By Lisa Janse
Diabetics should eat the same diet as their primitive ancestors. This is the conclusion of a recent study into diabetes nutrition at Lund University in Sweden. Research by the university’s Department of Medicine has concluded that type 2 diabetics could benefit from basing their diet around fruit, vegetables, nuts, lean meat and fish; avoiding the western staples of dairy products and refined fats.
This unique study into diabetes nutrition began with the observation that the populations of places like Papua New Guinea and the Trobriand Islands have a very low incidence of diabetes, as well as heart disease. This is thought to be because these communities have little access to modern western foods, and their diets are similar to that of primitive man.
Comparison of western and primitive diabetic meals
This observation was followed by a controlled study into diabetes nutrition, which compared two groups following a tailored diabetic meal plan. One group maintained a western diet, eating what are currently considered healthy foods for diabetics, including low fat dairy products, whole grain foods and refined fats such as olive oil.
The second group followed a ‘Palaeolithic’ diet of lean meat and fish, root vegetables, fruit and nuts, and avoided the grains and low fat dairy products usually considered to be good foods for diabetics, as well as avoiding salt and fat.
Primitive diet is the best food for diabetics
Results of the trial showed that the group eating the Palaeolithic diet experienced a much lower increase in blood sugar in response to carbohydrates, than the group that were following a western diet. This is the first study into the suitability of primitive foods for diabetics, and does not at this stage replace the following general advice on diabetes nutrition.
Established advice on diabetes nutrition still stands
Long standing research into diabetes nutrition still recommends that diabetics take the following steps:
- Build your diabetic meals around starchy foods such as rice, pasta and potatoes which have a low glycemic index and release glucose slowly into the bloodstream.
- Look at your cooking methods, and try to replace frying and roasting with grilling, steaming, poaching or baking.
- Fruit and vegetables are great foods for diabetics, but do not use fruit juice to quench your thirst as this can increase your blood sugar very rapidly. If you are thirsty try drinking water instead.
- Sugar doesn’t need to be completely avoided, but you should be aware of the amount of sugar in foods and the effect on your blood sugar. Replace some sugar with artificial sweeteners, and if you have a sweet tooth look out for special diabetic chocolates and confectionery.
- All fats and oils are high in calories, although monounsaturated fats such as olive oil and rapeseed oil are healthier than saturated fats such as butter. Your diabetic meal plan should limit fatty foods such as processed meats, pastry, crisps, chocolate, cakes and full fat dairy products.
Having diabetes should not mean you have to cut out all your favorite foods. As long as you eat healthily and only indulge in moderation, you can maintain a safe blood sugar level and lead a normal happy life. Ask your doctor for advice on your diabetic meal plan, but if your options look a little uninspiring try a diabetic cooking magazine for more interesting dishes.
About Lisa Janse
Lisa Janse is a professional writer specialising in health topics. You can read more practical and interesting facts about Sugar Diabetes, Diabetes Nutrition and Diabetes Medicine at http://www.sugardiabetes.net
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