Type 2 diabetics warned against Paleo Diet hype

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 8th August 2016

A University of Melbourne professor is warning Type 2 Diabetics to be wary of any hype surrounding the Paleo Diet.

Writing in Volume 5, Issue 3 of the Medical Journal of Australia, Associate Professor Andrikopoulos said despite dozens of websites urging diabetes sufferers to go paleo, there have been no trials lasting beyond 12 weeks on type 2 diabetes sufferers.

“There have been only two trials worldwide of people with type 2 diabetes on what looks to be a paleo diet,” said Associate Professor Andrikopoulos, a researcher at the University of Melbourne Department of Medicine, based at the Austin Hospital.

“Both studies had fewer than 20 participants, one had no control diet, and at 12 weeks or less, neither study lasted long enough for us to draw solid conclusions about the impact on weight or glycemic control,” he said.

The paleo diet involves eating food that would have only been available to Palaeolithic humans centuries ago. It typically includes fruit, vegetables, nuts and meats whilst it excludes dairy, grains, sugar and alcohol. The diet has become popular in the past few years with celebrities such as Chef Pete Evans advocating it in Australia.

Type 2 Diabetics need to seek advice from health professionals before changing diet

Associate Professor Andrikopoulos, who is also President of the Australian Diabetes Society, recommended people with type 2 diabetes seek advice from their GPs, registered dietitians and diabetes organisations.

“Most paleo diets insist on avoiding refined sugar and processed food, which is consistent with dietary guidelines worldwide,” he said.

“But when you start cutting out whole grains and dairy, which are absent from many forms of the paleo diet, you may forgo important sources of fibre and calcium. And high-fat, zero-carb diets promoted by some celebrities make this worse, as they can lead to rapid weight gain, as well as increase your risk of heart disease,” Professor Andrikopoulos stated.

Professor advocates Mediterranean diet for Type 2 Diabetics 

Associate Professor Andrikopoulos says people with diabetes benefited most from regular exercise and the Mediterranean diet which consists of olive oil, fats from fish, legumes and low in refined sugar.

“While it’s tempting to emulate celebrities who look great and can spend a lot of time at the gym, if you’re already overweight or you live a sedentary life, it may be quite risky to adopt a high-fat diet… and if you have diabetes, it’s downright dangerous,” Associate Professor Andrikopoulos said.

“The internet is full of testimonials from people saying a particular diet worked for them because they cut calories and lost weight, but people with diabetes in particular need to approach those claims with caution and seek advice from their health care professional,” he added.