For years, doctors and dietitians have been arguing about the best diet for people with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association has long recommended cutting fat, especially saturated fat, which leaves people eating more carbohydrates to meet their calorie needs. However, some studies suggest that low-carb diets can help prevent or control diabetes (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Oct. 2015).
Low-Carb Diets for People with Diabetes:
Danish researchers report that people with type 2 diabetes might do well to skip the Danish at breakfast. That’s because a diet lower in carbohydrates with more fat and protein can help people keep their blood sugar under control (Diabetologia, July 23, 2019). The investigators conducted a three-month long study. During that time, 28 people with type 2 diabetes followed low-carb diets higher in fat diet or higher-carb diets that adhered to dietary recommendations for diabetes.
Calories were controlled to prevent weight loss. (Weight loss is a benefit for many people with type 2 diabetes. Often dropping several pounds allows for better blood glucose control.)
People who followed the low-carb diet did better on regulating blood sugar. In addition, they had less fat in their livers at the end of the study. This is important, since non-alcoholic fatty liver disease complicates blood sugar control (Annals of Medicine, 2005).
Can Diet Reverse Type 2 Diabetes?
This research adds to the debate on reversing type 2 diabetes with lifestyle or diet. People can reverse this metabolic disorder with bariatric surgery, low-energy diets leading to weight loss, or low-carb diets (Nutrients, April 1, 2019). Other scientists have pointed out that the quality of carbs in the diet may be more important than the quantity. They cite studies showing that unrefined, high-fiber carbs can also contribute to reversal (Nutrients, July 2019).
The People’s Pharmacy Perspective:
People with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes should try low-carb diets to see if they help. We suspect that such a dietary program will help many but not all patients. On the other hand, avoiding highly processed foods, especially refined flour and added sugar, should benefit everyone.
We offer more information on blood sugar control in our Guide to Managing Diabetes. In addition, you may wish to listen to our interviews about exercise and botanical medicines to reverse diabetes. You’ll find them in Show 1036: How to Prevent Diabetes by Changing Your Life.
Our interview with Dr. Joel Fuhrman focuses on the dangers of processed food and what we could eat instead. It is Show 1122: Can You Keep Fast Food from Killing You?