New research from Sweden offers encouraging news for people with type 1 diabetes: a moderate low-carb diet can help maintain blood sugar levels within target ranges, potentially reducing the risk of organ damage.
This study suggests that strict dietary restrictions may not be necessary for effective diabetes management.
The study, led by Sofia Sterner Isaksson, a dietician and doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg, focused on individuals with type 1 diabetes.
This condition occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone that helps blood sugar enter cells to be used as energy. Without enough insulin, blood sugar levels can rise to dangerous levels, leading to serious health problems.
Isaksson and her team conducted a study with 50 participants (25 men and 25 women) with an average age of 48, all living with type 1 diabetes. The participants were split into two groups.
One group followed a traditional diet, with about half of their energy intake coming from carbohydrates. The other group was placed on a moderate low-carbohydrate diet, where only 30% of their energy came from carbs.
Both groups included individuals with elevated blood sugar levels who managed their condition with insulin injections or pumps.
To accurately monitor the effects, participants wore continuous blood sugar monitoring devices, which recorded their levels at least every 15 minutes over a 16-week period.
The diets for both groups were balanced and healthy, rich in vegetables, fiber, unsaturated fats, nuts, seeds, and legumes, and were tailored to each individual by a dietitian.
The results were promising. Those on the moderate low-carb diet had their blood sugar levels within the target range for an additional 68 minutes per day, on average, compared to those on the traditional diet.
Additionally, the time they spent with high blood sugar levels was reduced by 85 minutes per day.
One significant finding was that both diets were equally safe. Blood pressure and cholesterol levels remained similar across both groups, and participants reported feeling more satisfied with the moderate low-carb diet.
Importantly, levels of ketones, which can become dangerously high with reduced carbohydrate intake in type 1 diabetes, remained at safe levels throughout the study.
Published in The Lancet Regional Health – Europe journal, these findings suggest that a moderate low-carbohydrate diet can be an effective and safe option for adults with type 1 diabetes, especially those with high glucose levels.
However, Isaksson emphasizes the importance of maintaining a healthy diet with a focus on the quality of fats and carbohydrates, and not reducing carb intake too much. Healthcare providers should offer support and monitoring for those considering such dietary changes.
Dr. Marcus Lind, a professor of diabetology at the University of Gothenburg and co-author of the study, highlighted the lack of research on different dietary treatments for type 1 diabetes.
He noted the importance of this study in demonstrating that a moderate low-carb diet can be both effective and safe for adults with this condition.
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The research findings can be found in The Lancet Regional Health—Europe.
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