The Real Paleo Diet

The BBC produced a fascinating segment that aired throughout Britain and “would fit right into our educational curriculum at the Pritikin Longevity Center,” smiles Dr. Jay Kenney, Nutrition Research Specialist.

It was the story of nine men and women who set up camp for 12 days in tents at a British zoo and ate the diet, lots of high-fiber fruit and veggies and some fish, that our ape-like ancestors most likely consumed. Yes, the real Paleo diet.

As you learned at the Pritikin Longevity Center, the film shows how quickly and dramatically our health can improve when we eat the foods our bodies are biologically designed to eat.

21st century diet

The Brits in the BBC film, ages 36 to 49, looked fairly healthy, but their 21st century diet, high in salt- and saturated-fat-rich foods like scones and Shepherd pies, “could be killing them,” reported the BBC. They all had dangerously high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

“Can turning back the clock and eating like our nearest relatives, the apes, reverse the negative effects of our modern-day diet?” the reporters asked, noting that for hundreds of thousands of years our human ancestors ate primarily fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and, in most cases, limited amounts of lean wild animal meat or fish.


Our digestive systems evolved, in effect, on food very different from our current-day diet of sugar, salt, fat, and refined flours. And since our new diet is very very new in evolutionary terms, just a century old, our bodies haven’t had any chance to adapt to it.

What we have, then, is “a mismatch between what we ate as we evolved and the food we eat now,” and the sad result is “many of our modern health problems,” scientists told the BBC.

But we also have, as the segment colorfully portrays, the ability to get well real fast.  After just 12 days of eating a lot of fruit and veggies (11 pounds daily), very little salt (the equivalent of one olive), and some nuts and seafood, the entire group brought their blood pressure down to normal.  Cholesterol levels fell 23%, and the volunteers shed on average nearly 10 pounds.

Fueling the healthy body

They felt better, too. Energy levels soared. They started romping around, throwing frisbees and playing soccer, as frisky as the apes next door. Constipation problems vanished.  And with pounds of food to eat each day, no one complained of hunger.

Most surprised at the feel-good vibe of the group was the TV crew. They’d fully anticipated getting footage of “unhappiness and grumpiness.”  It never happened.


“The diet was a success,” concluded the BBC producers, and ended their segment with a close-up of one beaming male volunteer, who, sounding like one of our guests after a health-restoring two weeks at Pritikin, announced, “I feel a lot better. I have lots of energy, I’m sleeping well.  Overall I think it’s great!”

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