Date of Graduation

Summer 8-8-2015

Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies

First Advisor

Annjanette Sommers, PA-C, MS

Second Advisor

James Ferguson, PA-C


Background: The modern western diet has been one of the major suspects in the rise of chronic disease such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. The Paleolithic diet may be a more metabolic fit for humans compared to current contemporary diets. The purpose of this review is to investigate the effects of a Paleolithic diet on the risk factors of patients with chronic disease in isolation and compared to contemporary diets.

Methods: An exhaustive search of online medical literature was performed using Medline-OVID, Web of Science, and CINAHL-EBSCO. Keywords used included: Paleolithic diet, palaeolithic diet, paleo diet, and hunter gatherer diet. Eligible studies were assessed using the GRADE criteria.

Results: Four articles met eligibility criteria. Two of the articles were by the same author discussing the same study but with different data that are relevant to this review. Two of studies were randomized control trials while one was specifically a randomized crossover trial. There are some consistent results regarding significant improvement of weight, waist circumference, and triglycerides in the Paleolithic diet groups when compared to the contemporary diet groups. The overall quality of the original studies are low to moderate due to some limitations. Further studies can minimize these limitations to improve quality of evidence in regards to the effects of a Paleolithic diet on patients with chronic disease.

Conclusion: Thus far, studies investigating a Paleolithic diet do not provide enough evidence to support its place as a universally recommended diet, but the diet can be an option for medical providers to discuss with patients to combat chronic disease.

Keywords: Paleolithic diet, palaeolithic diet, chronic disease, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, risk factors