How Low-Carb Diets Affect Diabetes And Blood Sugar

A carb diet that can help people with type 2 diabetes and those with prediabetes by lowering blood sugar levels.

A carb diet that can help people with type 2 diabetes and those with prediabetes by lowering blood sugar levels.

Past studies have suggested that low-carbohydrate diets are as effective as low-fat diets for weight loss and reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Yet little evidence supports the effects of low-carb diets on haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) in those with prediabetes and unmedicated diabetes.

Haemoglobin is the part of red blood cells that carries oxygen to the body and glycohaemoglobin or HbA1c is a type of haemoglobin containing sugar found in the blood.

A study provides evidence that eating a low-carbohydrate diet would reduce HbA1c and lower blood sugar levels, important factors for preventing and treating type 2 diabetes.

Participants in this study were individuals with prediabetes or untreated diabetes between 40 and 70 years of age.

They were divided into two groups; one followed a diet containing less than 40g of carbohydrates per day and the other group went on with their usual diet for six months.

In the low-carb group, most calories came from protein and healthy fats such as nuts and olive oil that contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

During this period, those on the low-carb diet lost 6 kg on average and had reductions in HbA1c of 0.23 percent and lower blood glucose levels than the usual diet group.

The drop in HbA1c levels is modest but clinically important, especially for those with prediabetes as their blood glucose levels are higher than normal but lower than people with diabetes.

Dr┬áKirsten Dorans, the study’s first author, said:

“The key message is that a low-carbohydrate diet, if maintained, might be a useful approach for preventing and treating Type 2 diabetes, though more research is needed.”

About diabetes

Diabetes is a condition where blood sugar is too high because the body doesn’t respond to insulin that regulates glucose levels.

Over 37 million American adults have type 2 diabetes, of which more than 8 million are undiagnosed.

More than 100 million American adults have prediabetes and 80 percent of those are unaware of their condition.

Diabetes has a big impact on people’s life and can damage the heart, eyes, blood vessels, nerves, and kidneys.

Symptoms include blurry vision, tingling and numbness in hands and feet, fatigue, ache, and pain.

Dr Dorans said:

“We already know that a low-carbohydrate diet is one dietary approach used among people who have Type 2 diabetes, but there is not as much evidence on effects of this diet on blood sugar in people with prediabetes.

Future work could be done to see if this dietary approach may be an alternative approach for Type 2 diabetes prevention.”

The study was published in JAMA Network Open (Dorans et al., 2022).

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