“Let Food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates
What is a Paleo Diet?
The Paleo Diet is one of the latest and hottest lifestyle trends to date. Celebrities endorse it some and restaurants are starting to serve Paleo style foods to keep their customers satisfied.
The Term “Paleo” is short for Paleolithic, an era that occurred at least 2.6 million years ago, and generally refers to the “caveman” lifestyle in regards to the popular diet. It is a nutritional approach that focuses only on foods that were available to humans during that period. Typically, these foods are high in nutrients, unprocessed and without artificial colors or additives.
The purpose of this lifestyle is to return our eating habits to a prehistoric state as it is hypothesized that our ancestors were unaffected by medical conditions experienced today. The foods they ate actually supplied the body with the right nutrients and allowed it to properly adapt to its environment.(3)There are multiple interpretations of the paleo diet. Some can be extremely strict, but for the most part the general guidelines are listed below:(3)
|What to Eat:||What to Avoid:|
- Grains- Wheat, Oats, Barley
- Legumes- Beans, Lentils, Peanuts
- Oils- Walnut Oil, Coconut Oil
- Meat- Lean, Grass-fed Animals/Wild Game
“When we began to eat foods created in factories rather than grown on farms, we moved steadily away from health-promoting nutrition and towards building our bodies’ tissues from synthetic, nutrient-poor food like substances. Isn’t it obvious that problems would arise?”- Diana Sanfilippo
What Effect does a Paleo diet have on Type 2 Diabetes?
There are over hundreds of Paleo Diet case studies being conducted on a daily basis; Research is currently on going to determine the relationship between Paleo and Type 2 diabetes. Tests conducted to determine these relationships focus on cholesterol panels, diabetic markers, and insulin sensitivity. A few of these examples are listed below:
Beneficial Effects of a Paleolithic Diet on Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Cross-over Pilot Study
A study conducted by Jonsson et al., set to determine the various differences in biological effects between the consumption of a standard Diabetic diet and the Paleo diet. Thirteen participants diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and currently taking oral medication, consumed both diets in three-month intervals. The orders of the intervals were random, allowing some to start with the Paleo while others started in the reverse. After each cycle, it was determined that the standard diabetic diet consists of fruit, vegetables, fiber, whole-grained products and a reduction of total fat with more unsaturated fats. This diet would have its energy sources come from carbohydrates and fiber. The Paleo Diet allowed lean meats, raw fruits and vegetables, eggs and nuts. This diet excluded dairy, grains, sugar, alcohol and reduced salt intake. The paleo diet had lower total energy, energy density, carbohydrates, dietary glycemic load, fiber, saturated fatty acids, and calcium, but higher in unsaturated fatty acids, dietary cholesterol, and several vitamins and minerals.
The study hosted 13 participants all with the diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes and who were also currently taking oral medication. The participants all consumed both of the diets (paleo and standard diabetic diet), for 3 months. Some of the participants started with the paleo diet followed by diabetes diet and others started in the reverse order. After each of the 3 months cycles, the Paleo diet had a significantly lower mean value of hemoglobin A1C, triglycerides, blood pressure, weight, body mass index, and elevated levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
Metabolic and Physiologic Improvements from Consuming a Paleolithic, Hunter-gatherer Type Diet
Another study was conducted by Frassetto, studied participants during a 20 day period. Participants were able to consumer their usual daily diet for 3 days, then for the next 7 days added in potassium and fiber, then for the last 10 days adhered to a paleo diet. The study determined that in in a small time period, the paleo diet could improve BP, cholesterol panels and increase insulin sensitivity.
Metabolic and Physiologic Effects from Consuming a Hunter-gatherer (Paleolithic)-type Diet in Type 2 Diabetes
Last example is from Masharani et al, who conducted a study on 24 metabolically controlled diabetics participants. The participants were split up in groups of 14 and 10, the 14 participant group consumed a Paleo diet and the remaining 10 participants had a non-Paleo diet. The non-Paleo diet had grains and dairy products. Metabolic improvements were noted in both groups; those on the Paleo diet had greater improvements in glucose control and lipid panel.
“We are not smarter than nature. We cannot make food better than nature. We need to eat real, whole food-Period.” –Diana SanfilippoGet Tested First!
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1. Jönsson, Tommy et al. “Beneficial Effects of a Paleolithic Diet on Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Cross-over Pilot Study.” Cardiovascular Diabetology 8 (2009): 35. PMC. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.
2. Sanfilippo, Diane, Bill Staley, and Robb Wolf. Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-foods Lifestyle. Second ed. Las Vegas: Victory Belt, 2016. Print.
3. “Paleo Diet: What Is It and Why Is It so Popular?” Mayo Clinic. N.p., 27 Aug. 2014. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.
4. Frassetto LA, Schloetter M, Mietus-Synder M, Morris RC Jr, Sebastian A. Metabolic and physiologic improvements from consuming a paleolithic, hunter-gatherer type diet. Eur J Clin Nutr 2009; 63 : 947-955.doi:
5. Metabolic and physiologic effects from consuming a hunter-gatherer (Paleolithic)-type diet in type 2 diabetes. U. Masharani, P. Sherchan, M. Schloetter, S. Stratford, A. Xiao, A. Sebastian, M. Nolte Kennedy, L. Frassetto Eur J Clin Nutr. 2015 Aug; 69(8): 944–948. Published online 2015 Apr 1. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2015.39