November is National Diabetes Month, so now is a great time to reflect upon the 26 million people who already have diabetes, as well as the nearly 80 million with pre-diabetes (those on high alert for developing the condition). If you fall into any of these groups, or know someone who does, take the time to consider what kinds of food choices may lead to better health.
Sometimes, better health means that weight loss is necessary. Obesity increases the risk for diabetes, and losing weight can help keep your blood glucose level on target.
Luckily, it may not be necessary to lose all those excess pounds to improve diabetes outcomes. Losing just 5-10% of your body weight can help lower your blood glucose, total cholesterol, and blood pressure levels. Here, we will outline one eating plan that can help people with diabetes lose weight, among many other possible benefits.
The Paleo Diet
Often, people do not make time to prepare their own meals or even monitor their food intake. This can lead to regular intake of packaged, processed foods. Many experts believe that this trend away from carefully prepared whole foods has contributed to the rise in obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.
A growing number of nutrition researchers and doctors now suggest that we try a return to simpler diets, based on grass-fed and free-range animal products, fresh seafood, and whole fruit, vegetables, seeds, and nuts.
The Paleo (Paleolithic) Diet, also known the Hunter-Gatherer Diet, is a healthy-eating plan based on fresh, unprocessed plants and animals. Even though it is modeled after human diets from thousands of years ago, the Paleo Diet consists of easy-to-find foods, such as fish, eggs, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and grass-fed meats. Most versions of the diet do not include grains (like wheat, rye, and barley) or legumes (like beans). Only a few versions include dairy, if it is from grass-fed cows or raw (“unpasteurized”).
Supporters of the Paleo Diet also think that you should avoid all processed fats, such as vegetable oil, soybean oil and margarine. This is because they are not whole foods and have been shown to contribute to heart disease. However, they do approve of several types of oil, including flaxseed, walnut, macadamia, avocado, olive and coconut. Most sugar is also limited.
The Paleo Diet can be adjusted for your specific tastes, weight loss goals and blood glucose needs. The Paleo Diet is very strict about the types of foods you can consume, however those foods that abide by the Paleo premise can be consumed in unlimited quantities. On this diet, you and your healthcare team can choose how much carbohydrate, protein and fat is best for you.
Why Switch to The Paleo Diet?
The Paleo Diet is high in vitamins and minerals, unprocessed, and low in foods that trigger allergic reactions. People with diabetes may benefit from improved blood glucose control, weight loss, and higher energy on this eating plan.
Here are other possible benefits of the Paleo Diet:
- Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
- Better blood glucose control
- Better brain health
- Stronger muscles
- Better digestion
- Increased absorption of vitamins and minerals
- Increased immunity
- Relief from allergies and skin diseases
- Improved energy levels
- Increased insulin sensitivity
- Reduced depression and anxiety
- Improved sleep
If you have poor digestion, allergies, high blood glucose, or any other symptoms of nutritional deficiency, think about speaking with your healthcare team about the Paleo Diet. With good planning, this healthy eating plan can be very nutrient-dense, low in allergens, and made specifically to suit your individual needs and tastes. It is a good idea to read more about this subject if you do decide to talk about it with your doctor or healthcare team. Have a look at some of the many books and articles written about the Paleo Diet, the Primal Diet, and “ancestral diets.” These are all slightly different eating plans based on the same basic idea: whole, unprocessed, and low-allergen foods are best.
Jonathan Jarashow, Publisher
Diabetes Digest Family of Magazines
Learn how adopting The Paleo Diet can help diabetics: