The diet that can put type 2 diabetes into remission

Consuming fewer carbohydrates can potentially put type 2 diabetes into remission.

An international study involving Australia’s CSIRO found that strict adherence to a low carb diet for six months is associated with higher rates of remission among people with type 2 diabetes.

“Compared to other diets, low carb diets were associated with a 32 per cent increase in diabetes remission,” reports Healthline.

“Those who followed a low carb diet also experienced weight loss, healthier body fat concentrations, and reduced medication use.”

It says there are “significant benefits” to following a low carb diet in the short term, but more research is needed to better understand the long-term effects on weight loss, blood sugar levels and quality of life.

Professor Grant Brinkworth, contributing author to the study and CSIRO research scientist, said the low carb diet delivered the greatest health improvements.

“Building on existing research, this study underscores that a low carb diet can achieve greater weight loss and is more effective in reducing diabetes medication and improving blood glucose control,” Prof. Brinkworth said.

“However, this study has gone one step further in showing the low carb dietary approach to be effective in driving type 2 diabetes into remission.

“We know that lifestyle factors such as what we eat play a major part in determining our risk to type 2 diabetes. The good news is these lifestyle choices are within our control to change.”

Prof. Brinkworth said the findings underlined the need for diet support tools.

“These results show low carb diets can be a really effective dietary approach for type 2 diabetes management, however the challenge is to provide patients with easy-to-use support tools and convenient product solutions to help them adhere to it long term to gain these greater health improvements,” he said.

Most people have difficulty maintaining a low carb diet for more than six months.

Dr Minisha Sood, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City, told Healthline she routinely recommended low carb diets to her patients with type 2 diabetes.

“I find that over time, in those who are non-adherent, the benefits may diminish. However, in those patients who can persevere and continue this nutritional approach, they usually continue to reap the benefits,” Dr Sood said.

When “carbohydrate intake is lowered, the burden on their bodies to overproduce insulin to deal with those carbohydrates is also lowered,” Dr Sood explained.

Insulin is a hormone created by the pancreas that controls the amount of glucose in the bloodstream, helps store glucose in the liver, fat, and muscles, and regulates the body’s metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

Dr Sood advises her patients to start with one meal at a time.

For example, she suggests they lower their carb intake at dinner by about 50 per cent by swapping out unhealthy carbohydrates for healthier sources such as healthy grains or lentils.

Breakfast, lunch, and snacks can then be targeted.

She recommends non-starchy vegetables and low glycaemic index fruits such as berries, healthy grains such as quinoa, sweet potatoes, and brown rice and lentils.

Sweets and processed foods, which Dr Sood said were often carb-based, are swapped out for healthier options.

Healthy fats include nuts, avocado, guacamole, hummus and olives. Other foods that feature in low carb diets are eggs, cheese, poultry and fish.

“After about two weeks, patients start to notice that they have more energy, they may have some weight loss, they may have more stable mood, and an overall better sense of wellbeing,” Dr Sood said.

A food diary can help people who are new to a low carbohydrate diet stay on track.

It is recommended that patients seek expert advice and aim for a balanced low carb, high fibre diet. Overly restrictive diets are often counter-productive.

Diabetes has become one of the great global health challenges of the 21st century. Worldwide it is estimated that one in 11 adults have diabetes and that it is responsible for about 11 per cent of deaths annually.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease, with 90-95 per cent of all cases.

Diabetes is a disorder of blood sugar (glucose) and insulin. 

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition in which the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and/or gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the pancreas. 

It usually develops in adults over the age of 45, but is increasingly occurring in younger age groups.

Symptoms include being excessively thirsty; passing more urine; feeling tired and lethargic; always feeling hungry; cuts that heal slowly; itching, skin infections; blurred vision; weight gain; mood swings; headaches; feeling dizzy and leg cramps.

Have you ever sought the advice of a dietitian? Have you ever had success with a diet change?

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Written by Will Brodie

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