Glucose Levels Improve
Eaton, Cordain, and other advocates of a Paleo diet contend that we can reduce our risk of disease by eating more like our ancestors. And various research supports their claim.
In one 2007 study of 29 patients with serious heart disease (plus either prediabetes or type 2 diabetes), a Paleo-style diet was far better than the popular Mediterranean diet when it came to improving blood sugar and slimming waistlines.
The study's Paleo diet consisted of lean meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, but no grain-based foods. After 12 weeks, subjects eating this way saw an average 26 percent decrease in their blood sugar levels — almost four times better than those on the Mediterranean diet.
In the Paleo era, it's estimated that people consumed 19 to 35 percent of their calories as protein. This amount is higher than what most Americans eat. Ancient peoples also consumed an astonishing 100 different types of vegetables or fruits. All those veggies provided more than 100 grams of fiber daily. Today, Americans on average don't even come close to the minimum requirement of 25 to 35 grams daily. The fruits and vegetables we consume the most of are typically the lowest in fiber.
Our ancestors' vitamin and mineral intake was much higher than ours today, too, and they ate a healthy, low-sodium, high-potassium diet without trying. Fresh veggies and fruits are rich in potassium.
A modern version of a Paleo diet does require self-discipline. It's easiest if you think of it in terms of eating fresh, whole foods in their natural state — fish, poultry, grass-fed meat, shellfish, nuts and seeds, and lots of non-starchy veggies. If you eat this way — even most of the time — you are sure to see benefits in both your waistline and your blood sugar.
Reviewed by Susan Weiner, RD, MS, CDE, CDN. 05/12.
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