Category Archives: Diabetic Diet

Guess What? I Was Right After All

Reviewers at London Metropolitan University wondered if carbohydrate restriction was a legitimate approach to controlling diabetes. No surprise to me, they conclude that it is:

“A carbohydrate restricted diet can provide a safe and effective solution for improving diabetes management and should have a place within the diabetic guidelines. The diet was effective in reducing postprandial hyperglycemia and glycaemic variability resulting in low levels of glycaemia without the risk of hypoglycaemia. The ability of the diet to reduce the symptoms of dyslipidemia is of particular importance and when compared to the traditional low fat diet for weight loss, the low carbohydrate diet was comparable and in some instances better. There were significant reductions or cessation of diabetic medication reported throughout the literature alongside a reduction in the psychological aspects of living with a long-term disease. It is possible that the current dietary advice may actually accelerate beta cell exhaustion with elevated blood glucose diminishing the islet cells ability to produce insulin.”

Action Plan. But it’s expensive: around $17.

No degludec up in here!

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Professor Tim Noakes: A Nutrition Heretic and His Low-Carb Epiphany

Paleo-compliant low-carb meal. I almost used this for my Paleobetic Diet book cover.

Paleo-compliant low-carb meal. I almost used this for my Paleobetic Diet book cover.

“I argue that the very reason we are facing an uncontrollable global diabetes/obesity pandemic at the moment, is because we have promoted dietary guidelines that are based solely on “evidence” from associational studies without acknowledging that RCTs [randomized controlled trials] have either not supported those conclusions or might have actively disproved them.

The solution in my mind is that we need to give dietary advice to persons with diabetes, T2DM [type 2 diabetes] especially, based on our understanding of the underlying patho-physiology of the condition, not on false information provided by associational epidemiological studies that are unable to prove causation.  I suggest that we know a number of features of the abnormal biology of T2DM with absolutely certainty.”

—Tim Noakes

Source: The Low Carb Diabetic: NOAKES: DOCTORS, DIETITIANS MAKE DIABETES A THREAT TO LIFE?

Bix Sez: We’ve Known For Decades That Low-Fat Diets Can Reverse Diabetes

“So, we’ve known for at least 30 years, 60 years by the looks of that 1955 Lancet study, that low-fat diets could arrest the symptoms of diabetes or prevent the disease altogether.

Robbins’ “Diet For A New America” was a popular lay-person’s book (1st edition sold over a million copies), not a medical tome. It was in the social realm. Why isn’t its low-fat advice common knowledge? I’ll tell you … It’s for reasons that induce stores like Natural Grocers to ban Dr. Greger’s plant-based book. It’s because having people eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet would hurt sales of animal food: beef, pork, chicken, fish, eggs, and all manner of dairy food – cheese, yogurt, milk, butter, cream. That’s why. And you know how the meat and dairy industries keep a lid on the science that could really help people? They come out with their own studies, often meta-analyses which go back in time and cherry pick studies that defend their position.”

Source: We’ve Known For Decades That Low-Fat Diets Can Reverse Diabetes | Fanatic Cook

One of the references Robbins uses to support his contention is a 1979 article in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It’s a study of 20 men, all of whom were on insulin for what I assume is type 2 diabetes. What’s odd is that the men were all “lean.” In real life, at least 85% of type 2 diabetics are overweight or obese. Not lean. Nevertheless, many of the men were able to stop insulin on the low-fat/high fiber diet. But these weren’t typical T2 diabetics.

President of Australian Diabetes Society On Paleo Diet for Diabetics: Don’t Do It

Really?

Really?

From SBS.com:

“People with type 2 diabetes should ditch the paleo diet until there’s substantial clinical evidence supporting its health benefits, warns the head of the Australian Diabetes Society.

It may be popular among celebrities but there’s little evidence to support the dozens of claims it can help manage the disease, says Associate Professor Sof Andrikopoulos.

“There have been only two trials worldwide of people with type 2 diabetes on what looks to be a paleo diet,” he said.

“Both studies had fewer than 20 participants, one had no control diet, and at 12 weeks or less, neither study lasted long enough for us to draw solid conclusions about the impact on weight or glycemic control.”

In a paper for the latest issue of the Australian Medical Journal, Andrikopoulos recommends people with type 2 diabetes seek advice from their GPs [general practitioners], registered dietitians and diabetes organizations.”

Source: Diabetics should put paleo on hold: expert | SBS News

I disagree with Prof. Andrikopoulos. We have adequate evidence to support a paleo-style diet for people with diabetes. I review it in 32 pages of my book. If you want to see the evidence right now, search this site for key words: O’Dea, Lindeberg, Jonsson, Frasetto, Ryberg, Mellberg, Boers, and Masharani.

