UCSF Investigating Paleolithic Diet For Diabetics

  A May, 2010, press release from University of California San Francisco outlines the university’s research into use of the Paleolithic diet (aka Stone Age or caveman diet) for people with type 2 diabetes.  From the press release:

The initial research findings are striking. Without losing weight, participants in a preliminary study improved blood sugar control, blood pressure control and blood vessel elasticity. They lowered levels of blood fats such as cholesterol. And most amazingly, participants achieved these results in less than three weeks — simply by switching to a Paleolithic diet.

The lead researchers are nephrologist Lynda Frassetto and endocrinologist Umesh Masharani.  Frassetto and team had previously looked at metabolic improvements linked to the paleo diet.

We await publication of their current findings in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.  C’mon people, it’s 2012 already.  In the meantime, I prefer the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet.

Steve Parker, M.D.

6 Comments

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6 responses to “UCSF Investigating Paleolithic Diet For Diabetics

  1. Pingback: Low Carb Age » Paleo Diet for Diabetics » Low Carb Age

  2. Hmmmm … those benefits look exactly like the benefits found in numerous studies of a standard low carb diet. I’m speculating that the funding for this study was granted in part because the “paleo diet” is new and hasn’t been studied as much as the other carbohydrate restricted diets.

  3. Frank, good points. When it’s published, we can dissect it. Actual hunter-gatherer diets range in carb content from 20 to 45% of total energy. I consider the “average” paleo diet to be about a third of energy from carbs. And true hunter-gatherer diets tend to have very high fiber content (well over 50 g/day), which could help with glycemic control. (These carb percentages are from Eaton and Konner.)

  4. Peppy

    Dr. Parker, I enjoy reading your blog and find it to be a good mix of valuable diabetes information. In your quest to confirm the value of the Paleo Diet, or any other “diet,” As you know, diabetes is a complicated disease and sedentary lifestyle, genetics, and eating habits all play a role in the development of diabetes and we know that obesity is fast becoming an epidemic. But, there is a missing link. Perhaps, I have missed it, but I have never seen a reference here to the issue of food addiction. “According to Kay Sheppard a pioneer in the treatment of food addiction, ‘the term food addiction implies there is a biochemical condition in the body that creates a physiological craving for specific foods. This craving, and its underlying biochemistry, is comparable to an alcoholic’s craving for alcohol” (a refined carbohydrate). Just as alcohol is the substance that triggers the alcoholic’s disease, there are substances that trigger a food addict’s out-of-control eating.These substances are typically refined carbohydrates, sweeteners, fats and processed foods. These foods seem to affect the same addictive brain pathways that are influenced by alcohol and drugs.’” (http://www.foodaddictionsummit.org/foodaddiction.htm)
    Those of us, who believe that we are food (carb) addicts, need other types of treatment, in addition to proper eating suggestions. Some of us will die, as a result of our addiction (diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, liver disease), just as drug addicts may die of theirs. I am interested in your comments.

    • Hi, Peppy.
      I agree with much of what you say. My experience with the Atkins diet (2002?)convinced me I’m a “carbaholic.”
      Note how quickly sugar, flour, and alcohol spread like wildfire in “primitive” or hunter-gatherer cultures when they are/were introduced by Western exposure.
      Richard K. Bernstein’s latest edition of Diabetes Solution has six references to carbohydrate addiction in the index. On page 198, he writes, “Carbohydrate addiction is just as real as drug addiction, and in the case of the diabetic, it can likewise have disastrous results.” To combat carb cravings in his practice, he uses self-hypnosis, appetite suppressants, naltrexone, incretin mimetics (amylin analogs like pramlintide, GLP-1 mimetics like Byetta, and DPP-4 inhibitors like sitagliptin).

      -Steve

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