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Stone Age Diet Review

I was looking into trying a new diet, I'm trying this for two reasons: one, to cooking more interesting meals; and two, as a personal challenge. I'm not aiming for weight loss.

Background

The diet I am looking at is the "Stone Age Diet" (A.K.A. "anti-allergy diet"), it removes many modern foods such as dairy, gluten, refined sugar, caffeine, yeast, chemical additives, preservatives, artificial colours, flavourings and sweeteners. You go back to the basics: lean meat, fish, fruit, veg, herbs. This means that you have to remove all processed foods, hence it should improve my cooking skill. Unfortuanly there is no single definition of a stone age diet, some exclude cereals, legumes, or eggs. Personally I think nuts, seeds and eggs are great so they will be allowed. By my reckoning, it should be possible to keep the calorie intake the same as my previous diet (up to 5000kcal/day during my peak training), to do this I will allow rice, I know it is quite heavily processed and modified for human consumption.

Possible Benefits

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Allergies/Pages/Foodallergy.aspx

Many things that people have a food allergy/intolerance to are banned hence there is anecdotal stories of many improvements. This would require you to actually have an allergy/intolerance to something that you stop eating and that you keep the diet up for an extended period.

http://www.nhs.uk/news/2008/07July/Pages/Whichdiet.aspx
http://www.nhs.uk/news/2008/09September/Pages/Weightlossplansappeartowork.aspx
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_research_related_to_low-carbohydrate_diets

It also bans a lot of high carbohydrate (and high GI/GL) foods which could aid a low-carb weight-loss diet. However, there seems to be little consensus on the benefits of a low-carb weight-loss diet (such as Atkins).

Research

To start off I did some research (as I always do). I think it is an interesting hypothesis "does the recent additions to the human diet cause problems". I have seen many newspaper articles and TV shows praising the benefits, here are a select few:

  1. The Telegraph
  2. Independent
  3. Daily Mail
  4. Richard & Judy
  5. Times

Ok, so the media sings the praises; off to find out if there is any better evidence; first stop Wikipedia. After a few hours of following the links on wikipedia and google I finally found three pages I love, but first a bit more background reading:

Here we go, my top 3 links:

  1. What Actually was the Stone Age Diet?: This tells you that there was no single stone age diet, and talks about the kind of things available to people in the paleolithic. Good to stop people becoming to anal about what should properly be allowed in the diet.

  2. Special Diets are Easy: This is a lovely example of why I love the internet, a cookbook devoted to food that are allowed in this diet. Haven't bought it yet and wouldn't trust any of it's science but I just love how the internet brings communities of niece interest together.

  3. NHS - Cave Man Fad Diet: Here is the only bit of science I have found, it is a review of the diet and in particular the one piece of research done on it. The pertinent quote is There are several limitations to this study which mean that readers should not draw too many conclusions from it. http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v62/n5/abs/1602790a.html here is that study.

Summary

Basically, there is no such single thing as the stone age diet. Yet, there has been one piece of proper research and that was a small uncontrolled observational study hence we cannot draw findings from it. Many people swear by the diet, though this is the personal opinion of a few vocal non-experts.

That said: it make sense that there is a benefit of removing many likely sources of allergy/intolerance. If a significant individual benefit was found then food could be gradually added back and other things removed. I have none of the common symptoms so this is not an issue for me. The advantage of reducing high GI/GL foods again make logical sense. see Wikipedia:Glycemic_index for further information.



Ketosis & Weight-Loss

Here is a little aside on ketosis weight loss. I don't think I know enough to pass judgement but both points seemed relevant (assuming they are talking about the same thing).

http://www.drmyhill.co.uk/article.cfm?id=257

As a general principle I don't like my CFS patients dieting because cutting calories makes you tired, cold and depressed and you can do without those things! However, if you are extremely strict with CHO, the body switches into a state of ketosis... if there is [no carbohydrate] then ketones are excreted in the breath and in the urine - one literally pees out calories. This is very good for morale when every time you pee you lose calories and weight!

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Ketosis/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Ketosis is potentially a very serious condition that occurs when there are raised levels of chemicals, called ketones, in the blood... Ketosis is often caused by a diet that is very low in carbohydrate. Ketones are toxic (poisonous), acidic chemicals such as: acetone, acetoacetate, and beta-hydroxybutyrate.

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