You all might know by now I’m fascinated by studies on the gut biome and intermittent fasting benefits.
Today’s norm when it comes to recommendations for food intake include either the consumption of three balanced meals or five smaller meals, but rarely are we advised to forgo eating all together and fast for an entire day. Looking back to the diets of our Paleolithic ancestors may provide valuable insight about potential benefits gained from their sporadic eating patterns.
Dr. Michael Eades looked to our ancestors for inspiration as he researched several alternative eating patterns. Dr. Eades concluded that, “Paleolithic man probably ate once per day or maybe even twice every three days.” After studying the eating patterns of humans living in non-westernized countries over the past century Eades noted that, “They would gorge after a kill and sleep and lay around doing not much of anything for the next day or so. When these folks got hungry, they went out and hunted and started the cycle again.”
The Paleolithic diet has evolved into a unique eating behavior known in modern society as intermittent fasting (IF). IF is defined as a diet regime that includes a day of eating followed by a day of fasting. Specific guidelines on the amount of hours spent fasting vary, but studies have observed potential health benefits among those engaging regularly in IF.
A study published in March 2006, in the journal of Medical Hypothesis found that subjects experienced health benefits from intermittent fasting in as little as the first two weeks. These benefits included insulin resistance, reduction of asthma, decrease in allergies, and resistance to viral and bacterial infections.
Of course this pattern of sporadic eating and fasting every other day is not for everyone, but if for nothing else, it may be useful to understand the eating patterns of our ancestors for insight about how we can best modify our current eating behaviors. The Paleolithic diet can provide us with some of these health benefits that helped man evolve so successfully to what we are today, and may even continue to help us improve our resistance to infection for the future.
My favorite blogs / authors on IF and the Paleo Diet include the following:
Yours in Health,
Stella Metsovas B.S., CCN