Diabetes is a metabolic disorder where the body is unable to regulate the hormone insulin, to utilize glucose. The pancreas, either secrete low insulin or no insulin which decreases the efficiency of glucose update. Consuming sugary foods, simple carbohydrates, refined, processed foods, excessive fat intake, sedentary lifestyle, obesity or being overweight etc are some of the important causative factors for developing diabetes. Diabetes management involves maintaining the blood glucose levels and the treatment is primarily based on dietary and lifestyle changes.
Benefits of Paleo diet for Diabetics
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for our body. The type and amount of carbohydrate consumed has a major impact on the blood glucose levels. The general recommended allowance for carbohydrate for a diabetic is about 40–65 grams per day.
Carbohydrates with low glycemic load provide a steady raise in the blood glucose levels and do not demand heavy need for insulin. Consuming a paleo diet provides more complex carbohydrates that have low glycemic load. It also strictly eliminates processed, refined foods, simple sugars, sugary drinks and beverages.
2) Dietary fiber
The amount of dietary fiber recommended is about 25- 35 grams per day. Dietary fiber contributes to the bulk or roughage to the diet and are classified as soluble and insoluble fibers.
Fruits and vegetables are the sources of soluble fibers; whole grains, seeds and nuts are the sources of insoluble fibers. Consuming soluble fiber helps to reduce the cholesterol and blood glucose levels, insoluble fibers promote healthy bowel movements.
Paleo diet provides more soluble fiber which are effective in reducing the blood glucose, while insoluble fibers are obtained from nuts and seeds but not from whole grains.
Vitamins and minerals that are required in small quantities by the body are called as micronutrients. They play a vital role in many biochemical reactions and other bodily functions and are essential for maintaining health and sustained energy levels. Research has identified specific micronutrients for effective diabetes management such as chromium, vanadium, niacin, magnesium, vitamin E, and all B complex vitamins.
Paleo diet with its rich nutritional profile provides most of the essential nutrients including antioxidants for efficient management of diabetes.
5) Essential fats
Diabetic patients have a high triglyceride, low good cholesterol levels. Consuming omega- 3 rich foods help to increase the good cholesterol (HDL) levels, reduce inflammatory reactions, and also lower triglyceride levels in the body.
Studies reveal that the likelihood of procuring a heart problem is about 6 times for a diabetic. Hence consuming foods that are rich in omega-3 fats helps to reduce the risk of heart diseases.
Paleo diet encourages plenty of omega – 3 fats in the diet in the form of salmon, mackerel, nuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds etc.
Lifestyle recommendation for Diabetic:
Active lifestyle: Sedentary living is not only implicated in diabetes, but also leads to other diseases. Adopting an active lifestyle that involves regular physical activity is proven to stabilize blood glucose levels and improved management of diabetes. Staying active is an effective means of weight management which is one of the key factors in prevention, management and treatment of diabetes.
Refrain from smoking: Diabetic patients are at higher risk of developing heart problems. Research has showed that habits such as smoking double the risk of heart problems among diabetics and also leads to micronutrient deficiencies in the body.
Limit alcohol: No alcohol or limited intake of alcohol is recommended for diabetic patients. Excessive alcohol intake not only leads to micronutrient deficiencies, but also causes changes in blood pressure.
In a nut shell paleo diet encourages consumption of plenty of fruits and vegetables that provide ample fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Since it places severe restriction on processed, refined foods, alcohol and smoking. In addition to this paleo strongly encourages mild to moderate physical activity everyday thus qualifying it as the best suited diet for diabetics.
Many research studies have advocated that Palaeolithic diet is suitable for Diabetic individuals to keep their blood sugar in control and effectively manage the problem. In a study conducted on Diabetic patients, it was found that Paleo diet had better glycemic index and reduced the risk of heart disease conditions when compared to a regular Diabetic diet. It was found that the paleo diet had lower glycemic index (GI 50%) when compared to a Diabetic diet (GI 55%).
Paleo encourages healthy way of eating and active lifestyle which are the two primary goals of diabetic treatment and management. Humans are physiologically more adapted to paleo way of living and eating and thus it is quite natural that human body responds well on adopting paleolithic diet. Paleo diet, no doubt can help manage diabetes and improve the quality of life for patients.