If you seek diet advice from your general practitioner, endocrinologist, registered dietitian, and diabetes organizations, you’ll likely be told to eat too many carbohydrates, including processed man-made foods, which will wreck your glycemic control. The drug companies and medical-industrial complex will benefit at your expense.

Steve Parker, M.D.

No degludec up in here!

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Olive Oil Helps Control After-Meal Blood Blood Sugars

Steve Parker MD, Advanced Mediterranean DIet

Naturally low-carb Caprese salad: non-paleo mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, basil, extra virgin olive oil

Italian researchers found that extra-virgin olive oil taken with meals helps to reduce blood sugar elevations after meals in type 1 diabetics. This may help explain the lower observed incidence of diabetes seen in those eating a traditional Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil.

Before going further into the weeds, remember that glycemic index refers to how high and quickly a particular food elevates blood sugar. High-glycemic index foods raise blood sugar quicker and higher compared to low-glycemic index foods.

The study at hand is a small one: 18 patients. They were given both high- and low-glycemic meals with varying amounts and types of fat. Meals were either low-fat, high in saturated fat (from butter), or high in monounsaturated fat from olive oil. Meals that were high-glycemic index resulted in lower after-meal glucose levels if the meal had high olive oil content, compared to low-fat and butter-rich meals.

If meals were low in glycemic index, blood sugar levels were about the same whether the diet was low-fat, high in saturated fat, or rich in olive oil.

I don’t know if results of this study apply to those with type 2 diabetes. Probably, but uncertain. (google it!)

Action Plan

If you have type 1 diabetes and plan on eating high on the glycemic index scale, reduce your blood sugar excursions by incorporating extra-virgin olive oil into your meals.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: No olive trees were killed to produce my book.

Reference: Bozzetto, Luigarda, et al. Extra-virgin olive oil reduces glycemic response to a high-glycemic index meal in patients with type 1 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial. Diabetes Care, online before print, February 9, 2016. doi: 10.2337/dc15-2189

 

Moderately Low-Carb Diet Beats Calorie-Restricted “Balanced” Diet in Overweight Japanese Type 2 Diabetes

This meal is low-carb, and probably low-calorie too

This meal is both low-carb and low-calorie

A randomized controlled clinical trial found superior results in diabetes with a low-carb diet, judging from weight loss and hemoglobin A1c.

I don’t know how many carbs the typical Japanese person eats in a day. In the U.S., it’s 250-300 grams. Here’s how the study at hand was done:

“This prospective, randomized, open-label, comparative study included 66 T2DM patients with HbA1c >7.5% even after receiving repeated education programs on Calorie-Restricted Dieting (CRD). They were randomly allocated to either the 130g/day Low-Carb Diet (LCD) group (n = 33) or CRD group (n = 33). Patients received personal nutrition education of CRD or LCD for 30 min at baseline, 1, 2, 4, and 6 months. Patients of the CRD group were advised to maintain the intake of calories and balance of macronutrients (28× ideal body weight calories per day). [If I understand correctly, a 170-lb (77.2 kg) person would be recommended to eat 2160 calories/day.] Patients of the LCD group were advised to maintain the intake of 130 g/day carbohydrate without other specific restrictions. Several parameters were assessed at baseline and 6 months after each intervention. The primary endpoint was a change in HbA1c level from baseline to the end of the study.

At baseline, body mass index (BMI) and HbA1c were 26.5 and 8.3, and 26.7 kg/m2 and 8.0%, in the CRD and LCD, respectively. At the end of the study, HbA1c decreased by −0.65% in the LCD group, compared with 0.00% in the CRD group (p < 0.01). Also, the decrease in BMI in the LCD group [−0.58 kg/m2] exceeded that observed in the CRD group (p = 0.03).

Conclusions: Our study demonstrated that 6-month 130 g/day LCD reduced HbA1c and BMI in poorly controlled Japanese patients with type 2 diabetes. LCD is a potentially useful nutrition therapy for Japanese patients who cannot adhere to CRD.”

Source: A randomized controlled trial of 130 g/day low-carbohydrate diet in type 2 diabetes with poor glycemic control – Clinical Nutrition

The calorie-restricted diet did nothing for these folks in terms of glycemic  control.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: In case you’re wondering, the Paleobetic Diet reduces digestible carbs to 45-80 grams/day.

 

What About the Newcastle Diet?

