Paleos Potential In Diabetes Management
The modernized version of the Paleo diet began gathering attention around 2008. Along with its growing popularity, individuals living diabetes have started to question if following a Paleo-based lifestyle is a healthy alternative to more commonly supported or standardized diabetes diets.
The simplest answer to that general inquiry is that there is still a lot of scientific evidence and research need to firmly say yes, but research continues to mount supporting its benefits in those battling with poor blood sugar control, either on the verge of being diagnosed with diabetes or already living with the disease.
Advocates of the Paleo diet believe that the human race hasnt evolved efficiently from a metabolic sense to be able to adapt to changes in the standard Western diet as a result of recent agricultural developments. From a biochemical standpoint, the body has no way to thrive on the more recently developed processed creations that fund the food industry.
According to the Paleo diets biggest supporters, instead the Western diet has cause the population as a whole to suffer from chronic diseases associated with the modern world, in particular diabetes, which is now epidemic.
Statements such as Cordains have sparked interest in the scientific world, and researchers in support of the Paleo diet are building their case around the benefits of going back to our prehistoric roots in an effort to improve overall health.
Can A Paleo Diet Benefit People With Diabetes
Because it focuses on nutrient-dense foods, avoiding processed ingredients, sugar, and grains, a Paleo diet is likely to be lower in carbohydrate content than a more traditional western diet. Minimizing the number of carbohydrates, while consuming more foods that are lower on the glycemic index, such as non-starchy vegetables, may help more effectively manage blood glucose levels. In fact, some researchers suggest that limiting carbohydrate intake should be the main tool for managing type 2 diabetes and an important supportive treatment to insulin therapy for type 1 diabetes.
Several studies have been conducted to evaluate the effects of the Paleo diet on type 2 diabetes management, demonstrating the potential health benefits of the diet. Specifically, research studies indicate that adhering to a Paleo diet is effective in lowering BMI and A1C levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.
At least one study showed that a Paleo diet resulted in lower average triglycerides and blood pressure in type 2 diabetics in comparison to those following a more traditional diet. Research also suggests that eating Paleo, even for a short period, can result in improved insulin sensitivity and lipid profiles. Interestingly, when compared to a Mediterranean diet, following a Paleo diet resulted in significantly improved glucose tolerance in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Building Your Paleo Plate
Everyones plate is going to look a little bit different, depending on how much you exercise, your age and your personal lifestyle factors. Keeping a balance of foods, types of foods and even colors of foods in your daily diet will keep your taste buds satisfied and blood sugar levels stable!
So many times I see people become obsessed over the specifics of the Paleo diet, so my encouragement to you is keep the big picture in mind, focusing on eating real food!
Personally, after a few years of experience, I have found that this balance works fabulously for me! Divide your plate into sections to create a healthy, satisfying balance.
- 1/2 good quality animal fats and proteins and/or plant fats and proteins: grass-fed beef, pasture raised pork or chicken, lamb, bison, wild-caught fish, whole eggs, grass-fed butter or ghee, coconut oil, avocado oil or avocados, olive oil or olives, raw nuts and seeds
- 1/4 leafy greens or non-starchy fresh fruits and vegetables: spinach, arugula, kale, romaine, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes
- 1/4good quality starchy carbohydrates: sweet potatoes or yams, regular white potatoes, squashes , plantains, beets, parsnips, onions, carrots, bananas, apples, berries
*Keep in mind that the first half will include your cooking fats and oils as well as homemade salad dressings, sauces, etc.
Check out this paleo recipe: Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
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Best Diets For Diabetics
For our Best Diets of 2022 ranking, the Forbes Health editorial team created a Forbes Health Best Diets Panel of experts to analyze 19 diets in a variety of areas, including diabetic health.
The diets we identified as the Best Diets for People With Diabetes had the highest average scores across our panel of physicians and registered dietitians for diabetic health, which we defined as the diets ability to prevent type 2 diabetes or help diabetics manage their diabetes.
Be sure to consult your doctor before beginning a new diet or eating plan.
Is The Paleo Diet Right For You What To Consider Before Diving In
Stories like Cookseys certainly are not unheard-of, Dobbins says, because the bodies of people with type 2 diabetes do still produce insulin on their own, and it can be enough to process the small amount of carbohydrates in a paleo diet. But that doesnt mean paleo is a permanent solution.
Whether its paleo or any restricted-carb diet, yes, people may go off insulin , Dobbins says. But they may eventually need to go back on it, even if they dont change their diet. It depends on how exhausted the pancreas is. It may run out, wear out.
Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism,
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Is The Paleo Diet Good For Diabetes
The paleo diet is generally low in carbohydrates, which can potentially lead to better glycemic control.
In addition, some small preliminary studies have shown that the paleo diet can reduce the incidence of hypoglycemia, reduce the need for insulin, and can lead to more significant drops in glycated hemoglobin levels.
