Science Daily reported on the results of a brief Swedish study that found a paleo-type diet beats the much-lauded Mediterranean-type diet when it comes to controlling blood sugar. 29 participants, each with glucose intolerance and coronary heart disease (and some with type 2 diabetes), were split into two groups and instructed to follow either a paleo diet, with no grains or dairy, or a Mediterranean diet with lots of whole grains and low-fat dairy (why always low-fat dairy? The Mediterranean diet, the real one that actual people in the Mediterranean eat, isn’t founded on skimmed milk and low-fat cheese). After three months, the paleo eaters had normal blood glucose, and a much lower blood sugar response to dietary carbohydrates. They also lost more inches around the waist.
I think it’s great that somebody, finally, did a formal study involving a paleo diet. I hope there are more to come. I do, however, take issue with a few things. First, the paleo eaters were advised to eat lean meat. There’s some controversy in the paleo world about how much fat would have been in our natural diets: Cordain thinks lean meat is the way to go, while others note that although game meat is in fact leaner than feedlot meat raised on grains, traditional hunters relied on fat, sought it out, and knew that a lack of fat eventually resulted in “rabbit starvation”.
Second, the article states that “substances in grains and dairy products have been shown to interfere with the metabolism of carbohydrates and fat in various studies.” Uh, guys? When you’re talking diabetes and heart disease, carbohydrates themselves are the problem. There are substances in grains and dairy products – namely gluten and casein – that cause a whole crapload of additional problems (would you like some rheumatoid arthritis with your coronary?) I’m not sure what they were getting at with this statement. I’m not sure they were sure. In fact, I’m sure they weren’t sure. Surely.
Finally, the paleo eaters had a marked improvement in insulin response to carbohydrates – meaning, their blood sugar didn’t skyrocket anymore when they ate carbs. I am waiting for someone to interpret this as “Three months on the paleo diet, and I can eat cookies without shooting up!” or some such nonsense. When you’re eating natural foods, like meat, natural fats, veggies, nuts etc, your blood sugar stays stable. You don’t get the hunger spikes and energy crashes. If you’re diabetic, or want to avoid becoming so, paleo eating can be great for you provided you keep it lower carb…so you go easy on the high-sugar fruits, for example. Berries are better than bananas. Keeping the diet low carb will keep blood sugar stable, and diabetes controlled or at bay (and you get the added bonus of shedding body fat and staying slim).
Overall, I’m thrilled that the caveman WOE (way of eating) finally made news. PaleoSlim shakes and NeanderBars should be just around the corner. *shudder*