Tuesday 31 January 2017

Thesis of Leo Pruimboom: The lifestyle of hunter-gatherers calms the immune system

Mimicking a hunter-gatherer lifestyle has a beneficial effect on health. This is the conclusion of the thesis of Leo Pruimboom PhD, psycho-neuro-immunologist and also the founder of clinical psycho-neuro-immunology. He gained his doctorate in this subject on the 30th of January 2017 at the University Medical Centre in Groningen (UMCG).


A ten-day mimic of a hunter-gatherer lifestyle has a beneficial effect on various health-related parameters. This was proven by Leo Pruimboom within the framework of his doctoral research involving 51 healthy test subjects and two people with fibromyalgia. Significant decreases in body weight, BMI and median values of (among other things) insulin, triglycerides and total cholesterol were observed.


Leo Pruimboom: “The starting point for my research was the hypothesis that a lack of physical exercise must be regarded as the only actual cause of almost all diseases suffered by humans. In addition, many modern foods and stress factors also have a negative impact on health because of their effect on the immune system.”


Selfish immune system

In the theoretical part of his thesis, Leo Pruimboom demonstrates that the immune system shows a sort of selfish behaviour during both acute and chronic activity. He refers to this as the selfish immune system. Chronic activation of the immune system is caused by, for example, overeating, sitting for protracted periods of time, insufficient sleep, physical inactivity and unresolved psycho-emotional problems. The sum of the risk factors leads to chronic activation of the stress axes and to bacteria entering the bloodstream. This causes a chronic low-grade inflammation.


According to Leo Pruimboom, chronic low-grade inflammations should be regarded as the cause of most, if not all, chronic non-communicable diseases. He states that exposure to stress factors from our past as hunter-gatherers can have a beneficial effect on health and could help to prevent typical Western diseases of civilisation.


Leo Pruimboom

Leo Pruimboom PhD is a psycho-neuro-immunologist, physiotherapist and physiologist. He works as an independent scientific advisor, researcher and trainer at the Natura Foundation, plus other organisations. The doctoral research at the UMCG took place within the GUIDE research institute, as part of the Lifestyle Medicine research programme.


The full scientific publication can be read here:


Date of obtaining doctorate: 30th January 2017.
Supervisors: Prof. F.A.J. Muskiet (UMCG), Prof. C. Raison (Emory University, US)