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  • People with type 2 diabetes should ditch the paleo diet

    Author: AAP

People with type 2 diabetes are being warned to be wary of the social media hype about the benefits of the paleo diet.

People with type 2 diabetes should ditch the paleo diet until there's substantial clinical evidence supporting its health benefits, warns the head of the Australian Diabetes Society.

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It may be popular among celebrities but there's little evidence to support the dozens of claims it can help manage the disease, says Associate Professor Sof Andrikopoulos.

"There have been only two trials worldwide of people with type 2 diabetes on what looks to be a paleo diet," he said.

"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."

In a paper for the latest issue of the Australian Medical Journal, Andrikopoulos recommends people with type 2 diabetes seek advice from their GPs, registered dietitians and diabetes organisations.

The controversial paleo diet, followed by many high profile people including celebrity chef Pete Evans, advocates a high consumption of meat and cuts out whole grains and dairy, which is problematic
because it may forgo important sources of fibre and calcium, says Andrikopoulos.

"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," he said.

Accredited dietitian and Dietitians Association of Australia spokesperson Alan Barclay supports the warning.

He says any credible dietary advice should be evidence based.

"Diabetes is a lifelong condition and you need to be able to adhere to the diet, it needs to be part of your cultural and family life otherwise it will have adverse social and economic effects."

Apart from being very costly, the paleo diet is not sustainable for most, Mr Barclay said.

"You have to find out what they're eating and you have to work with that individual to improve the dietary pattern that they're already consuming, otherwise they're not going to stay with it very long."

"And then the person goes back to their old eating habits that got them the diabetes in the first place."

For most people the paleo diet is not a long-term and realistic solution, he added.

"I imagine for most people the paleo diet wouldn't be particularly palatable or enjoyable ... it's just another burden that people don't need."

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


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