Diabetics and the Paleo Diet

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Diabetics and the Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet, low carb diet, protein and produce diet, keto diet and Miami Beach diet are all very similar.  There are many advocates of the Paleo diet because it is the way humans ate before agriculture.  Humans have been around for at least 300,000 years.  Some upright form of us, called homids, have been around for about 1,000,000 years.  In these early years we were hunter gatherers and foragers.  This means that we did not have agriculture.  We ate a lot of meat, killing the bear, Woolly mammoth, saber toothed tiger or other animals for food, and in between, especially during periods of famine, we would eat and forage for nuts, fruits, root vegetables, leaves or anything else we could find.  In this kind of diet (which is how we evolved over 300,000 years) we did not grow things, and therefore did not have grains, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, sugar, sweet drinks and many think that we did not drink animal milk.  So the argument goes if this is how we evolved why is that not the best diet for us.  After agriculture developed 10,000 years ago there was less famine because bread would store and we had a greater variety of foods to eat.

So what I recommend is the protein and produce diet.  When you go to the grocery store buy only from the perimeter of the grocery.  There is where you find protein and produce.  If you can avoid the processed foods, most of which contain lots of carbohydrates, then you are eating similarly to the Paleo diet.  Many of the experts think the Paleo diet is way too limiting and I tend to agree.  Therefore a modification of this called the protein and produce diet allows you to eliminate a number of things that cause a rapid rise in glucose making this especially good for diabetic type 2 diabetics and prediabetics.  I therefore recommend that you use the protein and produce diet to lower your weight and in so doing lower your A1c and average blood sugar.  This means avoiding bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, sugary drinks, desserts and candy.  While many feel that whole grain bread is better than white bread and has a better glycemic index I find that both are rapidly converted to sugar in the body and can raise the blood sugar rather quickly.  For people who are type II diabetic or  prediabetic, the protein and produce diet is a great way to start.  If by eliminating most of your carbs you are still either not losing weight or your blood sugar has not come down, then you will need to start counting calories.  The way to lose weight is first to figure out how many calories it takes just to maintain your body weight.  Let us say you are 250 pounds.  You would multiply 10×250 pounds to give you 2500 cal per day just to maintain your current body weight.  Many experts think that you need to eliminate 500 cal per day to lose weight.  You could do this by eliminating one Big Mac or one bag of popcorn per day.

Exercise is certainly important as well.  While exercise alone does not make you lose weight it certainly can increase your metabolism, make you feel better and reduce your risk for heart disease.  A combination of the protein and produce diet plus exercise is the best way to go.  Even better in terms of preventing cardiovascular disease is to eat the omega-3 fish twice a week.  These are the northern cold water fish which include salmon, tuna, trout, halibut, sardines, herring and anchovies which we are paradoxically eating for their fat.  The extra layer of fat keeps the fish warm in the icy cold northern waters, and contains omega-3 fatty acids which are thought to prevent coronary artery disease.  This is mostly based on demographic studies which show that the Inuits in Alaska and Greenland get less coronary disease than the rest of us.  In addition, the Japanese who live in Tokyo also get less coronary disease because of the high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in their diet.  When the same Japanese move to Honolulu their rates of coronary disease go back up to what the rest of us Americans have.

Here’s the take away message:  Eat fewer carbs, more fruits and vegetables and eat the omega-3 fish twice a week.  Eliminate or reduce bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, sugary drinks, desserts and candy.  Exercise daily putting in 10,000 steps per day.


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David G. Wilson, M.D.