Consider low carbohydrate for diabetes management, says study

08 Mar 2017 — Following a reduced carbohydrate diet can help to lower blood glucose levels, providing a safe and effective strategy for managing diabetes, according to new research from the London Metropolitan University.

In an abstract published in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, the authors conducted a systematic review of previous intervention studies, analyzing changes to participant’s glycated haemoglobin levels following a switch to a lower carbohydrate diet.

Glycated haemoglobin forms when haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells, combines with glucose and is used to measure long-term blood glucose levels.

The review, which was conducted by Michelle McKenzie and Sarah Illingworth from London Met’s School of Human Sciences, found that individual’s glycated haemoglobin levels fell when following a reduced carbohydrate diet (up to 120g per day) with the greatest reduction of 2.2% observed in those consuming under 30g per day.

Lead author Michelle McKenzie said: “Our findings suggest that a reduced carbohydrate diet can be an effective technique for managing diabetes and new guidelines that promote lower carbohydrate intakes for both the general population, and those with diabetes, should seriously be considered.”

“More long-term studies are required to ensure that the results can be confidently translated into clinical practice, however, the science at this point in time is compelling and should not be ignored.”

The research comes shortly after news of a new diet book from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) promoting its low carb, high protein diet, which they say “provide another great option for people concerned about weight management or type 2 diabetes.”

Aisling Pigott, spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association (BDA) told NutritionInsight that low-carb diets in general suggest that one nutrient (i.e. Healthy diet definition Carbohydrate) can be detrimental to weight management.

However, she says: “We know that weight management is much more complex than simply carbohydrate intake.”

“Being aware of carbohydrate intake (and other nutrients) is incredibly important in the management of Type 2 Diabetes.”

“Being aware and enjoying appropriate portions of carbohydrate is an essential part of the management of Type 2 Diabetes and general health.”

Participants following a reduced carbohydrate diet reported a significant decrease in bodyweight, losing a median of 4.7kg over a two year period compared to 2.9kg lost by those consuming a low fat diet.

A low carbohydrate diet was also associated with a decrease in the psychological stress associated with diabetes management and a reduction in negative moods between meals.


Co-author Sarah Illingworth said: “It’s important to consider which food groups should be used to replace carbohydrates when altering diet.”

“Previous research has shown that diets high in fat, particularly saturated fat, carry risks for people with Type 2 diabetes.”

“Clinical guidelines should be reviewed to consider including low carbohydrate diets as a diabetes management strategy but this does not mean that it will suitable, or beneficial, for everyone.”

“Changes to diet should only be undertaken after consulting with a qualified dietitian and taking into account individual medical needs.”

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