Paleolithic Diet for Diabetes
- A long-term controlled study at Lund University in Sweden using pigs, and a short-term human clinical trial, also completed there, strongly indicate that the Paleolithic diet, or Stone Age diet, is effective. It restored proper insulin response, lowered blood pressure and diminished C-reactive proteins (a byproduct of systemic inflammation), and subjects also lost fat around their midsections.
Related work also looks positive. Nevertheless, some scientists remain skeptical and more research is underway.
See Your Doctor
- Check with your physician. Some elements of the Paleolithic diet may not work well for you. A baseline blood test may be in order as well, so ask.
What to Eat
- Eat plenty of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. Berries, being high in fiber, are particularly good. Eat the peels as well as the interior flesh of your fruits and vegetables. The peel contains most of the nutritional value and fiber.
Paleolithic protein sources would most likely have come from fish and grass-grazing animals, whose flesh would generally have been leaner than that of the corn-fed animals we eat today. Some researchers say, however, that Stone Age people would also have taken in precious calories by eating bone marrow. It is not a fat-free diet, but avoid saturated fats. Use oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as extra virgin olive oil, walnut oil and flaxseed oil.
Wild game is an ideal protein choice for the Paleolithic diet. Not everyone has access to wild game, though, so wild fish, free-range meat sources and grass-fed animals are reasonable substitutes.
What to Shun
- Dairy products would not have been available, because animals were not domesticated. Because of that, our bodies did not evolve to efficiently process dairy. Replace dairy with more dark green leafy vegetables, a good source of calcium.
The complex carbs that we get in vegetables and fruits are fine, but those natural foods that are mostly simple carbs such as sugar and potatoes are out. Legumes, too, are out. Potatoes and legumes are toxic when eaten raw, so Paleolithic people would not have eaten them; hence our bodies did not evolve to process them.
Grain-based foods are also out. Grains were not cultivated until tens of thousands of years after the Paleolithic era, so people then would not have eaten them except in tiny amounts. This means no flour and nothing made of flour, such as bread and pasta. Quinoa, a seed, is a good grain substitute, and ground almonds are good for baking and "breading." Neither will spike your blood sugar.
Why the Diet Could Fail: Boredom
- Limiting meals to simple plates of vegetables and meat will grow tiresome in a hurry. But Paleolithic eaters would have eaten what was available---that means everything edible. They would not have limited themselves to only three or four different vegetables and a few fruits. If you've never tried a certain vegetable, maybe you should. Herbs and spices, too, can introduce unique, satisfying flavors, so experiment. Also, think of vegetables as a side dish. Substitute potatoes with riced cauliflower, mashed turnips and rutabagas, and sliced, sautéed squash. They will not spike your blood sugar.
Finally, while food shopping, ask yourself, "Would a Stone Age person have had this?" If not, don't buy it.