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Can You Improve Blood Sugar Control by Cutting Carbs?

Research shows that cutting carbs can reduce fluctuations in blood glucose and lower the amount of medication people with diabetes need.
Can You Improve Blood Sugar Control by Cutting Carbs?
Diabetes testing

A century ago, before insulin was discovered in 1921, the way people with diabetes controlled their blood sugar was by not eating carbohydrate-rich foods. Could cutting carbs help improve your blood sugar control today?

Cutting Carbs Reduced Insulin Requirements:

Q. I’ve had type 1 diabetes for 36 years, and for the past five years I have cut back on carbs and processed foods. I had struggled for years trying to keep my blood sugar from going to extremes despite being on an insulin pump or multiple daily injections.

When I went low-carb (25 grams or less per meal), it made such a difference in my control. I had spoken with my former endocrinologist about going low-carb, but she discouraged it. When I decided to try this anyway, she was absolutely furious with me and told me I was going to get sick. That was the last time I saw her.

My HbA1c measurements are lower and my blood sugars are more controlled than they have ever been. I’ve not been sick, and I use less insulin. Cutting carbs may not work for everyone, but it has certainly been good for me.

Research on Cutting Carbs in Type 1 Diabetes:

A. A survey published in the journal Pediatrics (May, 2018) found that children and adults with type 1 diabetes following a very low-carb diet had exceptionally good blood sugar control.  This flies in the face of conventional dietary recommendations.

People with Type 2 Diabetes Also Benefit from Cutting Carbs:

Although type 1 and type 2 diabetes have different causes, it seems that the same low-carbohydrate diet benefit both. Researchers compared low- and high-carbohydrate diets for managing type 2 diabetes (Tay et al, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Oct. 2015). People who followed a low-carb diet (<50 g/day) for a year had more stable blood glucose and better blood lipids than those on a high-carb diet. They also needed fewer diabetes medicines. Glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), a measure of blood sugar over several weeks, improved on both diets.

A two-year study compared an energy-restricted low-carb diet high in unsaturated fat and low in saturated fat to a high-carb low-fat diet for people with type 2 diabetes (Tay et al, Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism, April 2018). Here too, the group following the low-carb diet reduced the medicine they needed, stabilized their blood sugar and lowered their blood lipids more than the group on the high-carb diet.

How Can You Start Cutting Carbs?

You can learn more about how to follow a low-carbohydrate diet in our book, Quick & Handy Home Remedies. In it you will learn which foods to avoid and which should be staples in such an eating plan.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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