Approximately 96 million Americans have prediabetes and more than 80% of those with prediabetes are unaware they have it, according to the CDC.
Those with prediabetes are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, or strokes and are usually not taking medications to lower blood sugar levels, making a healthy diet more crucial.
In a study from Tulane University, scientists found a low-carb diet can help people with unmedicated diabetes, and those at risk for diabetes, lower their blood sugar.
Low-carb diets are often recommended for those being treated for diabetes.
But until now little evidence existed on whether eating fewer carbs can affect the blood sugar of those with diabetes or prediabetes who aren’t taking medications.
In the study, researchers tested participants whose blood sugar ranged from prediabetic to diabetic levels and who were not on diabetes medication.
The team compared two groups: one assigned to a low-carb diet and another that continued with their usual diet.
After six months, the team found the low-carb diet group had greater drops in hemoglobin A1c, a marker for blood sugar levels when compared with the group who ate their usual diet.
Those in the low-carb group saw A1c levels drop 0.23% more than the usual diet group, an amount the team says modestly but clinically relevant.
The low-carbohydrate diet group also lost weight and had lower fasting glucose levels.
The team says the key message is that a low-carbohydrate diet, if maintained, might be a useful approach for preventing and treating type 2 diabetes, though more research is needed.
The study’s findings are especially important for those with prediabetes whose A1c levels are higher than normal but below levels that would be classified as diabetes.
The study doesn’t prove that a low-carb diet prevents diabetes. But it does open the door to further research about how to mitigate the health risks of those with prediabetes and diabetes not treated by medication.
If you care about diabetes, please read studies that flaxseed oil is more beneficial than fish oil to people with diabetes, and Stanford study finds drug that prevents kidney failure in diabetes.
For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies that blueberries strongly benefit people with metabolic syndrome, and results showing new bandage for foot ulcers in people with diabetes.
The study was conducted by Kirsten Dorans et al and published in JAMA Network Open.
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