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Between two million and ten thousand years ago, during the Paleolithic era in which we evolved, there was no agriculture, no farmed grains, no refined fat or sugar, little salt, and no dairy.
We've only been farming for about ten thousand years, not nearly long enough for evolution to genetically re-tool us into farmers. So it may be that we are really built to thrive on the diet of our Stone Age hunter-gatherer ancestors.
Recently Dr. Staffan Lindeberg from Lund University in Sweden tested that hypothesis on about thirty people with impaired glucose tolerance or type 2 diabetes, as well as coronary heart disease. For three months, fourteen patients ate a Stone Age diet of fruit, nuts, eggs, lean meat, fish, greens, and root vegetables, similar to what was hunted and gathered on the plains of Africa two million years ago.
A control group of fifteen patients ate a Mediterranean diet that included farmed foods such as whole grains, low fat dairy products, fruit, vegetables, salt, and unsaturated fats, as well as lean meat and fish.
At the end of the three months, the blood sugar levels of the Mediterranean eaters had fallen seven percent. The Stone Age diet eaters, however, experienced a blood sugar drop of 26 percent. The improved glucose tolerance was unrelated to changes in weight or waist circumference.
Dr. Lindeberg is the author of the Swedish Stone Age Cookbook and has followed such a diet for twenty years.
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