Overview: “Eating a Paleo diet essentially means favoring real, whole food in its purest form, ” says Kelly Schmidt, RD, LDN, who has type 1 diabetes and owns Paleo Infused Nutrition in Chicago. “Food is more than fuel. Food components provide information to our genes that turns them on or off to either promote wellness or disease.” Eating nutritious, whole foods that contain minimal antinutrients (which interfere with nutrient absorption) helps nudge our genes to support optimal health, she explains. Paleo-style diets typically exclude grains, dairy products, legumes, potatoes, refined sugars and oils, and processed foods.
Diabetes focus: A preliminary, three-month study compared the Paleo diet with the standard diabetes diet (evenly distributed meals that were moderate in carbohydrate and fat) in people with type 2 diabetes and found the Paleo diet was more satiating (filling) per calorie. It also produced significantly more weight loss, plus better blood sugar control, improved cholesterol, and lower diastolic blood pressure. “In working with clients with type 2 diabetes who follow a Paleo diet, I’ve seen them significantly improve their weight, A1C, neuropathy, kidney labs, and day-to-day blood sugars, ” Schmidt says. Consult your health care team for any needed adjustments in your care plan and to verify nutritional adequacy.
What you eat: Schmidt suggests gradually cutting foods that aren’t allowed while focusing on eating whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthful oils (such as olive and coconut), and high-quality proteins including lean grass-fed meats, poultry, eggs, and low-mercury fish rich in omega-3 fats, such as salmon.