Since the Paleo diet eliminates all types of refined sugar from your diet, it is easier to avoid the spikes in blood glucose levels and the fatigue that comes with dropping sugar levels.
This ties paleo with other restrictive diets: complex rules and a narrow list of permitted foods lead to a host of problems.
Such a diet is difficult to follow, it is expensive and leads to dietary isolation from society: it may turn out that a person invited to lunch and dinner can never find anything on the menu to eat.
But we suggest following a printable 7-day meal plan which will make it easier and more effective to follow the paleo diet.
Diabetes And A Paleo Diet
Every minute, three people in the U.S. are diagnosed with diabetes, for a total of 20.9 million people living with the disease . Thats up from just 5.6 million in 1980. Currently, about 7% of people in the US have diabetes, but that doesnt actually tell the whole story. An estimated 86 million more have pre-diabetes (blood sugar high enough to be dangerous, but not enough to be diabetes.
Diabetes is sometimes called a lifestyle disease, meaning that its caused by lifestyle factors like diet and exercise, rather than a particular germ or gene. Its often associated with other lifestyle diseases like obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, because the same kinds of lifestyle patterns tend to cause more than one of those problems.
When the Paleo crowd starts talking about diabetes, we typically start from the fact that its almost unknown in traditional cultures, even among people in later middle-age. The natural suggestion from there is to eat like people in those cultures minimal processed and refined foods. But there are a few problems with this:
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The Reach Of Diabetes
Its a sobering statistic: Over 100 million, or more than one-third, of the U.S. population, has diabetes or pre-diabetes. According to the Center for Disease Control , over 30 million adults in the United States, or almost 10 percent of the population, have diabetes. Another 84 million adults, or almost 34 percent of the population, have pre-diabetes, a condition of moderately elevated blood glucose levels that often progresses to full-blown diabetes. In fact, up to 70 percent of pre-diabetes will progress to type 2 diabetes.
Globally, diabetes has been extending its reach at an unrelenting pace, with cases quadrupling since 1980 from 108 million to 422 million, and the costs are staggering. In 2017, the average medical expenditure per person with diabetes in the U.S. is almost $16,750 per year, with a population price tag of $327 billion. This is a 26 percent increase from 2012.
Alarmingly, children are experiencing a rise in diabetes as well. According to the American Diabetes Association , if incidence rates remain the same, the number of children with type 2 diabetes in the U.S. is projected to increase by almost 50 percent over the next 40 years.
Why The Paleo Diet Is Good For Blood Sugar Specifically Type 1 Diabetes
- Paleo friendly foods are rich in nutrients, keeping you satisfied and your blood sugar stable. When we remove processed foods and refined carbohydrates we lower the amount of blood sugar ups and downs, which is a key to success when managing and thriving with Type 1.
- Paleo friendly foods tend to be lower in carbohydrates or at least refined carbohydrates and sugars. This does not mean that the Paleo diet is low-carb but rather promotes a balance between good quality fats, proteins and natural carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, squashes, roots, berries, nuts and seeds and mineral-rich sweeteners like raw honey.
- Paleo friendly foods are rich in fats and proteins which actually are your bodys and brains best source of fuel. These nutrients enter your blood stream slowly so you avoid a lot of highs and lows your margin of error will be that much tighter and your blood sugar that much more stable! It may take your body up to a few months to transition to burning fats as fuel, so keep this in mind!
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When Youre Managing Diabetes And Prediabetes Your Eating Plan Is A Powerful Tool
But figuring out what to eat can feel like a hassle, right? Well, it doesn’t have to because there are easy things you can do to add flavor to your daily routineincluding healthy twists on your favorite foods.
One key to feeling your best lies in the food you eat. You can start by working with a registered dietitian nutritionist to make an eating plan that works for you. In it, be sure to include the foods you likeand dont be afraid to try something new.
Most importantly, remember that eating welland adding activity to your daily routine by moving moreare important ways you can manage diabetes. And were here to help you every step of the way.
Reversing Type 2 Diabetes
Reversing your diabetes is a tremendous achievement, but dietary vigilance will always be necessary. A person with type 2 diabetes will always have it. However, lowering carbohydrate intake can lower HbA1c to normal levels and improve other markers for diabetes, such as obesity and elevated insulin levels. The anecdotal evidence of people reversing their diabetes abounds and the scientific evidence is supportive.
For instance, in an ongoing trial by Virta Health, 292 participants under closely monitored remote care experienced dramatic results. After following a very low-carb ketogenic diet for a year, and receiving behavior change education, health coaching, peer support, and medication management by doctors, 60 percent of participants saw a reversal of diabetes and 94 percent of participants were able to reduce or eliminate their medications.
More research on low-carb diets involves different versions. Some are low-carb , and some are very low-carb like the Virta Health tria, while some are short term and others are longer term. However, across the carb spectrum and in both the short and long term, low-carb diets are beneficial for health and are especially effective in promoting blood sugar control, the central goal of diabetes treatment.
