HealthWatch: What’s In The Paleo Diet?

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A follower of 'The Paleo Diet,' shops for berries in New York (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)

A follower of ‘The Paleo Diet,’ shops for berries in New York (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) — Recently, CBS 5’s Dr. Kim Mulvihill decided to go back in time and eat like a caveman. Since then, she has reaped several health benefits.

It’s called the Ancestral Health or Paleo movement. The idea: that the human gene pool, our DNA, has changed little since the Stone Age.

“We’re basically hunter and gatherers living in the 21st century with all this technology and our genes don’t know what to make of it,” said Mark Sisson, author of the book “Primal Blueprint.”

CBS 5 HealthWatch: Caveman Diet Trend Videos
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Sample Paleo Diets:
Table Of Paleo Foods | Two Day Diet | Detailed Diet 1 | Diet 2

Some experts believe the ancient DNA that runs our bodies is designed to work best when fueled with real, unrefined, unprocessed food. While our modern diet may save us time, effort and money, they say it’s making us sick.

Dr. S. Boyd Eaton called them “the diseases of civilization” caused by the mismatch of our lifestyle and genes. “Heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, which is the most common form of diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis,” Eaton said.

UCSF endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig said today’s modern diet that’s packed with processed foods actually drives up insulin levels. He said that too much insulin is the real culprit: making us hungry, fat, and fatigued.

Related Coverage:
Ancestral Health Symposium
Ancestry Foundation on Vimeo
The Paleo Diet

“Everybody says TV and video games make people sedentary. Garbage. Not true” said Lustig. “Here’s what makes people sedentary: insulin. Insulin makes people sedentary.”

So, in the name of science, under the guidance of UCSF researchers, Mulvihill ate like a caveman. It was a good fit.

In just 10 days, her total cholesterol had plummeted from 221 to 170. Her triglycerides went down, as did her blood pressure. Mulvihill was also no longer pre-diabetic. She felt full of energy.

But what did she eat? According to Sisson, when it comes to a Paleo or Primal diet, it is simple.

“You can eat all you want, whenever you want. From this big list of very tasty foods: Meat, fish, fowl, eggs, nuts, seeds, vegetables, a little bit of fruit, some chocolate, maybe a little red wine,” Sisson said. “You can eat all you want, whenever you want as long as you don’t eat from this list that contains sugars, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, seed oils, and you know, grains.”

Here is a sample menu from one day that Dr. Mulvihill followed.

Breakfast:
Orange Juice and coffee
Fresh fruit and dried plums
Poached eggs or pork tenderloin

Lunch:
Carrot Juice
Big salad with greens, sliced tomatoes, almond slivers, avocado, cucumber slices, topped with a chicken breast and drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Dinner:
Tomato juice
Spinach Salad with mandarin orange slices
Sautéed vegetables
Filet Mignon
Couple of dates and fresh fruit

Mulvihill said it’s okay to cheat sometimes. She enjoyed cupcakes, even a bun with her hamburger. Bottom line: the less you cheat the more weight you’ll lose. But Mulvihill said she is good 80 to 90 percent of the time.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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