On the Paleo diet, you’re cutting out bread, grains, and processed foods… so naturally, you’re decreasing your sugar intake. So is the Paleo diet good for diabetics?
Currently, the research looking at the impact of a Paleo diet on diabetes control looks promising.One small 2009 randomized control trial found that compared with a diabetic diet, patients with type 2 diabetes who followed a Paleo diet for three months lost more weight and inches off their waist. They also saw reductions in their HbA1c and cholesterol while seeing improvements in their good HDL cholesterol.
Other studies (here, here, and here) have echoed these short-term improvements too. A 2015 study also found that individuals with type 2 diabetes who followed a Paleo diet were able to improve their blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol in just two weeks.
The only problem with these studies is that the sample sizes are generally (embarrassingly) small, and the duration of the studies are (incredibly) short, meaning we have no information about patients’ ability to maintain weight loss and metabolic improvements in the long run.
We also aren’t sure about the long-term implications of a diet high in saturated fat (as promoted on the Paleo diet) since the 2015 study that showed improvements in blood markers did not include any red meat, which is often consumed on a typical Paleo diet. Rather, the patients were given lean protein sources like fish, chicken, and unsaturated fats to result in their health improvements.
While the early research we have to date looks exciting for the role of a Paleo-like diet for people with diabetes, we probably need longer studies and more specific guidelines on fat sources to be able to confidently make recommendations.
We think it’s safe to say it’s still a better diet than eating one high in sugar and processed foods, so if you want to give it a go, check out the Paleo beginner’s guide, where you’ll find tips to get started, the dos and don’ts, and a list of other health benefits you might experience while going caveman.