Click for his testimonial from 2012. Rich is a type 1 diabetic (he uses “diabetic” rather than “person with diabetes”). Rich was influenced by Tom Naughton, Robb Wolf, and Mark Sisson. He dropped his hemoglobin A1c by 2.5 over his first six months of paleo eating. This snippet explains some of his lifestyle changes:
The only thing I changed back in March, was starting to live paleo. I’ve always worked out regularly, so I’m not really accounting my exercise in this improvement. I’m probably about 70% paleo overall, but at home I’m 100% paleo. My home no longer has any processed foods that come in a box, can, or sack. I buy whole foods (fruits and lots of veggies), a little frozen veggies for convenience and storage time, lots of meat, no dairy, and lots of olive and coconut oil. I cook a lot now, which means I do a lot more dishes than I want to, but it’s been worth it.
Read the rest.
African Savanna: The Cradle of Humanity?
Marlene Zuk is an evolutionary biologist at the University of Minnesota. She has an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education excerpted from her upcoming book Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet, and How We Live. Here’s a snippet:
…it’s reasonable to conclude that we aren’t suited to our modern lives, and that our health, our family lives, and perhaps our sanity would all be improved if we could live the way early humans did. Our bodies and minds evolved under a particular set of circumstances, the reasoning goes, and in changing those circumstances without allowing our bodies time to evolve in response, we have wreaked the havoc that is modern life.
In short, we have what the anthropologist Leslie Aiello, president of the renowned Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, called “paleofantasies.” She was referring to stories about human evolution based on limited fossil evidence, but the term applies just as well to the idea that our modern lives are out of touch with the way human beings evolved and that we need to redress the imbalance. Newspaper articles, morning TV, dozens of books, and self-help advocates promoting slow-food or no-cook diets, barefoot running, sleeping with our infants, and other measures large and small claim that it would be more natural, and healthier, to live more like our ancestors.
To think of ourselves as misfits in our own time and of our own making flatly contradicts what we now understand about the way evolution works—namely, that rate matters. That evolution can be fast, slow, or in-between, and understanding what makes the difference is far more enlightening, and exciting, than holding our flabby modern selves up against a vision—accurate or not—of our well-muscled and harmoniously adapted ancestors.
The paleofantasy is a fantasy in part because it supposes that we humans, or at least our protohuman forebears, were at some point perfectly adapted to our environments.
Ms. Zuk enjoys setting up straw men, then knocking them down. Decide for yourself. She’s a good writer. And men, there’s that picture of Raquel Welch again.
In other words, is the paleo diet good for diabetics?
A few others have weighed in on this question in an organized fashion. Steve Cooksey at Diabetes-Warrior.net immediately comes to mind. Gary Rea, too (see Links at right). Many others (hundreds or thousands?) with diabetes have been conducting paleo lifestyle experiments on themselves.
N=1 experiments (self-experimentation) are particularly helpful in the absence of randomized controlled clinical trials, the usual gold-standard study in medical science. But N=1 experiments aren’t necessarily safe, especially for a diabetic taking drugs that can cause hypoglycemia.
I’ve already figured out there’s not much published scientific research on the application of paleo lifestyle choices as therapy for diabetes. I plan to review the published literature over the coming year. Coming up with some preliminary answers will also require some inductive reasoning and empiricism.
In thinking about the paleo lifestyle and diabetes, here are some of the issues and questions I need to address over the coming year:
- sun exposure
- social interaction
- diabetes prevention
- effect on diabetic complications such as kidney disease, eye disease, nerve impairment, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart disease, and stroke
- spirituality (?)
- individual genetic variation
- type 1 versus type 2 diabetes
- drugs for diabetes
- what is the paleo diet
- glycemic index
- effect on blood sugar
- diabetes prevention
- effect of individual paleo diet components on diabetes
- effect on diabetic complications such as kidney disease, eye disease, nerve impairment, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart disease, stroke
- type 1 versus type 2 diabetes
Imagine a diabetic asking his physician or dietitian, “What about the paleo diet? Can I try it?” The typical professional is going to answer, “I don’t know.” How many will have the time or interest to look into it? Not many.
Am I missing anything? Do you know anybody else doing this in a public forum?
Steve Parker, M.D.
PS: A few diabetics don’t like to be called “diabetic.” I mean no offense by the term. It’s just typical medical short-hand for “people with diabetes” or “person with diabetes.” Some blogs even use the acronym PWD. Similarly, an asthmatic is a person with asthma, and an alcoholic is a person with alcholism.