The keto diet could be more than just a trendy health fad.
According to one study, a very low-carb diet can significantly lower blood sugar levels in people with prediabetes.
The ketogenic diet involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with foods high in fat and protein.
Proponents claim it can lead to a myriad of health benefits, from keeping your mind sharp to improving heart health.
Although many claims have been proven to be false or unprovable, the latest study indicates that the diet can prevent type 2 diabetes in those most at risk.
The researchers looked at 150 people between the ages of 40 and 70 whose blood sugar levels ranged from prediabetic to diabetic and who were not taking medication for the disease.
One group ate their normal diet and were followed for six months. The others ate the equivalent of only 16 grams of carbs per month, the same as a single slice of bread.
People with diabetes or prediabetes who ate no more than 60 mg of carbs a day for six months saw lower hemoglobin A1c levels than people who followed their normal diet.
At the end of the study, people in the low-carb group saw a 0.26% decrease in hemoglobin A1c, or the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood.
Switching to a very low-carb diet might be enough to help prediabetics avoid worsening A1c levels, potentially avoiding a diagnosis of diabetes.
What is the keto diet and is it safe?
- According to Healthline, the keto diet is a “low-carb, high-fat diet” that “involves drastically reducing carbohydrate intake and replacing it with fat.”
- Cutting carbs puts your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. When this happens, your body becomes ‘incredibly efficient at burning fat for energy’
- UChicagoMedicine has reported that the keto diet can cause low blood pressure, kidney stones, constipation, nutrient deficiencies, and an increased risk of heart disease.
- MayoClinic also claimed, “There is very little evidence to show that this type of diet is effective – or safe – in the long term for anything other than epilepsy.” Additionally, very low carb diets tend to have higher rates of side effects, including constipation, headaches, bad breath and more. Additionally, meeting dietary requirements means cutting out many healthy foods, making it difficult to meet your micronutrient needs.
The group that maintained their normal diet saw their A1c levels drop by about 0.10 to 0.02 percent.
People in the low-carb group saw their A1c levels drop 0.23% more than people in the group who maintained their normal diet.
Dr. Kirsten Dorans, lead author and assistant professor of epidemiology at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, called the findings “small but clinically relevant.”
“The key message is that a low carbohydrate diet, if maintained, could be a useful approach to preventing and treating type 2 diabetes, although further research is needed.”
The results were published in the journal JAMA Network Open.
About 37 million Americans have diabetes, and type 2 diabetes accounts for 90% of those cases.
Meanwhile, approximately 96 million American adults have prediabetes.
Risk factors for developing diabetes include being overweight, a family history of diabetes, not maintaining an active lifestyle, and consuming a lot of alcohol and fat.
People over 35 and those who are African American, Native American, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander have a predisposition to type 2 diabetes.
People with diabetes are encouraged by healthcare professionals to maintain a low-carb diet, which can help people with diabetes better manage their blood sugar, reduce medication needs, and reduce the risk of diabetic complications such as heart disease, chronic kidney disease and nerve damage. .
The American Diabetes Association officially recommends that people with diabetes and prediabetes follow a low-carb, low-glycemic, high-protein diet to help manage their blood sugar.
The study doesn’t say diet alone can manage a person’s blood sugar levels, but Dr. Dorans said it opens the door to further investigation.
Dr Dorans said: “We already know that a low carbohydrate diet is a dietary approach used in people with type 2 diabetes, but there is not as much evidence on the effects of this diet on blood sugar levels in people with prediabetes.”
“Future work could be done to see if this dietary approach can be an alternative approach for the prevention of type 2 diabetes,” she added.
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