HealthWatch: Caveman Diet Helps Diabetics In UCSF Study

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco say one way to improve your health may be takings some tips from our Stone Age ancestors.

In recent weeks we’ve reported on the the Paleo Diet, or Ancestral Health movement. CBS 5 Health Watch reporter Dr. Kim Mulvihill followed the diet for more than six months and it lowered her blood pressure, cholesterol and weight. Now UCSF researchers have said it can also dramatically help patients with type two diabetes.

Gloria Romero used to take 9 different medications to control her blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, acid reflux, even depression. She started eating like a caveman, and now she’s down to just two drugs.

Making the change meant a diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean meats and healthy fats. She ate no dairy, no grains and no processed foods.

“It was fantastic. It was just amazing,” said Romero, who was part of the UCSF study involving type two diabetics.

Dr. Lynda Frassetto headed up the research, and said diabetes can lead to dire consequences including blindness, amputation, sexual dysfunction, as well as kidney problems and an earlier death.

Romero knows all too well about the toll. She works at UCSF in the kidney transplant department.

“I saw many diabetic patients on dialysis and I thought to myself, ‘this is going to be me one day.’ It scared me,” said Romero

Diabetics were randomly assigned to follow one of two diets during the study.

One group was given a Mediterranean diet, which is recommended by the American Diabetes Association. The other group ate the Paleo diet. The big difference between the two is that you eat more whole grains and dairy and less red meat on the Mediterranean diet.

“The people who were in the Paleo arm, instead of eating grains and dairy, they ate a lot more fruits and vegetables and a little bit more protein,” said Dr. Frassetto.

All the meals were prepared at the clinical research study kitchen at UCSF and eaten there or taken home. In just 2 weeks, a huge difference emerged between the groups.

Those who ate like cavemen saw significant drops in blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides – as well as blood sugar, while those on the Mediterranean diet saw little or no improvement.

“Their blood sugars got way better, dropped about 25 milligrams per deciliter on average,” Dr. Frassetto explained. “This is a diet that humans are more physiologically adapted to because this is a diet more similar to the one that we evolved on.”

As for Romero, she takes less medication for her diabetes. She also has more energy, dropped 4 dress sizes and kicked her depression.

“It’s eating what you should be eating, you know, your vegetables, your fruits, your lean meats, it’s just eating right overall,” said Romero. The hardest part of the diet is sticking to it. You have to do a lot of shopping, preparation and cooking.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS SF. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • Nancy Rodriguez

    There is scientific proof of THE TRUTH ABOUT SATERATED FAST. See website I was having all knds of medical problems, high blood pressure, inflamation of the pancreas, memory loss, and a lot of aches and pain. After reading this report, I started eating more meat, use lard that I purchased from the Mexican grocery store and cut out processed food and limited intake of refinded sugar and replaced it with AlterEco unprocessed sugar and the list goes on. I personally did a lot of checking on processed foods that I have been ingesting since,don’t know when, and found that the food industry is substituing chemcals for foods such as sugar, cooking oils, food coloring a the lists goes on. Key is to read ingredients and do research on various chemicals used. You have to know exactly what you are ingesting. You would be supprised if you knew how much chemicals are put into our foods by these big Corp. for the sake of the $. I consume all natural foods, unprocessed, and fresh vegies. If this comment helps even only one person, I would be happy.

  • Jesse Melton

    I Read and hear a lot about the Paleo diet but would like to know where I can get any books or recipes. I am 93 years old with more health problems than I like to mention. I would very much appreciate any information of where I can get more information about it. I have type 2 diabetes with an A/1C of 5.5 and my blood sugar runs constantly between 90 and 100 which for an old goat is not to shabby,
    to say eat more of this and that does not help me because I am not a very good cook and need to get on this diet. If you can tell me where I can get a book about the diet or recipes I would appreciate hearing about them. Thank you very much for listening to an old man that has to move around with a walker and does not get out very often.

    • cyndy shoemaker

      Everyday Paleo by Sarah Frangosos…outstanding

    • J. Martinez

      Jesse, hats off to you. We should all be an “old goat” like you! Here you are at 93, computer literate, concerned for your health, anxious to read, and ready for the years ahead. Good for you!

      You should be able to find books on the diet at any bookstore. Essentially, it boils down to fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. Don’t let your cooking skills get in the way. If you can handle a computer, you can handle a stove. Besides, you’re cooking for yourself.

      Fruits are easy, just buy, wash, and eat. However, they tend to be high in sugar so you should be careful eating them and monitor your sugar levels.

      Vegetables are easy too. Either buy them fresh or frozen. Buy one of those collapsible inserts to steam them in any pot then season to taste. I like a little lemon pepper. Lean meats are any meat with little fat. Chicken breasts are a good example. Just put one in a foil lined bake pan (for easy clean up), season, cover with foil, and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. You may want to remove the foil cover and bake for ten minutes more to brown. Boom! Dinner.

      As for your diabetes, there is evidence diet can have a profound effect on it, to the point of eliminating it altogether. See this article: The diet mentioned in the article is severe, to be sure, but it makes sense when you consider that diabetics who have gastric bypass surgery to reduce weight are COMPLETELY cured of type 2 diabetes within days of surgery.

      Finally, Dr. Kim Mulvihill’s article has links to menu and food items:

  • susannah mannell

    this UI is not friendly.. it erases everything written when the email and name are not filled in.. looks like an or situation .. there is a big OR.. so I put my name in the Name box and hit submit comment and it gave me an error saying the box was not filled out.. in addition, it erased a very thoughtful and time consuming response to Jesse.. I will try this again and put my name AND my email in.. but will have to come back to reproduce the things I wanted to say to you Jesse… have to run out now..

    here are some books to look at

    argh I just wrote a very long response to Jesse and the error page on the submission deleted it from the box.. bad UI.. please fix this. Jesse I will write you a comment later but here are some books

    I commend you for caring about your health

  • susannah mannell

    okay the OR is for facebook connect and the line is inclusive of both name and email but really the UI should not erase what you have written on the error .. this needs some development

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