Thoughts on the Paleo Diet


Thoughts on the Paleo Diet

I’ve been pondering the paleo diet lately. Not necessarily considering it, although I probably eat a diet people would consider a paleo-like diet. I’ve been thinking about it because it’s getting more popular. The diet plan presumes that humans evolved to best handle foods that were available during the paleolithic era which lasted 2.5 million years according to wikipedia. Supposedly, we’ve been incorporating grains into our diets for only 10,000 or so years. Therefore it is assumed that our bodies are not equipped to thrive on grains because we haven’t had enough time to evolve to assimilate them. If we’re going with this evolutionary train of thought…I wonder if the Okinawan’s of Japan who are some of the longest living and healthy people on the planet do so well on brown rice and vegetables because people have existed in Asia longer than people have existed in say, South America, and therefore had more time to get used to assimilating brown rice. Maybe we evolve faster than we think? Blacks and Hispanics eating the standard American diet suffer certain health consequences sooner and more frequently than Caucasians. Is this because of the predominance of wheat in the diet? And the fact that Caucasians mostly hail from Europe, where wheat has been eaten for longer than it has in Africa, South America, Central America and Mexico? Do you see where I’m going with this?

If I follow the idealogoy of the paleo diet, I get lost you see? Because it’s based on what we are not sure of yet-evolutionary stuff. We don’t know how long it takes us to evolve to foods but it seems like it’s been happening in the last 10,000 years because Caucasian Americans don’t have the same risk for diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease as African American and Hispanic Americans do.  Or maybe not?  I don’t know enough.

I appreciate how the diet emphasizes whole foods and omits processed ones. The thing is, if a paleo dieter can’t afford or isn’t able to find organic animal products, then they are consuming what our ancestors certainly didn’t consume- chemicals and hormones and toxins galore. That’s where I think the greatest downfall of the diet is. The modern implications of it. Back then meat, poultry, eggs were pure. Now it’s all genetically modified to the point of almost needing to be called something else because it’s been changed at the most basic level.

That said, I do try to eat things I don’t pull out of a box, don’t have to cook, or need to pick up the phone to order.  And that’s often at the heart of paleo, so I do very much appreciate that.  Oh, and the fantastic blood sugars I get from eating paleo-like…priceless.

Anyway I was just thinking aloud :)

Any of you have experience with this diet?  What do you think?

7 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Paleo Diet

  1. Ariana

    Hi Sysy. I have been doing the paleo thing for 1.5 years, and love it. I was already eating reasonably low-carb, but having my whole family omit grains and legumes and limiting dairy was great for all of us. We all feel very good, my daughter almost never gets sick (actually, neither do my husband and I, but she used to get sick more often.) I lost 20 pounds pretty effortlessly, and both my husband and I noticed big changes in our moods– we were both really surprised to note that we just sincerely felt much happier after we’d been on it for a while. We do eat mostly organic, free range, grass-fed, etc. animal products, but I think that just not having grains in our diet would still produce these changes. When I eat some bread, I feel old aches and pains come back, even though I have tested negative for an actual gluten allergy. Just thought I’d share my experience. I don’t think I’ll ever go back.

  2. Laura

    Hm…that is so interesting. I looked up my blood type and for me, whole wheat is a problem. I stopped eating so much of it, I make my own bread so it was very hard, and I felt a huge difference. I limit to one piece a day and am thinking of trying to avoid it all together for awhile and cut back on other grains. Good for the bs and will hopefully help me lose a few pounds.
    Michael Pollan calls processed food, “edible food-like substances.” I love that.

  3. Steve in Indiana

    Yes, I have tried. Started in mid-November after terrible blood results. A1C was at 8% with a estimated average glucose of 183. Type II diabetic.

    Now, I want to preface all of this with going 85-95% raw food with tons of veggies and juicing. I had bad blood results two years prior and believed the whole raw thing was the answer. Problem was I didn’t track my glucose and ended up with the above.

    MY doctor wanted me on oral meds (mediphorm) immediately, as to which I refused. He also wanted me on cholesteral meds. which I also said no. I told him I wanted 90 days to try diet and exercise. It was at this point I stumbled on the Paleo diet. Read all I could, and finally bought the book.

