A Low-Carb Diet Improves Quality of Life for Diabetics

Happy older couple laughing outdoors

A Swedish study on low-carb diets for type 2 diabetes previously showed that blood sugar improved, and the need for medication was reduced. Now another analysis from the study shows that it also provided a better quality of life.

During the course of the study, the participants answered questionnaires and were interviewed in person. When this material was analyzed under direction of Associate Professor Margareta Bachrach-Lindström, an improvement in terms of physical performance, bodily pain and general health was found in the low-carb group. None of these improvements were seen in the low-fat group, despite the fact that they lost just as much weight. Mental health was unchanged during the course of the study and did not differ between the groups.

– The result is interesting and provides further argument for the idea that a low-carb diet may be beneficial for diabetics. We saw no evidence that the low-carb diet provided any psychological symptoms, as previously feared, says Hans Guldbrand.

When will diabetics cease to be subjected to low-fat diet recommendations, which provide a worse weight outcome, worse health markers and a worse quality of life?

More

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Low-Carb for Beginners

The study: Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice: Randomization to a low-carbohydrate diet advice improves health related quality of life compared with a low-fat diet at similar weight loss in Type 2 diabetes mellitus

22 Comments

Top Comments

  1. murray
    "Well, DH, your alcoholism recovery looks great and your liver panel looks much better. This radical technique of treating alcoholism by not drinking alcohol is counter-intuitive but looks to have promise. Who would have thought?. Next visit I would like to confirm this by doing an alcohol tolerance test. I will have you drink a triple martini on an empty stomach and we'll see how drunk you feel. Hopefully you really can hold your liquor better now and you can get back to 5 drinks a day."

    "But doctor, when I don't drink alcohol for a long time, I feel MORE drunk on the same amount of booze."

    Reply: #10
    Read more →
  2. greensleeves
    DH

    don't take the glucose tolerance test unless you go high carb for a few days first. Months of LCHF will have downregulated your ability to process the sugar solution they give you in the test. Thus you will fail spectacularly and your doctor will freak out, forbid you to eat LCHF and slam you on lots of medicine, while writing in your medical history that you're an uncontrollable and unco-operative diabetic. :D

    Either refuse the test, or go high carb for a week if you must take it.

    Please know that T2D is not currently curable. LCHF will not cure or reverse it. You are in remission, which is a remarkable achievement, but your T2D will never go away. I'm sorry. You're broken, and you can't be fixed.

    But! You can stay as you are in remission. So do that! Because alternative is suffering. Best wishes.

    Read more →

All Comments

  1. LarryB
    Alas, there are too many entrenched interests making money from either treating the disease, or in selling us more and more processed sugar and grain products.
    The only thing that's likely to move the bar will be more and more people ignoring medical guidance an seriously hacking their diet on their own. And even then, change would come from individual doctors, not the big organizations. It's hard to ignore when a subset of your patients start getting a lot better through a different diet than they're told to eat.
  2. Galina L.
    It is not necessary to have diabetes to observe the improvement in own quality of life on a LC diet.
  3. Vicente
    One of my uncles has been a T2D for 30 years. He is now 78 years old, if I am not wrong. He is completely blind because of the diabetes. He has always been a sensible person and he did his best to control the diabetes.

    One of my brothers has also been a diabetic since he was 8 years old. When he was in his 40s he had kidney failure and he was in dialysis until he received a new kidney and a new pancreas.

    Quality of life is keeping your glucose in the normal levels following a ketogenic diet.

    Replies: #8, #11
  4. DH
    I was diagnosed as Type 2 in January this year and was clearly becoming very ill.
    Standard advice was given with regards to diet and exercise but I chose to follow my own path with a LCHF eating plan. My blood glucose levels are running at non-diabetic levels and my doctor is showing great interest in what I've done. He plans to do a glucose tolerence test in the new year to see if I've 'reversed' my condition.
    While I understand that this is not a cure, I must say that my health and quality of life have improved immeasurably.

    If you're thinking of making the change, don't wait, start today.
    You won't regret it.

