The following text is the original work of Dr. Staffan Lindeberg – a key figure in the revival of the Paleo diet in the late 20th Century. His most notable work is the Kitava Study, published in the early nineties.
Check out our summary page for more about Dr. Lindeberg and his work.
The original human diet is good for people with diabetes
Lindeberg, S, Jönsson, T, Granfeldt, Y, Borgstrand, E, Soffman, J, Sjöström, K, and Ahrén, B. A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease. Diabetologia, 2007; In press: http://www.springerlink.com/content/h7628r66r0552222
In a clinical study, we compared 14 patients who were advised to consume an ‘ancient’ (Paleolithic, ‘Old stone Age†) diet for three months with 15 patients who were recommended to follow a Mediterranean-like prudent diet with whole-grain cereals, low-fat dairy products, fruit, vegetables and refined fats generally considered healthy. All patients had increased blood sugar after carbohydrate intake (glucose intolerance), and most of them had overt diabetes type 2. In addition, all had been diagnosed with coronary heart disease. Patients in the Paleolithic group were recommended to eat lean meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, root vegetables and nuts, and to avoid grains, dairy foods and salt.
The main result was that the blood sugar rise in response to carbohydrate intake was markedly lower after 12 weeks in the Paleolithic group (–26%), while it barely changed in the Mediterranean group (–7%). At the end of the study, all patients in the Paleolithic group had normal blood glucose.
The improved glucose tolerance in the Paleolithic group was unrelated to changes in weight or waist circumference, although waist decreased slightly more in that group. Hence, the research group concludes that something more than caloric intake and weight loss was responsible for the improved handling of dietary carbohydrate. The main difference between the groups was a much lower intake of grains and dairy products and a higher fruit intake in the Paleolithic group. Bioactive substances in grains (e.g. wheat lectin) and dairy products (e.g. casein) have been shown to interfere with the metabolism of carbohydrates and fat in various studies.
If you want to prevent or treat diabetes type 2, it may be more efficient to avoid some of our modern foods than to count calories or carbohydrate >>.
This is the first controlled study of a Paleolithic diet in humans.
Comment in Science: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/vol317/issue5835/r-samples.dtl#317/5835/175c