Grain-Free Diet Reduces Blood Sugar Levels and Waist Size

Eating a Stone-Age-type diet with no grain products is considerably more effective at lowering blood sugar levels and reducing waist sizes than the often-recommended Mediterranean diet that contains whole-grain foods, according to a study by Staffan Lindeberg, MD, PhD, and his colleagues at Lund University in Sweden.

In the study, the researchers asked 14 patients to consume an “ancient” (Paleolithic or Stone-Age) diet with lean meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, eggs, and nuts, but no grains or dairy products. Fifteen other patients were asked to follow a Mediterranean-like diet that included some of the above foods along with whole-grain foods and low-fat dairy products. Both groups of the patients had serious heart disease, plus either type 2 diabetes or a less severe form of glucose intolerance.

After three months, people eating the Stone-Age diet had an average 26 percent decrease in blood sugar levels and an average 2.2-inch (or 5.6-cm) drop in waist circumference. By comparison, those eating the Mediterranean diet had only a 7 percent decrease in blood sugar levels and 1.1-inch (or 2.9-cm) decrease in waist circumference. People in the Stone-Age diet group also had a tendency toward lower insulin levels.

Study reference: Lindeberg S, Jonsson T, Granfeldt Y, et al. A Paleolithic diet improves glucose intolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischemic heart disease. Diabetologia, 2007;50:1795-1807.

Melissa’s Comments:

Before the advent of agriculture, our ancestors ate lean meat, fish, vegetables, fruits and nuts. They didn’t eat grains, sugars or dairy products. They also didn’t have the diseases that we do today. Neither did hunter-gatherer societies around the world, as I’ve explained in both my Syndrome X and Going Against the Grain books. According to an article in Science, Lindeberg got the idea for this study when he learned in the 1990s that Papua New Guinea’s Trobiand islanders – hunter-gatherers – had no heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

Although a hunter-gatherer diet is the original diet of humans, this study is significant because it is the first controlled study of the Stone Age diet in humans. Most studies of diet and diabetes focus on intakes of fat, carbohydrate, and fiber. This study focuses on our historical diet versus a more recently introduced, commonly prescribed diet of today. The study shows in no uncertain terms that when we eat the types of foods humans were designed to thrive on, food is our best medicine for reversing the overweight and diabetes problems we have in record numbers today. The diet that proved so therapeutic in this study is essentially the same diet I outline in Going Against the Grain, Syndrome X, and User’s Guide to Preventing and Reversing Diabetes Naturally.

Grains and milk are relatively new additions to the diet of man. Lindeberg suspects that substances in grains and milk may impair glucose intolerance, just as they do in studies with rats. For that reason, to prevent or reverse diabetes, it’s better to avoid or limit modern foods such as grains and dairy products than to count calories or carbohydrates.

© Copyright 2008 Melissa Diane Smith

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