    Replies: #5, #6, #7
  5. greensleeves
    DH

    don't take the glucose tolerance test unless you go high carb for a few days first. Months of LCHF will have downregulated your ability to process the sugar solution they give you in the test. Thus you will fail spectacularly and your doctor will freak out, forbid you to eat LCHF and slam you on lots of medicine, while writing in your medical history that you're an uncontrollable and unco-operative diabetic. :D

    Either refuse the test, or go high carb for a week if you must take it.

    Please know that T2D is not currently curable. LCHF will not cure or reverse it. You are in remission, which is a remarkable achievement, but your T2D will never go away. I'm sorry. You're broken, and you can't be fixed.

    But! You can stay as you are in remission. So do that! Because alternative is suffering. Best wishes.

  6. murray
    "Well, DH, your alcoholism recovery looks great and your liver panel looks much better. This radical technique of treating alcoholism by not drinking alcohol is counter-intuitive but looks to have promise. Who would have thought?. Next visit I would like to confirm this by doing an alcohol tolerance test. I will have you drink a triple martini on an empty stomach and we'll see how drunk you feel. Hopefully you really can hold your liquor better now and you can get back to 5 drinks a day."

    "But doctor, when I don't drink alcohol for a long time, I feel MORE drunk on the same amount of booze."

    Reply: #10
  7. Zepp
    Heres some about it!

    "In overweight women, a diet with less than 10% of calories as carbs improved insulin sensitivity, while a 30% fat, low-fat diet reduced it.

    In obese, insulin-resistant women, both high-fat and high-protein low-carb diets reduced insulin resistance, while the high-carb diet was not as effective.

    In obese kids, a very low carb diet was able to reduce indices of insulin resistance along with bodyweight and body fatness.

    However, going very low carb – to around or below 10% of calories, or full-blown ketogenic – can induce “physiological” insulin resistance. Physiological insulin resistance is an adaptation, a normal biological reaction to a lack of dietary glucose."

    Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/does-eating-low-carb-cause-insulin-res...

  8. Nate
    Vincente, I totally agree. I've had T1D for 49 years and I'm sure that I'm not totally blind because I started eating LCHF ten years ago.

    Now, since I saw the movie Fed Up, I too am fed up. Those innocent kids in the movie have had their lives ruined by the bad low fat advice. So, I have joined the American Diabetes Association and plan to be a Trojan horse against their low fat advice. I may only connect to a few diabetics but if every LCHF advocate .......

    Reply: #9
  9. Vicente
    Hi Nate,
    I felt the same while watching FED UP. Those kids had no idea about how to escape from their health problems. They were eating more "healthy" grains and getting fatter and fatter. It was really heartbreaking.
  10. Chupo
    Funny but true!
  11. Boundless
    re: Quality of life is keeping your glucose in the normal levels following a ketogenic diet.

    KD might be the fastest way to reverse T2D, but is not necessary as a long term strategy. Just being dramatically lower carb than SAD, perhaps near the KD borderline of 50 grams net carbs/day suffices (plus getting your gut in order).

    T1D, on the other hand, may well benefit from chronic keto.

    Reply: #12
  12. Vicente
    Hi Boundless,
    I suppose you wanted to say "control", not "reverse".

    I don't disagree with you: my point was not about specific carb limits (although I think 30-50g should be right for that). My point was that not becoming blind, or not risking your life with an organ transplantation operation, is what I understand as "quality of life".

    Reply: #13
  13. FrankG
    I really think that quality of life is more than trusting that your health-care advice does not inevitably and avoidably lead to blindness, renal failure, amputation and early painfull death... but I do understand what you mean :-)

    As for "reverse" vs. "control"... again I'd use the analogy of holding your hand repeatedly over a flame... up to a certain point the pain, redness and blistering IS entirely reversable (with full recovery) if you stop the exposure... beyond that point you can end up with scar-tissue, which will never heal; although you can lessen the discomfort and reduce/eliminate the chance of any further complications by again stopping the exposure.

    In the same way I do think that if caught early enough, many of the symptoms we call Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2) can be slowed, stopped and even reversed (full recovery) by reducing exposure to the cause.

