IS LOW-CARB THE BEST DIET FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES?
Here at niKETO, we stress that eating low-carb isn’t just your diet, it’s your way of life. Low-carb is a lifestyle because you need to commit yourself to your health, and keeping yourself healthy needs to be a lifelong pursuit.
Eating low-carb shouldn’t be treated as just a means to an end to be cast away when a weight goal is reached. It’s a way of eating for life that will ensure you actually get more life to live with the best of quality.
This philosophy has never been more fitting than it is for low-carb dieters with type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can cause a tremendous amount of health problems in those who have it, problems that lead to shorter lives with a much more difficult road along the way (1).
Just look at a short list of the nagging health issues type 2 diabetes can bring:
Risk of stroke (2)
Sudden loss of consciousness (3)
Visual impairments (4)
Higher risk of heart disease (5)
Higher risk of infection (6)
Slower healing time (7)
Extreme fatigue (8)
Higher blood pressure (9)
Pancreas problems (12)
Kidney damage (13)
Damages blood vessels (14)
Foot problems leading to amputation (15)
Nerve damage (16)
And the list goes on.
Fortunately, a low-carb diet can help (18). Not only can low-carb alleviate type 2 diabetic symptoms, it’s been shown to cause a reversal by normalizing the amount of sugar in your blood (19).
TYPE 2 DIABETES REVERSAL THROUGH LOW-CARB LIVING
As of 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 422 million people worldwide have type 2 diabetes, a number that is up from 108 million people in 1980.
Why is 1980 such a landmark year? Because the low-fat diet fad began in the early 80s, and since then, the number of type 2 diabetes cases has more than quadrupled (20).
Making and marketing food as "low-fat" means pumping it full of added sugars and unnecessary, harmful amounts of carbs to make up for the missing flavor removed with the fat.
This is the biggest reason for the United States’ and the world’s diabetes epidemic (21).
If we reverse engineer how we got into this trouble by cutting the carbs while eating naturally occurring fats, we can help solve the issue for those who have type 2 diabetes, and we can prevent future generations from getting it. Hopefully, by cutting down the sugar and carb consumption for our children, that 422 million number will shrink rather than continue to skyrocket.
Here’s how we do that and why it works:
First, what is type 2 diabetes? Of the 422 million cases worldwide, it’s estimated that about 1/3 of those people have no idea they have diabetes (22). So knowing what it is, and how to spot it, can quite literally be a life saver.
Diabetes is a disease that alters the way your body handles glucose (sugar) in your blood. Everyone’s pancreas creates the hormone insulin that turns the glucose we eat into the energy that keeps us going (23).
Type 2 diabetics create the insulin, but their cellular function doesn’t allow for proper and efficient usage of insulin.
This metabolic issue is known as insulin resistance (24). Resistance to insulin absorption for conversion to energy tricks the pancreas into creating and pumping out more insulin while the liver continues to make the glucose, leaving diabetics with an overabundance of blood sugar saturation.
Creating too much sugar due to unresponsive cells is a self-perpetuating problem because elevated blood sugar can further damage the cells, making the issue even worse and even less likely to absorb the glucose.
Genetic predisposition is major contributor that we unfortunately have no control over (25). What we can control is the food we put into our bodies, and keeping glucose production low is a huge factor in regulating the blood glucose that throws our systems into diabetic disarray (26).
Now that we know what type 2 diabetes is (too much glucose in the blood with a resistance to the insulin that helps regulate it) we have a basic idea of what needs to be done to cure it, or at least stop it.
The principles behind low-carb eating are to cut the carbs down to almost non-existent quantities while eating a majority fat so the body will stop relying on a glucose-based energy source and start using the ketones for energy that a mostly fat-based diet forces the liver to produce (27).
Eating fewer than 20g of carbs per day and allowing high-quality fats to make up 75% of your daily caloric intake, starves the liver of the sugars it needs to make the glucose that overruns the system in a diabetic body. Less glucose pumped into the blood means better insulin response since there’s less work to be done, and the pancreas doesn’t need to keep up a furious pace pumping out more and more insulin.
With insulin response regulated due to less glucose, the insulin can better do its job of supplying your cells with energy.
But didn’t we just say glucose was that energy? How does eating less glucose make for better cell absorption for energy if we cut that fuel out of our diet?
This is where the ketone production comes in. Ketones are another metabolic pathway your body can use to fuel its energy consumption.
By eating low-carb and high fat, you are switching your body from one energy source to another.
Think about a barbecue. You can use wood, or you can use propane, 2 different fuels that both keep the fire burning. Ketones are just that: an alternate fuel source that will run your body efficiently with the added benefit of keeping blood glucose very low and your insulin from dramatically spiking and falling throughout the day.
LOW-CARB TO HEAL TYPE 2 DIABETES
Type 2 diabetes is unfortunately a disease that stays with you for life. If you aren’t mindful, keeping a close eye on it by eating right and checking your sugar levels, it will play havoc on your system.
But with a low-carb diet that stops your liver’s ability to over produce the harmful sugars that hurt a type 2 diabetic, you can manage the disease into nothing more than a blip.
Many type 2 diabetics have reported that switching to a low-carb, high-fat diet has helped them drop the weight and taken them out of the obese range that is considered a huge progenitor and perpetuator of type 2 diabetes and the problems that come with it (28).
Those same people have praised a low-carb lifestyle for getting them off of injectable insulin, blood pressure medications, and a host of other drugs that come part and parcel with the negative health effects of diabetes.
Here is what one niKETO reader with type 2 diabetes told us about his low-carb journey:
“The keto diet [low-carb diet] made it so I didn’t have to take so many medications any more. I cut way down on insulin, I stopped the blood pressure pills, and I didn’t need the Lasix for my eyes any more. Aside from not having to shovel all that into my mouth every single day, I save a few hundred dollars a month not having to buy them and not having to waste my time going to pick them up.” -Gordon M.
Imagine not having to take a handful of medicine every day, and saving tons of money not having to purchase them, all because you switched your diet and cut out the harmful sugars and carbs.
It’s that simple.
This report, done on a variety of diets and their effects on type 2 diabetes, shows that low-carb diets high in fat are the best answer for reversing the damage done by diabetes.
It also talks about the other benefits of eating low-carb and how those benefits self-perpetuate the healing: losing weight, improved cardiovascular function, improved skin health, and inflammation reduction are all low-carb lifestyle positives that add up, and each helps to chip away at the causes and terrible side-effects of type 2 diabetes.
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