Category Archives: Paleo diet

Which Tree Nut Provides the Most Omega-3 Fatty Acid?

David Mendosa says the answer is the macadamia nut.

Paleobetic diet

Macadamia nuts

A great thing about the macadamia nut is that it’s one of the few nuts with a good omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio. In other words, it’s high in omega-3 and low in 6. This may have important cardiovascular health implications. Macadamias are one of the nuts I recommend in the Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet and  Paleobetic Diet.

David writes:

The first Australian macadamia plantation didn’t begin until the 1880s. And not until 1954 with the introduction of mechanised processing did commercial production became viable. Nowadays about 90 percent of the the world’s macadamia nut production comes from Hawaii, where it has become its third most important crop, according to The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition, University of California at Berkeley (1992).

Read the rest, where you’ll learn that macadamia nuts are the highest of all nuts in calories, gram for gram.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Paleobetic diet

Macadamia nuts on the tree

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Filed under Heart Disease, Mediterranean Diet, nuts, Paleo diet

Radiologist With Type 1 Diabetes Thrives on Very Low Carb Diet

"Put down the bread and no one will get hurt!"

“Put down the bread and no one will get hurt!”

ABC Radio provides the audio and transcript of an interview with Dr. Troy Stapleton, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 41. Dr. Stapleton lives in Queensland, Australia. At the time of his diagnosis…

I was advised to eat seven serves of bread and cereals, two to three serves dairy, fruit, starchy vegetables, and to balance that intake with insulin. If you add up all those serves, they were recommending a diet of up to about 240 grams of carbohydrates a day, and to balance it with insulin. I was going to be the best patient, and there has been some important trials that show that if you do control your blood glucose well then you can reduce your incidence of the complications.

Dr. Stapleton believes we evolved on a very low carbohydrate diet; the Agricultural Revolution led to our current high carb consumption. He was concerned about the risk of hypoglycemia with standard diabetic diets.

There was a different approach where essentially you went on a very low carbohydrate diet, this made a little bit of sense to me. Why would I eat carbohydrates and then have to balance it with insulin?

Here’s what the diabetes educators told him:

What they say is you need to estimate the amount of carbohydrate you’re going to eat, and then you need to match that carbohydrate dose essentially with an insulin dose. So you sort of look at your food and you go, okay, I’m having 30 grams of carbohydrate and I need one unit of insulin per 15 grams of carbohydrate, so two units. It sounds really quite straightforward, except that it’s very, very difficult to estimate accurately the amount of carbohydrate you’re eating. The information on the packets can be out by 20%. Most people say that your error rate can be around 50%.

And then of course it changes with what you’ve eaten. So if you eat carbohydrates with fat and then you get delayed absorption, then that glucose load will come in, and then the type of carbohydrates will alter how quickly it comes in to your bloodstream. And then of course your insulin dose will vary, your absorption rate will vary by about 30%. Once you think through all the variables, it’s just not possible. You will be able to bring your blood glucose under control, but a lot of the time what happens is you get a spike in your glucose level immediately after a meal, and that does damage to the endothelium of your blood vessels…

Norman Swan: The lining.

Troy Stapleton: That’s correct, it causes an oxidative stress to your endothelium, and that is the damage that diabetes does, that’s why you get accelerated atherosclerosis.

Here’s what happened after he started eating very low carb:

It’s been amazing, it’s been the most remarkable turnaround for me and I just cut out carbohydrates essentially completely, although I do get some in green leafy vegetables and those sorts of things. My blood sugar average on the meter has gone from 8.4 [151 mg/dl] down to 5.3 [95 mg/dl]. My HbA1c is now 5.3, which is in the normal range. My blood pressure has always been good but it dropped down to 115 over 75. My triglycerides improved, my HDL improved, so my blood lipid profile improved. And I would now have a hypoglycaemic episode probably about once a month after exercise. [He was having hypoglycemia weekly on his prior high carb diet with carb counting insulin adjustments.]

He was able to reduce his insulin from about 27 units a day down to 6 units at night only (long-acting insulin)! He admits his low insulin dose may just reflect the “honeymoon period” some type 1s get early on after diagnosis.

