Living in the Palaeolithic age (2.58 million year ago) had to be tough and dangerous, but it was for sure healthier. Even though we had to fight, run, and either hunt for food or rely on easily accessible raw things to eat, we were far away from living a lazy, sedentary life with easy access to highly processed and sugary foods, also called non-optimal by the authors of the book “The Paleo Diet for Athletes,” Loren Cordain and Joe Friel.  

Even though we currently live relatively longer compared to our Paleolithic ancestors, our diet and lifestyle prevent us from living life to the fullest. On the contrary, it makes us more prone to all forms of health disruptions, including obesity and diabetes. As indicated by the authors, our bodies have not changed that drastically during evolution and thus are not well adjusted to nonoptimal, western diet-based foods, which is why they alter our health and performance so much. The good news is we can literally go back to the roots and recreate the Paleolithic diet rules in our current times, 2.58 million years later.

The Paleo diet has become trendy these days, it is a beloved type of diet among many celebrities, there are plenty of blogs and tweets about it as well. Paleo is also recommended for athletes to naturally enhance muscle anabolic function (so that the muscles work much more effectively) and preserve overall health. Among Paleo diet fans in the sport world there are swimmers, NBA players and MMA/UFC fighters.

But why does the Palaeolithic diet, typical for preagricultural societies (3), deserve our attention at all?

It is due to its rules- promoting consumption of healthy foods such as vegetables, fruit, nuts, lean meat, fish, eggs, and at the same time excluding refined sugar, salt, legumes, dairy products, and grains (4). Thus, contrary to the western diet, paleo offers the so-called optimal foods, the consumption of which our bodies are adapted to.

Knife and fork over wooden cutting board and ketogenic low carbs ingredients for healthy eating concept and weight loss, top view. Keto foods: meat, fish, avocado, cheese, vegetables, nuts
The paleo diet includes lean meats, fish, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables, and excludes processed foods and grains.

The lifestyle typical for the Paleolithic hunters is being currently mimicked by the Hadza (Hadzabe) tribe from Northern Tanzania, one of the last tribes on earth living according to nature’s rhythm. The Hadza currently have around 1300 members and they live a typical nomad life, setting up only temporary grass-based shelters before moving to the next place where they can find new sources of food. The tribe members are hunters and gatherers, eating primarily plants, but also meat (they use hand-made bows and arrows to hunt mainly for birds), fat, and honey, all natural and unprocessed. It was demonstrated that Hadza members experience fewer metabolic dysfunctions compared to citizens of modern Western societies. For this reason, the hunter-gatherer paleo diet has found a clinical interest in the context of metabolic disease management. According to the current research, the secret to the Hadza tribe’s health lies within the diversity of their microbiome (7). Compared to the Hadza’s guts, our westernized guts do not have many beneficial bacteria protecting us against metabolic diseases. Thus, it would be beneficial if we could “re-wild” our diets, following a Hadza-like lifestyle, offered by a paleo diet. 

Arusha, Tanzania, 7Th September 2019: Maasai man cooking meat on fire
The Hadza, a hunter-gatherer group in northern Tanzania, are highly active and consume meats, vegetables, fruits, and honey.

The Paleo diet was shown to have beneficial effects on the amelioration of both obesity and diabetes and is currently being recommended together with a training intervention. Recently published reports indicated the significance of the combination of both paleo and exercise. For example, the study by Ott et al. (4) showed that Paleo improves fat mass and metabolic balance including insulin sensitivity, and regulates blood glucose levels and leptin concentration (the hormone responsible for hunger regulation) in subjects with type 2 diabetes, whereas exercise helps maintain these effects and stabilizes cardiovascular fitness. Also, more recently, Gyorkos et al. (6) showed that paleo and exercise are the most effective in improving cardio-metabolic parameters and reducing inflammation in patients suffering from metabolic syndrome (the combination of risk factors leading to cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes). 

One of the main advantages of using optimal food-based paleo diet is weight loss, which normalizes other metabolic parameters. 

So, if you are currently seeking a diet suitable to help you better control your diabetes or you wish to accomplish your New Year’s resolution to lose those extra pounds in a simple way, the paleo diet should be on your “to consider” list! (Always remember to ask your doctor about their recommendations adjusted to your individual situation).


  1. “The Paleo Diet for Athletes” by Dr. Loren Cordain and Joe Friel
  3. Gentile CL, Weir TL The gut microbiota at the intersection of diet and human health. Science. 2018 16;362(6416):776 780. doi: 10.1126/science.aau5812.
  4. Otten J., Stomby A.,  Waling M., et al. Benefits of a Paleolithic diet with and without supervised exercise on fat mass, insulin sensitivity, and glycemic control: a randomized controlled trial in individuals with type 2 diabetes Diabetes Metab Res Rev., 2017
  7. Gyorkos A, Baker MH, Miutz LN, Lown DA, Jones MA, Houghton-Rahrig LD.Cureus. Carbohydrate-restricted Diet and High-intensity Interval Training Exercise Improve Cardio-metabolic and Inflammatory Profiles in Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized Crossover Trial. 2019 Sep 8;11(9):e5596. doi: 10.7759/cureus.5596.