An Australian journal piece asserts that there is no strong evidence to suggest eating a paleolithic (paleo) diet benefits type 2 diabetes.
A paleo diet involves avoiding processed food and refined sugars, but also eliminating important sources of fibre and calcium, such as whole grains and dairy.
The diet is low-carb, and this diet has been shown to improve blood sugar control and enable weight loss in people with type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, the focus on eating fresh foods such as wild fish, vegetables and nuts is recommended by dietary guidelines.
Associate Professor Sof Andrikopoulos, a researcher at the University of Melbourne Department of Medicine at Austin Hospital, wanted to investigate just how efficacious the paleo diet could be in type 2 diabetes.
Andrikopoulos found 23 articles about the diet and its role in type 2 diabetes; only three clinical trials were available.
He reported that when compared to a ‘diabetes’ diet (the NHS recommends people with diabetes eat a high-carb, low-fat diet), none of the studies suggested a paleo diet had significant benefits for people with diabetes.
“The studies had fewer than 20 participants, one had no control diet and they were all 12 weeks or less so we can’t draw any conclusions about the impact on weight gain or glycemic control,” he said.
“These small and short-term studies tend to indicate some benefit but do not convincingly show that a paleolithic diet is effective for weight loss and glycemic control in type 2 diabetes.”
Andrikopoulos stopped short of saying that the paleo diet does not have benefits for people with type 2 diabetes, but concluded that further research is needed to establish evidence of its efficacy.
“While it makes sense that the paleolithic diet promotes avoidance of refined and extra sugars and processed energy dense food, clearly more randomised controlled studies with more patients and for a longer period of time are required to determine whether it has any beneficial effect over other dietary advice,” he said.
Andrikopoulos added that people with type 2 diabetes should consult their doctor before adopting the paleo diet.
The review appears in the Medical Journal of Australia.