Could a very low-carbohydrate diet really help Type 1 diabetics to manage blood sugar levels? Here are some things you might want to know before starting a new diet. ( Justin Sullivan | Getty Images )
New research finds that a very low-carbohydrate diet actually helps patients with Type 1 diabetes to manage their blood sugar levels. What are some important things to know about low-carbohydrate diets?
Very Low-Carb Diet For Diabetics
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics shows how a group of patients with Type 1 diabetes were able to control their blood sugar levels with the help of a very low-carbohydrate diet. To gather their findings, researchers conducted a survey in which over 300 people with Type 1 diabetes participated, 130 of whom were children whose parents had consented to their participation.
Interestingly, researchers found that the patients who consumed a very low-carbohydrate and high-protein diet while also taking lower doses of insulin than normally required, had exceptional control of their blood sugar levels. In fact, their average blood sugar levels were at 5.67 percent which is just below the normal level of 5.7 percent when the typical blood sugar threshold for diabetic patients is 6.5 percent.
The participants also had lower rates of complication, and children on the diet did not exhibit any signs of stunted growth.
Moderate-, Low-, And Very Low-Carbohydrate Diet
By definition, a low-carbohydrate diet is one that limits the intake of carbohydrates and emphasizes the intake of protein and fat. Generally, a moderate carbohydrate diet involves the consumption of 130 to 225 grams of carbohydrates per day, while the consumption of less than 130 grams of carbohydrates per day is considered a low-carbohydrate diet. A very low-carbohydrate diet involves the consumption of just less than 30 grams of carbohydrates a day.
For instance, a person going on a low- or very low-carbohydrate diet may choose to omit sugar-sweetened foods and drinks, white bread, pasta, and starchy fruits and vegetables, and instead opt for non-starchy vegetables as well as proteins such as fish, lean meat, and poultry.
There are various types of low-carbohydrate diets, and a lot of them are designed for weight-loss and weight management. However, many individuals also go on such diets for health benefits beyond weight loss. For instance, a low-carbohydrate diet can reduce risk factors for diabetes, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. Further, it can also improve blood cholesterol levels, likely because it also focuses on the quality of the food, and not just calorie intake.
Other benefits of a low carbohydrate-diet include clearer thinking, having less cravings for sugary food, and having more energy throughout the day.
As with most diets, there are temporary side effects and risks associated with such diets. These include fatigue, headaches, brain fog, constipation, bad breath, and possible nutrient deficiencies.
Many diabetes experts don’t typically recommend low- and very low-carbohydrate diets for patients with type 1 diabetes, especially for children as it could lead to dangerously low blood sugar levels and stunted growth, though the current study shows otherwise. As such, it’s important to remember to consult a physician before starting any diet, especially ones that would require radical shifts in eating habits.
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