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The Paleo Diet and Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is often called a lifestyle disease. Over 100 million Americans live with diabetes or prediabetes, and health experts consistently recommend a lifestyle change as a key component to managing type 2 diabetes. This lifestyle change can come in many forms, and one of them is the Paleo diet.

What it is

The Paleolithic diet, also known as the Caveman diet, centers on eating foods our ancestors would have eaten when they were hunters and gatherers. Back then, they didn’t have processed foods and ate diets that consisted of meat, fish, nuts, and seasonal fruits and vegetables. In modern times, this means eating a low- or no-carb diet as carbohydrates are one of the main culprits in developing type 2 diabetes.

infographic what to eat and not to eat on paleo

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How it affects diabetes

The Paleo diet may help those with diabetes because it encourages you to eat nutrient-rich foods that are low on the glycemic index. It has the ability to help those with type 2 diabetes lower their BMI and A1c levels. Eating real foods like meats, fruits, and vegetables can also help you maintain steady blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity. Although the diet is recommended for those with type 2 diabetes, it is unclear if the diet helps those with type 1 diabetes.

What to eat (and not eat)

The Paleo diet emphasizes eating real, nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, nuts, and fruits. The most important thing to avoid while on the Paleo diet is processed foods. This includes grains like bread, tortillas, and croissants. You should also avoid anything with added sugar.

Because you will be cutting down on carbohydrates and dairy, it’s important to get other sources of fiber and calcium. Foods like lentils, Brussels sprouts, and black beans are high in fiber, and kale, spinach, and broccoli are all rich in calcium. Meat, fish, eggs, and coconut or olive oil are considered Paleo-friendly.

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More than a diet

But Paleo is more than just a diet. Paleo also encourages other healthy choices like exercising, getting enough sleep, healing your gut, and managing your stress levels. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, try taking breaks from sitting and getting some light exercise like walking or cycling. The more breaks you take from sitting, the lower your BMI, waist circumference, and triglycerides will be, and your blood sugar will be more stable too.

As always, consult with your doctor before beginning any diet or health regimen.