Very-low-carb diet shows promise in type 1 diabetes

Survey finds an exceptional blood-sugar control with few complications; researchers call for clinical trials.


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A low-carb diet limits carbohydrates — such as those found in grains, starchy vegetables, and fruit — and emphasizes foods high in protein and fat. Some low-carb diets may have health benefits beyond weight loss, such as reducing risk factors associated with type 1 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

An online patient survey suggests that the very-low-carbohydrate diets can improve blood sugar control in type 1 diabetes, with low rates of hypoglycemia and other complications.

Scientists gathered the data from the TypeOneGrit, a Facebook community of people with type 1 diabetes committed to a very-low-carb diet as recommended by the book Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution. Almost 493 volunteers were the part of the survey and 42 % were children among them.

316 participants among them offered enough data to be incorporated into the examination. For 138 of these members, the specialists could affirm diabetes finding, glucose control measures, metabolic health measures and different results with human services suppliers or through survey of medical records.

Participants reported an average daily carbohydrate intake of 36 grams, or about 5 percent of total calories. Self-reported hemoglobin A1c values — the primary measure of blood-sugar control — averaged in the normal range, at 5.67 percent.

Participants required lower-than-average doses of insulin (mean, 0.40 U/kg/day), and those for whom data were available had favorable measures of insulin sensitivity and cardiometabolic health, such as low triglyceride levels and high HDL cholesterol levels.

More than 80 percent of survey respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with their diabetes management. Yet about a quarter said they did not discuss the very-low-carb diet with their diabetes care providers, some citing concerns about being criticized or even being accused of child abuse.

The researchers, led by Belinda Lennerz, MD, PhD, and David Ludwig, MD, PhD, of Boston Children’s Hospital, now call for controlled clinical trials of this approach.

Scientists noted, extreme sugar confinement is really an exceptionally old approach in type 1 diabetes.1 Before the disclosure of insulin, it expanded children’ lives, some of the time for a considerable length of time. When insulin was presented, carb limitation dropped not representing the cause very well.

Scientists believe that the study could call for randomized clinical trials to rigorously test the diet’s safety and efficacy.

Findings were reported today in the journal Pediatrics.