The Effect Of the Paleo Diet On Overall Height

It feels like a lot of the blog I follow these days is in the realm of health and fitness. Nutrition is always a critical element in health and fitness and what seems to be really big these days is the Paleo Diet. I have heard about the Paleo Diet for at least 3 years now and it seems to have gotten into the public awareness. The proponents of the Paleo Diet talk about the benefits of it which includes like increased energy, feeling better and stronger, and being more in touch with one’s body.

So first, what is the Paleo Diet? I take a section from the Wikipedia article on it HERE.

The paleolithic diet (abbreviated paleo diet or paleodiet), also popularly referred to as the caveman dietStone Age diet and hunter-gatherer diet, is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed ancient diet of wild plants and animals that various hominid species habitually consumed during the Paleolithic era—a period of about 2.5 million years duration that ended around 10,000 years ago with the development of agriculture. In common usage, such terms as the “Paleolithic diet” also refer to the actual ancestral human diet.

Centered on commonly available modern foods, the “contemporary” Paleolithic diet consists mainly of fish, grass-fed pasture raised meats, vegetables, fruit, fungi, roots, and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar, and processed oils.

….Paleolithic nutrition is based on the premise that modern humans are genetically adapted to the diet of their Paleolithic ancestors and that human genetics have scarcely changed since the dawn of agriculture, and therefore that an ideal diet for human health and well-being is one that resembles this ancestral diet. Proponents of this diet argue that modern human populations subsisting on traditional diets allegedly similar to those of Paleolithic hunter-gatherers are largely free of diseases of affluence, and that two small prospective studies of the Paleolithic diet in humans have shown some positive health outcomes. Supporters point to several potentially therapeutic nutritional characteristics of allegedly preagricultural diets.

Me: There are of course a lot of controversy and criticism of this “new” diet trend.

This dietary approach is a controversial topic amongst dietitians and anthropologists, and an article on the National Health Service of the United Kingdom Choices website suggests that it may be afad diet. Critics have argued that if hunter-gatherer societies failed to suffer from “diseases of civilization”, this was mostly due to reduced calories in their diet, shorter average lifespans, or a variety of other factors, rather than some special diet composition. Some researchers have taken issue with the accuracy of the diet’s underlying evolutionary logic.

Also disputed are some dietary recommendations and restrictions on the grounds that they provide no health benefits or pose health risks and are not likely to accurately reflect the features of ancient Paleolithic diets.

A 2011 ranking by U.S. News & World Report, involving a panel of 22 experts, ranked the Paleo diet lowest of the 20 diets evaluated based on factors including health, weight-loss and ease of following.These results were repeated in the 2012 survey, where the diet placed 24th out of 24, stating that their experts “took issue with the diet on every measure”. However, one expert involved in the ranking stated that a “true Paleo diet might be a great option: very lean, pure meats, lots of wild plants. The modern approximations… are far from it.” He quickly added that “duplicating such a regimen in modern times would be difficult.”[24]

The ranking assumed a modernized offshoot to the paleo diet in which low-carb is emphasized, this diet specifically containing only 23% carbohydrates. Higher carbohydrate versions of the paleo diet, which allow for significant consumption of root vegetables, were not a part of this ranking. Loren Cordain, a proponent of a low-carbohydrate Paleolithic diet, responded to the U.S. News ranking, stating that their “conclusions are erroneous and misleading” and pointing out that “five studies, four since 2007, have experimentally tested contemporary versions of ancestral human diets and have found them to be superior toMediterranean diets, diabetic diets and typical western diets in regards to weight loss, cardiovascular disease risk factors and risk factors for type 2 diabetes.” The editors of U.S. News replied that their ranking included a review of all five studies which found that all of them were small and/or of short duration.

Me: However I am not going to get into the details of the Paleo diet, only what types of effect does the Paleo Diet have on the person’s growth and height. From my research on the Pelolithic man, we learn that the average height of humans at that time was believed to be around 

From this obviously biased website we learn that the paleolithic male was supposed to be around 177 cm in height with a lifespan of 35.4 years while the paleolithic female had an average height of 166.5 cm in height with a life span of 30 years.

If we analyze the graph on the website, we see that the height of humans in general seemed to have decrease as they moved away from the paleolithic time era to the mesolithic time era. The height average seems to decrease further and further moving into the early neolithic era to the late neolithic era.

From MarksDailyApple.Com the author writes this…

According to one study on remains of early Europeans, prior to 16,000 BC, European males stood 179 cm tall, or 5’10.5″, and females stood 158 cm, or 5’2″. Between 8,000 to 6,600 BC, average heights had dropped to 166 cm for males. Heights fell even further in Neolithic populations, dropping down to 164 cm for males and 150 cm for females, only reaching and surpassing 170 cm at the end of the 19th century.

Another source found that Paleolithic humans living between 30,000 and 9,000 BC ran almost 5’10″, which is close to the average modern American male’s height. After agriculture was fully adopted, male height dropped to 161 cm, or 5’5.4″. Females went from 166.5 cm to 154.3 cm under the same parameters.

We know these changes to height also reflected worsened health, because with shortness came dental pathologies like caries, plaque, and decay, signs of arrested growth indicating instances of severe malnutrition, and skull abnormalities that stem from iron deficiency. People got shorter, sicker, and less healthy. Height wasn’t a cause of poor health, of course, but it was an indicator.

Me: The main point to take away from this article is that it seems to appear that following a paleolithic diet (which is protein based) may result in greater height instead of eating a diet that is more carbohydrate based.

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