Norman Swan: So when you talk to your diabetes educator now, what does he or she say?

Troy Stapleton: Look, they’re interested, but they’ll tell me things and I’ll say, well, that’s actually not true. I’m quite a difficult patient, Norman.

He says he’s eating an Atkins-style diet. Combining the transcript and his notes in the comments section:  1) he doesn’t eat potatoes or other starchy vegetables or bread, 2) he eats meat, eggs, lots of starchy vegetable, some berries and tree nuts, olives, and cheese, 3) an occasional wine or low-carb beer, 4) coffee, and 5) he eats under 50 g/day of carbohydrate, probably  under 30 g. This is a low-carb paleo diet except for the cheese, alcohol, and coffee.  Cheese, alcohol and coffee are (or can be) low-carb, but they’re not pure paleo.

He notes that…

There is an adaption period to a very low carbohydrate diet which takes 4-6 weeks (ketoadaption). During this time symptoms include mild headaches, lethargy, cramps, carb cravings and occasional light headedness. These symptoms all pass.

Read or listen to the whole thing. Don’t forget the comments section. All the blood sugars you see there are in mmol/l; convert them to mg/dl (American!) by multiplying by 18.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Filed under Carbohydrate, ketogenic diet, Paleo diet

Should Diabetics Avoid or Seek Fruit?

Advanced Mediterranean Diet, paleo diet, paleobetic diet

Grapes probably destined for wine

Newly diagnosed type 2 diabetics have no need to avoid fruit …according to an article in Nutrition Journal.  Fruit is a prominent component of the Mediterranean and paleo diets.  It can be good for us, containing phytonutrients, fiber, etc.  But fruit has the potential to increase blood sugars, too, which may be harmful over the long run.  So whadda you do?

Researchers took newly diagnosed type 2 diabetics and split them into two groups. One group was told to eat at least two pieces of fruit daily, the other was told to eat no more than two pieces.

The researchers conclusions:

A recommendation to reduce fruit intake as part of standard medical nutrition therapy in overweight patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes resulted in eating less fruit. It had however no effect on HbA1c, weight loss or waist circumference. We recommend that the intake of fruit should not be restricted in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Read the full research report.

PS: I haven’t read the full report yet.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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How About the Paleo Diet for Diabetes?

Not Dr. Frassetto

Dr. Lynda Frassetto is a Professor of Medicine and Nephrology at the University of California San Francisco.  She and her colleagues have completed a study of the Paleolithic diet as a treatment for diabetes (type 2, I think).  As far as I know, details have not yet been published in the medical literature.

Dr. Frassetto spoke at the Ancestral Health Symposium-2012 earlier this year.  You can view the 35-minute video here.

She is convinced that a paleo diet, compared to a Mediterranean-style diet, is better at controlling blood sugars and “reducing insulin” in diabetics (presumably type 2s).  Insulin sensitivity is improved, particularly in those with insulin resistance to start with.  The paleo diet group saw an average drop of fasting glucose by 23 mg/dl (1.3 mmol/l).  One slide you’ll see in the video indicates the paleo diet reduced absolute hemoglobin A1c by 0.3%, compared to 0.2% with the “Mediterranean” diet.  (Let me know if I got the numbers wrong.)

Color me underwhelmed so far.

Questions raised by the video include:

  • what is the UCSF version of the paleo diet?
  • how many participants were in her study?
  • how long did her study last?
  • did she study only type 2 diabetics?
  • what exactly was the control diet?
  • how severe were the cases of diabetes studied?

For answers, we await publication of the formal report.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: I’m quite interested in the paleo diet as a treatment for diabetes.  I explore the concept at the Paleo Diabetic blog.

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My Paleo Diet Trial

For the last year, I’ve been pondering whether the paleo diet has anything to offer folks with diabetes or prediabetes.  The paleo diet, by the way, is also called the Paleolithic, Stone Age, Old Stone Age, hunter-gatherer, or caveman diet.  It definitely has some potential as a diabetes management approach.  I’ve been eating paleo-style for the last three months.