    I have to admit I cheated a lot. But, I did stick reasonably close the first couple of months. But, that also entailed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Super bowl cheating as well as two weeks vacation with lots of cheating.

    I did however start weight lifting the first two months and then cardio for about three weeks before my blood work. Now the results, and you tell me if it works.

    November A1C 8% Ave. Glucose 183 February A1c7.3% Ave Glucose 163
    Cholesteral 249 Cholesteral 207
    LDL 149 LDL 124
    HDL 59 HDL 60
    Cholesteral/HDL ratio 4.22 Cholesteral/HDL ratio 3.45
    Triglycerides 204 Triglycerides 113

    As of today 2/15/12 my 7 day average glucose which includes fasting and two post meal (2 hours after) checks are 7-day 120, 14-day 125, and 30-day 132. This is outstanding. I do need my fasting to go down some, but many of my post meal checks fall under 100, and rarely do my fasting numbers exceed 115. They have dropped rapidly this past 3 weeks.

    Taco bell and chips will kill the diet. I know! I am convinced this works, and expect for a total turn around by my next three month check.

    By the way, the intern that came in before my doctor looked at my results and told me how good they were. The medications must be working. I said, “I’m not on meds. this is all diet and exercise. He lost his enthusiasm and said, well the doctor will probably want to start you on an oral to get this down. Hmm, was happy how well the drugs were working until he found out my drug of choice was food and exercise. My doctor however, was pretty pleased, and said you must have worked hard. I said, wait til the next check and see where my results will be.

    Oh well, chalk one up for Paleo and down to the big drug companies.

    I hope this inspires othe type II’s to try it. I’ll post again in the middle of May.


    You can contact me at

  4. Steve Parker,M.D.

    Hi, guys.

    Several of my patients asked me about the paleo diet, so six months ago I started investigating it as an approach to diabetes.
    Trust me, there’s not much scientific data to back it up yet. But there is indeed some, from researchers at Lund University in Sweden and University of California – San Francisco. Those studies involved type 2s. I’ve seen no formal scientific studies with type 1s.

    You can find lots of anecdotal reports of PWDs improving with the paleo diet, like those posted above. Right now, the patients are leading the researchers!

    The standard American diet derives 40% of total calories from added sugars and grains (nearly all highly processed). We didn’t have those available during some 2,000,000 years of evolution. (If you believe in human evolution!) That’s quite a glycemic load of carbohydrate we’re asking our primal pancreas to handle. It sorta makes sense that many of us can’t handle those concentrated carbs, and that may be why we’re seeing an explosion in type 2 diabetes.

    Syse, I think you’re on to something in terms of ethnic differences in ability to digest certain foods. A good example is milk: very few adult Asians, blacks, and American Indians can digest it, whereas lots of caucasians can.

    It’s impossible to truly imitate an ancestral diet unless you get off the grid and live in the wild. Good luck with that! Modern fruits, vegetables, meats, and eggs are different than what our ancient ancestors had available, mainly due to selective breeding. On the other hand, wild fish today are probably similar to the old days, except for being more polluted!


  5. Kelly O'Connell

    Hi Sysy,

    I am type 1 as well and have had DM since I was 7yo. I adapted paleo-like eating 3 years ago and will never turn back. I am also a dietitian and help individuals with hormone imbalance, DM, RA, weight loss, etc with paleo as a basis. Indeed, it is not possible to eat the same way human beings did 10K years ago, but omitting legumes, grains, dairy, and vegetable oils proves to help many people. With diet, everyone is unique and I think paleo is going to become a more known practice since it helps so many people. One thing to note, is even when I ate equal carbs of non-paleo foods, my insulin (pump) needs are ~35% less than what they used to be and my blood sugar fluctuations are MUCH less.

    If you have any questions about the diet, please don’t hesitate to ask. Keep up the great work on this site; the information and insight is awesome.


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  7. Andrea

    I got my A1c down to the lowest its ever been – 6.2% – when I was strict about doing a Paleo diet. It is the diet my acupuncturist recommends for his diabetic patients and he sees them all get healthier when they stick with it.

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