    ---

    I'm looking forward to the day when a statement like "A Low-Carb Diet Improves Quality of Life for Diabetics" is met with a resounding "well duh!" from our health-care advisors :-P

    Replies: #17, #18, #22
  14. Gillian
    my uncle was diagnosed with diabetes when he was a young child, before the availability of insulin, the doctor put him on a special diet, which as far as i know was low carb and low cal, my grandmother told me about cutting eggs in half and exchanging his sweet treats for quarters of apple, salt instead of toothpaste because of the sugar in it, etc... She was told that if he didn't adhere to this diet he would die.
    Well grandmother was very strict with him and he stuck with it until at around 10/11 years old he was pronounced free of diabetes, and the diet was ended. During his life he didn't tend to eat a great deal of sweet stuff as he wasn't used to it, and I suppose after years accostomed to the special diet he didn't overeat. As a young man he inlisted in the navy and led a completely normal life, travelled the world.He has been slim and in good health all his life, he is now 87 and is reasonably healthy taking into acount his age, he indulges in sweet treats occasionaly but he still cleans his teeth with salt!
  15. Elecia
    I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in May 2014. My dr wanted to start me on metformin. I told her I would rather try to bring my blood sugar down with diet. She was quite skeptical and told me that I would have to start taking medication at some point. I immediately started a low carb diet and light exercise (walking up 2 flights of stairs 15 times twice per day). I went back in early September and my blood sugar was down 8 points and I lost 20 pounds. I took me 3 months to get these results. She was quite surprised and asked what I was doing. I told her a low carb diet and exercise. She said to continue what I was doing and there was no need for medication nor do I need to monitor my blood sugar. Even my husband was skeptical. He put off his annual physical and went on the low carb diet and exercise with me. When he got the results from his labs everything was normal. He lost weight and is not feeling the aches and pains he had before.
  16. geekgurl11
    A really important question is whether those doing the analysis were blinded to which group each participant was in. Also were the participants randomised to the treatment?
  17. Nate
    Yeah, FrankG, me too! Unfortunately, many medical professionals now only say, "Duh?" to requests for advice about LCHF. But it is changing.
  18. Nate
    As far as the reverse vs control question, "by any other name, a rose is still a rose." Both describe the condition. But, I think I would use the word control most often for the same reason that alcoholics always start their conversations at an AA meetings with "I'm so and so and I'm an alcoholic." The idea is to remind themselves that they cannot drink alcohol or they will slip back into their bad habits. This goes for those who have been abstaining for 20 days or 20 years.
    Reply: #19
  19. FrankG
    In terms of Type 2 Diabetes as a chronic disease process: I'd never go so far as to say "cured", so in that sense "controlled" or "managed" are probably more appropriate words to use but in the case of the symptoms and long-term complications, I do think there is a realistic potential for slowing, stopping or even reversing them.
  20. Cindy C
    This was just in the news, in that a lipid, FAHFA,, helps regulate/perhaps prevent diabetes, and reduces inflammation. The article mentioned foods containing it, but not which foods. It is stated a person's body can make it.

    http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-10-scientists-good-fat-diabetes.html

    http://dash.harvard.edu/handle/1/10310131?show=full

    Details on the "invention "

    http://www.google.it/patents/WO2013166431A1?cl=en

    Reply: #21
  21. Zepp
    It rises when you eat fatty food.. and it works the same way as Omega-3, at the same site!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GPR120

  22. robert
    A case report:

    http://www.ijcasereportsandimages.com/archive/2014/010-2014-ijcri/CR-...

    "Type 1 diabetes mellitus successfully managed with the paleolithic ketogenic diet

    Introduction: Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) patients are usually instructed to follow a low fat/high carbohydrate diet. A few studies in literature, however, reported metabolic benefits and sustainability of carbohydrate restricted diets.

    Case Report: Herein, we present a case of a 19-year-old male with newly diagnosed T1DM. The patient was first put on an insulin regime. Twenty days later, he shifted towards the paleolithic ketogenic diet and was able to discontinue insulin. Strict adherence to the diet resulted in normal glucose levels and a more than three-fold elevation of C-peptide level indicating restored insulin production. Currently, the patient is on the paleolithic ketogenic diet for 6.5 months. He is free of complaints, and no side effects emerged.

    Conclusion: We conclude that the paleolithic ketogenic diet was effective and safe in the management of this case of newly diagnosed T1DM. Marked increase in C peptide level within two months indicates that the paleolithic ketogenic diet may halt or reverse autoimmune processes destructing pancreatic beta cell function in T1DM."

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