Not all low-carb diets can reduce risk of type 2 diabetes

Credit: Louis Hansel / Unsplash

A recent study at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has shown that when it comes to low-carb diets, the quality of food matters more than quantity.

Researchers found that a plant-based, low-carb diet was associated with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, while an animal-based, low-carb diet was associated with a higher risk.

The team says that the key to preventing the risk of Type 2 diabetes is to pay attention to the quality of the food.

Low-carb diets are popular because they can help to reduce weight quickly within six to 12 months. However, it is unclear why they are so effective or how they affect long-term health.

There are many different types of low-carb diets, including the ketogenic diet, which severely restricts carbohydrates, and the Paleo diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.

Some studies have suggested that very low-carb diets may improve blood glucose levels in people with prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes.

However, the number of carbs consumed in these diets varies and the emphasis on eating fats raises concerns about how the diets may affect cholesterol levels and heart health.

In the study, researchers investigated the link between low-carb eating and the odds of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The analysis used dietary and medical data for 203,541 adults from three large national studies.

Participants filled out questionnaires every four years about the foods they were eating and were followed for up to 30 years. None had diabetes at the outset.

The foods people ate were classified into 18 groups, and the quality of the diets was evaluated based on these groups.

The preliminary data shows that people in the lowest-carb group who got more of their protein and fat from plant-based sources had a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, while those who ate diets emphasizing animal protein and fat had a higher risk.

Wang says one weakness of the study was that most of the people in it were white, and further research is needed to determine if the results can be generalized to other ethnic groups.

The American Heart Association recommends eating a diet that includes a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and healthy sources of protein, such as fish and seafood, legumes and nuts, low-fat or nonfat dairy, and lean meats.

It also encourages choosing minimally processed foods over ultra-processed foods and limiting sugar, salt, and alcohol.

How to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes

There are several lifestyle changes that can help reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes:

Healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help maintain a healthy weight, reduce inflammation, and improve insulin sensitivity.

Regular exercise: Physical activity can help lower blood glucose levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and aid in weight loss. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.

Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Losing even a small amount of weight can make a big difference in reducing diabetes risk.

Quit smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor for many diseases, including Type 2 diabetes. Quitting smoking can help improve insulin sensitivity and overall health.

Manage stress: Chronic stress can lead to inflammation and insulin resistance, increasing the risk of diabetes. Practicing stress-management techniques, such as meditation or yoga, can help reduce stress levels.

Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can affect hormone levels and lead to insulin resistance, increasing diabetes risk. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

By making these lifestyle changes, individuals can reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and improve their overall health.

It is important to speak with a healthcare provider before making any significant changes to diet or exercise routine.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about plant fat that may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, and Stanford study finds drug that prevents kidney failure in diabetes.

For more information about diabetes, 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 presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions conference.

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