Why am I trying it?

  • Direct experience with implementation obstacles
  • Potential health benefits

My first Parker Paleo Diet meal: sautéed mixed veggies and pan-fried chicken breast

My current version of paleo is not designed for someone with diabetes or prediabetes.  That may come in the future.  By “current version,” I mean I’ll quite likely tweak it over the coming months.

Here’s what I’ve been eating (or not) on the Parker Paleo Diet:

FORBIDDEN FOODS: Grains (e.g., corn, wheat, rice), Dairy, Legumes (peanuts, beans, peas, green beans), Industrial Vegetable Oils (soybean, corn, safflower, etc.), Alcohol, Refined Sugars.

PROTEINS: Meat, fish/seafood, eggs, poultry, and wild game.  Bacon OK; minimize other processed meats.

NUTS & SEEDS: Especially walnuts, macadamia, cachews, almonds.  Limit to 1-2 oz/day.

FRUITS: Limit 2 pieces/day?

VEGETABLES:

Lower-Carb: Greens (lettuce, spinach, chard, collard, mustard geen, kale), radicchio, endive, bok choy, herbs, celery, radishes, mushrooms, cabbage, jicama, avocado, asparagus, okra, cucumbers, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, summer squash, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, green onions, tomatoes, eggplant, tomatillos, eggplant, artichokes, turnips, rutabagas, spaghetti squash, carrots, onions, leeks, water chestnuts (small serving).  This list generally starts with the lower carb items and gradually increases to higher carb grams.  All these have 5 or fewer carbs per serving; most are  much less.

Starchy, Higher-Carb: Beets (6 g, GI 64), winter squashes (acorn, butternut), water chestnuts, parsnips (9 g, GI 97), potatoes (35 g, GI 87), sweet potatoes, (20 g, GI 61), cassava (37 g), taro (21 g), plantains.  Some categorize carrots as starchy.

HERBS & SPICES: Cilantro, parsley, basil, rosemary, thyme, etc.  Salt (minimal), pepper, vinegar.

OILS: Extra virgin olive, canola, flax, avocado.

CONDIMENTS: Olive oil vinaigrettes, mayonnaise from olive oil & egg yolk, and ?

LIQUIDS: H2O, coffee, tea

After two months of paleo eating, I summarized my experience at Paleo Diabetic.

By the way, I don’t have diabetes or prediabetes.  The paleo diet has some potential benefit for those conditions, particularly as compared to the standard American diet.  Ideally, I’d like to see more clinical studies before recommending it.  Dr. Frassetto and colleagues at the University of California-San Francisco should be publishing their results soon.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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Comprehensive List of Low-Carb Vegetables

A half cup of sliced bell pepper has about 2 grams of digestible carbohydrate

Laura Dolson over at About.com has a helpful list of low-carb veggies.  Helpful if you:

  • experience excessive blood sugar spikes from high-carb items
  • are restricting carbs for weight management
  • are eating a Paleo Diabetic diet

-Steve

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Filed under Paleo diet, Vegetables, Weight Loss

Jimmy Moore Interviews Keith Runyan, M.D.

Jimmy posted a recent interview with type 1 diabetic Dr. Keith R. Runyan, who is a nephrologist and internist.

Dr. Runyan is training for his first Great Floridian Triathlon in October, 2012, so he naturally has a great interest in high level athleticism as it intersects with diabetes.

Dr. Runyan’s current carb consumption level didn’t come up specifically in the interview, but his website indicates he’s on a ketogenic diet heavily influenced by Dr. Richard Bernstein.  So I figure he’s eating under 50 grams of digestible carbohydrate daily.  He also tried Loren Cordain’s paleo diet; my sense is that it didn’t help much with his diabetes, but perhaps some.

Overall, the interview strongly supports carbohydrate-restricted eating for folks with diabetes.  Definitely worth a listen for anyone with diabetes who’s not sold on a very-low-carb diet.  If you’re sitting on the fence, at least check out his “About Me” page.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Triathlon: run, swim, bike

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Filed under Carbohydrate, Exercise, Inspiration, Paleo diet