Low-carb diets have been shown to:
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The Term Paleo And General Recommendations
The concept behind the Paleo diet is based upon the belief that your optimal health is dependent upon adherence to somewhat specific dietary and lifestyle factors, factors which require very little genetic adaptation.
Those who support the Paleo diet believe that ones genetic make-up is overwhelmingly reflect of the Paleolithiceraof human cultural development. The Paleolithic era, also known as the Stone age, began roughly 750,000 to 2.5 million years ago and came to an around 10,000 years ago.
Paleolithic type diets , as you may already know, mimic the dietary patterns followed by our ancestors living during the pre-agricultural era. Also known as the hunter-gatherer era, our ancestors followed a diet composed of high levels of lean animal-source protein and uncultivated plant-source foods . Their diet was free from legumes or grains and was naturally lower in salt.
There are a number of version of the Paleo diet, thus it isnt set in stone however, in general it incorporates the following foods:
- Sugars (other than fruit or honey(
- Industrial seed oils
- Modern processed, highly refined foods
Carbs And Fat: Which Is Good And Which Is Bad
The USDA Diabetes food pyramid is based on a high-carb, low-fat diet. That approach gets a lot of scorn in Paleo circles, because it just doesnt seem to make much sense. To break down carbs and use them for energy, you need healthy insulin function. People with diabetes dont have healthy insulin function. So a carb-based diet will just keep them stuck in that awful cycle of sugar highs and crashes, right? How does that make sense?
A lot of recent research basically backs that up: low-carb diets can be very effective for Type 2 Diabetes. Some research shows that low-carb diets may be particularly effective for people with insulin resistance. But its worth noting that low-carb in these studies can be up to 40% carbs by calories, which is medium-high carb by Paleo standards .
These improvements arent coming from a straight diet of steak and lettuce. Some people might do very well on that a very low-carb ketogenic diet can also be great for diabetes. But other people might feel better with more carbs, especially in the context of other anti-diabetic lifestyle factors. This study found that, in teenagers, a low-calorie diet with 40-45% carbs was just as good as a diet with 55-60% carbs if the subjects exercised and took metformin.
This still doesnt mean that carbs cause diabetes. It does mean that for people who are already metabolically sick, reducing carbs can be a therapeutic option to treat the existing problem.
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Benefits Of The Paleo Diet
Paleo followers believe that eliminating certain foods in their diet will reduce inflammation in the body, and folks will enjoy health benefits like weight loss, reduced bloating, clearer skin, and more energy.
You may wonder why the Paleo Diet cuts out whole grains, dairy and legumes, when weve been told for decades that stuff is good for us?
The answer is that some health experts attribute the rise in heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and other diseases to our 10,000-year-old diet of agriculture. The fact is that most Americans consume far more carbohydrates than we really need on a daily basis, and our waistlines prove it. Many experts now believe that carbohydrates, especially processed foods but even grains, stimulate the appetite because the brain doesnt respond to the nutrients the same way it does to meats and vegetables. Think about it: how many of you can eat one tortilla chip after another without stopping? How many of you can say the same thing about chicken breast?
Legumes and whole grains contain some of the highest concentrations of anti-nutrients in any foods, Paleo founder Cordrain writes. These compounds frequently increase intestinal permeability and cause a condition known as leaky gut, a necessary first step in almost all autoimmune diseases. Further, a leaky gut likely underlies chronic, low-grade inflammation, which underlies not only autoimmune diseases, but also heart disease and cancer.
What Are The Benefits And Risks Of The Paleo Diet
For his paleo diet, Cooksey chooses whole foods rather than processed, packaged meals to help control his blood sugar levels. On a typical day, he might have a plate of eggs, greens, and bacon for breakfast tilapia and spinach for lunch and ribs with a low-carb barbecue sauce and mixed vegetables for dinner. Between meals, Cooksey munches on low-carb snacks like hard-boiled eggs, cheese, canned tuna, salmon, sardines, and certain vegetables, such as celery sticks, green peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower. He usually eats a full meal just once or twice a day.
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Why Some Experts Are Skeptical About Paleo For Good Health And Diabetes Management
Some experts have an issue with the fact that this eating plan almost completely eliminates certain food groups, like grains traditional wisdom would argue that its less healthy than a more well-rounded diet. A lot of nutrition experts would say the paleo diet is not balanced, Dobbins says.
How Does A Paleo Diet Work
How does a paleo diet work? Because most foods and ingredients on the diet are low in carbohydrate, the need for insulin is reduced within the body. This can help to prevent insulin resistance and reduce the risk of developing health problems such as high blood glucose levels and heart disease.
There are no fixed macronutrient ratios on a paleo diet, but paleo diet sources tend to agree that macros should be are around 20% carbs, 30% protein and 50% fat.
There is less need for strict portion control with paleo foods than there is for low-fat diets. However, be mindful not to over-indulge on foods such as fruit, nuts or excessive meat.
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