Low-carb diet improves type 2 diabetes control
Monday, January 05, 2009
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A low-carbohydrate diet such as the familiar Atkins diet improves control of blood sugar levels in obese individuals with type 2 diabetes, researchers have shown.
In fact, the diet allows some patients to reduce or eliminate their medication, according to the report in the medical journal Nutrition and Metabolism.
Carbohydrate restriction is at the heart of a diabetic diet. A very low carb diet causes the body to use protein to provide energy, which produces ketones, and it is therefore called a ketogenic diet. Another dietary approach is to use foods with a low glycemic index, ie, that don't cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, and to cut back on calories.
Dr. Eric C. Westman, of Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, and colleagues compared the effectiveness of the two diets in 84 obese patients with type 2 diabetes. They were assigned to a low carbohydrate (less than 20 grams per day) ketogenic diet or to low-glycemic reduced-calorie diet for 24-weeks. Those on the low-carb ketogenic diet had no restrictions on their daily calorie intake.
The participants on the low-carb ketogenic diet had greater improvements in A1C, a measure of long-term blood glucose control, than those in the low-glycemic reduced-calorie diet group.
Those in the low-carb ketogenic diet group also lost more weight and had an increase in "good" HDL cholesterol compared with those in the other diet group.
It was possible for 95.2 percent of those in the low-carb ketogenic diet group and 62.1 percent on the low-glycemic reduced-calorie diet to eliminate or reduce their diabetes medications.
"Lifestyle modification using low carbohydrate interventions is effective for improving and reversing type 2 diabetes," the researchers conclude.
SOURCE: Nutrition and Metabolism, December 2008.