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The history of the Paleolithic ketogenic diet
The ketogenic diet’s history over the last hundred years is closely intertwined with the history of the treatment of epilepsy. In 1921, at the Mayo Clinic, Russell Wilder was the first to use the ketogenic diet to treat people with epilepsy. In the 1920s and 1930s, the use of the ketogenic diet spread, and at that time it was essentially the only treatment method used for epilepsy patients in the United States. The first drug for epilepsy (phenytoin) was introduced in 1937 and with its release, the ketogenic diet as a treatment option was pushed to the background. The ketogenic diet’s rediscovery can be attributed to a Hollywood producer. In the early 90s, Jim Abrahams was searching for a cure for epilepsy, because medicine couldn’t control his son’s epileptic seizures. Abrahams found the answer in the method used decades ago. His son became seizure-free, and Abrahams believed that the method could help other patients too. He filmed a documentary, created a foundation and wrote articles, all of which popularized the ketogenic diet. His oeuvre launched the second wave of the ketogenic diet, which doctors specialized in epilepsy later joined. Currently, the Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins hospital is considered to be the center of the movement. From 2000 on, there have been attempts to find a balance between the efficiency and feasibility of newer versions of the ketogenic diet, such as the modified Atkins diet and the low glycemic index diets. The ketogenic diet have been used to treat neurological diseases other then epilepsy, such as autism and migraine. Other institutions have successfully used the diet to treat medical disorders, such as Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and liver disease (Pérez-Guisado, 2007).
The Paleolithic ketogenic diet is an animal fat and protein based diet. The first scientific study that used a diet close to the Paleolithic ketogenic diet was published in 1930 (McClellan and Du Bois, 1930). Vilhjalmur Stefansson was an anthropologist and arctic traveler was both the administrator and participant in the investigation. Stefansson was convinced that the Arctic Inuit people’s fat and meat-based diet was a full-value and healthy diet. To prove this, he a fellow-traveler took part in a year-long study where they only ate animal fat and meat, without vitamin or mineral supplements. According to the medical records of the study, both participants remained healthy during the study. They had no signs of kidney problems or symptoms of vitamin deficiency.
The reproduction of the Stone Age diet as the basic idea behind Paleolithic nutrition appeared first in gastroenterologist Walter L. Voegtlin’s book (Voegtlin, 1975). In his ambitious work of theoretical and practical bases, Voegtlin states that an animal meat-fat diet is considered to be the only diet that is a perfect fit for the physiological functioning of people. Voegtlin also states that raw vegetables should be completely excluded, and fermented vegetables can be eaten in moderation, while eating fruits is only acceptable if eaten in small amounts and not regularly. Nora Gedgaudas’s book, which integrates the latest scientific advances, also argues in favor of the animal fat-based Paleolithic diet (Gedgaudas, 2011).
The naming of the Paleolithic diet is coming from Loren Cordain. When Cordain created his ideal diet, he looked to the naturally living peoples for inspiration. Cordain’s original idea was that the Paleolithic diet would be based on lean meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables (Cordain, 2002). It is less known, but Cordain had reservations against oilseeds and pseudo grains. Another major figure in developing the Paleolithic diet was Staffan Lindeberg, who was originally a family physician. He spent several years in the 1990s observing the diets of the natives on the island of Kitava, which is in the Pacific Ocean. He took these observations back to the Swedish people, and drew conclusions in favor of the Paleolithic diet (Lindeberg, 2009).
The Paleo diet quickly became popular in Hungary, partly due to the inefficient health care system. For these same reasons, a demand to integrate the paleo approach into medicine also appeared. Due to the large number of patients we treated, we quickly received feedback that helped us refine the Paleolithic diet. Patient feedback was consistent and it pointed to the direction of Voegtlin’s original nutritional system. Voegtlin as a clinician drew the conclusion, that we did: an animal meat-fat based diet that we call Paleolithic ketogenic diet is the most effective tool for the treatment of the diseases of civilization.
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Dear reader! The paleolithic ketogenic diet is the intellectual property of Paleomedicina Hungary. It is originating from the colleagues of Paleomedicina Hungary: dr. Zsófia Clemens, brain researcher, biologist and dr. Csaba Tóth, physician. We can say that developing the paleolithic ketogenic diet is a milestone in nutritional science. Using the paleolithic ketogenic diet enabled us to reverse chronic internal diseases which are currently regarded as incurable.
As you can read above, the paleolithic ketogenic diet follows from the work of several excellent scientists: physicians, medical anthropologists and biologists. It is not an exaggeration to say that the paleolithic ketogenic diet is the healthy diet itself. Our results with the paleolithic ketogenic diet are getting published at scientific forums. Although there are many theorists publishing on the healhy diet in general, our work is based on clinical experience. The paleolithic ketogenic diet is a tool of the evolutionary medicine, an esteemed center of which is Paleomedicina Hungary. Our activities not only include clinical work but we are also involved in research as well. Much emphasis is placed on intestinal permeability including it’s development and it’s reversal by diet.
Contents that are novel and relevant are usually protected by patent rights. The paleolithic ketogenic diet, as a medical tool, is however not patentable according to the law, given that this is generally not permitted for the curative methods to the human body. We are not sponsored by any companies with business activity. We do neither want to get engaged with any market players in the future. Your contribution is an acknowledgement of our work which also helps us to accomplish our next research aims. We hope that getting acquainted with the paleolithic ketogenic diet would help you to recover from your disease. If you decide to support us with 30 EUR, please transfer the amount to our bank account:
Paleomedicina Hungary Kft, CIB Bank, IBAN: HU54-107005986845167150100002, SWIFT: CIBHHUHB, Address of the bank: Budapest, Medve u. 4, H-1027 Hungary
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Zsófia Clemens, PhD