Paleolithic Diet Improves Glycemic Control, Cardiac Risk Factors Better Than Standard Diabetes Diet

by Melissa Diane Smith

In the first study to compare the Paleolithic hunter-gatherer diet and the conventionally recommended diabetes diet in people who have type 2 diabetes, the Paleolithic diet improved glycemic control and HDL-cholesterol and lowered blood pressure, weight, and waist circumference better than the diabetes diet over a three-month study period.

The small study published two months ago in the journal Cardiovascular Diabetology involved thirteen people with type 2 diabetes – 10 men and 3 women who were not being treated with insulin, who had an average age of 64, and who had had diabetes an average of nine years. On two separate 3-month periods, they were asked to consume one of two diets: (1) a Paleolithic “Old Stone Age” Diet, mostly consisting of eggs, fish, lean meats, nuts, fruits, and vegetables; or (2) a typical “Diabetes Diet,” a low-fat diet that emphasized low-glycemic fruit, whole grains and vegetables.

Blood tests conducted before and after each dietary phase showed the following results:

  • The Paleolithic Diet improved long-term blood sugar levels (as measured by hemoglobin A1c levels); reduced blood pressure, triglycerides, body fat, weight and waist size; and increased the amount of HDL “good” cholesterol, in comparison to the “Diabetes Diet.”
  • People who followed the Paleolithic diet ate a higher intake of fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, unsaturated fats, dietary cholesterol, and several vitamins, and had a significantly lower intake of grains, dairy products, and carbohydrates compared to those on the diabetes diet. The Paleo eaters also consumed a lower total caloric intake than those on the diabetes diet because people ate less due to the Paleo diet’s more-filling quality, according to the study authors.
  • The “Diabetes Diet,” which is considered “low-fat,” surprisingly turned out to be higher in fat than the Paleolithic diet as well as higher in carbohydrates, glycemic load and total calories.

Contrary to popular opinion, the Paleolithic diet was not “low-carbohydrate.” Those on the Paleolithic diet had an average intake of 125 grams of carbohydrate per day – lower than the 196 grams in the diabetes diet but only slightly below the 130 grams per day recommended by the American Diabetes Association. That amount is clearly above the 50 grams per day, the level proposed to term a diet a low-carbohydrate diet.

Ultimately, the authors of the study concluded that the beneficial results of this small study warrant a larger study with more people with type 2 diabetes.

Reference:

Jonsson, T, Granfeldt Y, Ahren B, et al. Beneficial effects of a Paleolithic diet on cardiovascular risk factors in type 2 diabetes: A randomized cross-over pilot study. Cardiovascular Diabetology, 2009 July 16; 8: 35 doi:10.1186/1475-2840-8-35 – View abstract/study.

Melissa’s Comments:

Evidence continues to keep reaffirming the benefits of eating against the grain. This time the study involved people who have had type 2 diabetes for an average of nine years and were taking drugs including anti-diabetic drugs, sometimes in combination with anti-hypertensive drugs and/or lipid-lowering statin drugs.

I have participated in book signings at diabetes and doctor conventions. (Talk about feeling like you’re going against the grain!) Anti-diabetic drugs and the conventionally recommended diabetes diet are what doctors, dietitians, and diabetes educators are repeatedly “educated” about in seminars sponsored by guess who? — manufacturers of those drugs. Keeping people sick on the wrong diet and keeping them taking drugs to “manage” their illness is big business. The drug companies who make outrageous amounts of money in turn dish out a lot of money to keep their brand of “education” going. Health practitioners who attend the conferences then pass that same information on to their patients. Why isn’t cutting-edge nutrition information like what I write about here ever presented at standard diabetes conferences? Because big-business food and drug companies who spend a lot of money at those conferences and in advertising in the country in general don’t want the word to get out, plain and simple. It would make a lot of diabetics healthier and in turn cut into the corporations’ profits.

If you know people who have diabetes who have been following the conventionally prescribed diabetes diet to a “T” and their health has been worsening, please direct them to this story and these other posts on this site:

Grain-Free Diet Reduces Blood Sugar Levels and Waist Size

Eating a Hunter-Gatherer Diet Reverses Diabetic Indicators in Just 7 Weeks

and of course, to my books, Going Against the Grain, Syndrome X, and User’s Guide to Preventing & Reversing Diabetes Naturally, too.

Many people simply have never heard the latest nutrition research that can help them.

In this age when corporations with a lot of money tend to control the information that gets out, the Internet is the great equalizer for the people. So, use the power of the ‘Net and help spread the word about this not-covered research. If each subscriber to my newsletter sends the info to a few people with diabetes or prediabetes that they know, and those people send it to a few more people, and so on, word can spread in no time, actually helping more and more people get better.

Copyright © 2009 Melissa Diane Smith

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