over the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. They are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. The only caveat for paleo dieters is that some vegetables are starchy (e.g., potatoes) and some fruits are higher in sugar (e.g., bananas). So, if you are trying to lose weight or watch your blood sugar levels, eat these in moderation. In fact, potatoes are banned from some versions of the diet.
While the diet as a whole hasn't been well studied, the benefits of cutting packaged foods from your diet could be huge. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, three quarters of the average American's sodium intake (which is almost double what it should be!) comes from commercially prepared foods. And, one Public Health Nutrition study found that people who cook at least five times a week are 47% more likely to be alive 10 years later compared to those who rely more on processed foods.
Grains and legumes (or pulses) are other groups that are frowned upon in the diet. "The right grains in the right amount can actually curtail inflammation," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN, creator of the blog Better Than Dieting and author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You From Label To Table. In addition, fiber-rich legumes, including beans, lentils, and peas, have been consistently linked with reduced risk of obesity and chronic disease. "Fiber-rich carbs can supply energy, fiber, a host of vitamins and minerals, and a soothing satisfaction that could keep us from eating less nutritionally dense choices," Taub-Dix says. With the rise in popularity of ancient grains such as amaranth, millet, oats, and teff, and pulses, such as chickpeas and lentils, there's much opportunity to access versatile, naturally delicious whole grains and legumes that our ancestors ate. "Carbohydrates have a bad reputation, justified by the company they often keep, such as rich sauces and butter, and the forms in which they may be served (eg, donuts and pastries)," Taub-Dix says, "but the right carbs can save us from degenerative diseases."