Some of these are Newcastle-compliant

Some of these are Newcastle-compliant

In 2011, Prof. Roy Taylor and colleagues found they could “reverse” type 2 diabetes with a very low-calorie diet. How low? 600–800 per day for eight weeks. His program—often called the Newcastle diet—has achieved some prominence in the United Kingdom but I don’t hear about it much over here across the pond. The clinical study in support of the program was very small—only 11 participants: 9 men and 2 women (with an average BMI of 33.6). I’m sure hundreds, if not thousands, have tried it since then.

I’m not endorsing or recommending the Newcastle diet at this time. I haven’t studied it in detail. It probably requires careful medical and dietitian supervision. Prof. Taylor says:

Our research subjects found the diet challenging to stick to. Motivated people were selected, and support from the team was given frequently. Support from the families of the research volunteers was very important in helping them comply with the diet. Hunger was not a particular problem after the first few days, but the complete change in social activities (not going to the pub, not joining in the family meals etc.) was a challenge over the eight weeks.

The purpose of this post is simply to collect a few informational links for my own records and for my readers who want to know more.

Links:

The original program utilizes Optifast liquid meals (600 calories/day) plus vegetables for another 200 calories. Prof. Taylor notes that products equivalent to Optifast may be more readily available and just as effective, but I don’t know what those are. Ensure? Carnation Instant Breakfast? Boost? Jevity?

Very low calorie diets like this are often referred to as starvation diets or crash diets. Starvation diets can cause weakness and easy fatigue, headaches, dizziness, hair loss, gallstones, electrolyte (blood mineral) disturbances, palpitations, nutritional deficiencies, skin problems, gout, kidney failure, or worse.

Even if successful, transitioning away from the eight-week Newcastle diet better be done carefully or the diabetes will return. Prevention of weight regain is harder than losing weight.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Is Insulin Making You Hungry All the Time?

So easy to over-eat!

So easy to over-eat! Is it the insulin release?

No, insulin probably isn’t the cause of constant hunger, according to Dr. Stephan Guyenet. Dr. G gives 11 points of evidence in support of his conclusion. Read them for yourself. Here are a few:

  • multiple brain-based mechanisms (including non-insulin hormones and neurotransmitters) probably have more influence on hunger than do the pure effect of insulin
  • weight loss reduces insulin levels, yet it gets harder to lose excess weight the more you lose
  • at least one clinical study (in 1996) in young healthy people found that foods with higher insulin responses were linked to greater satiety, not greater hunger
  • billions of people around the world eat high-carb diets yet remain thin

An oft-cited explanation for the success of low-carbohydrate diets involves insulin, specifically the lower insulin levels and reduced insulin resistance seen in low-carb dieters. They often report less trouble with hunger than other dieters.

Here’s the theory. When we eat carbohydrates, the pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream to keep blood sugar levels from rising too high as we digest the carbohydrates. Insulin drives the bloodstream sugar (glucose) into cells to be used as energy or stored as fat or glycogen. High doses of refined sugars and starches over-stimulate the production of insulin, so blood sugar falls too much, over-shootinging the mark, leading to hypoglycemia, an undeniably strong appetite stimulant. So you go back for more carbohydrate to relieve the hunger induced by low blood sugar. That leads to overeating and weight gain.

Read Dr. Guyenet’s post for reasons why he thinks this explanation of constant or recurring bothersome hunger is wrong or too simplistic. I agree with him.

The insulin-hypoglycemia-hunger theory may indeed be at play in a few folks. Twenty years ago, it was popular to call this “reactive hypoglycemia.” For unclear reasons, I don’t see it that often now. It was always hard to document that hypoglycemia unless it appeared on a glucose tolerance test.

Regardless of the underlying explanation, low-carb diets undoubtedly are very effective in many folks. And low-carbing is what I always recommend to my patients with carbohydrate intolerance: diabetics and prediabetics.

Steve Parker, M.D.

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One Man’s N=1 Experiment Comparing Lower- Versus Moderate-Carb Diet For His Diabetes

Use the search box to find the recipe for this low-carb avocado chicken soup

Use the search box to find the recipe for this low-carb avocado chicken soup

Read his amazingly detailed post at Diatribe. Adam, who has type 1 diabetes, figured out during his college days that eating no more that 30 grams of carbs at a time was “a complete gamechanger” for improving his blood sugars. He experimented on himself to see if there was a difference between his usual lower-carb diet (146 grams/day) versus 313 grams/day.

A quote:

To my utter surprise, both diets resulted in the same average glucose and estimated A1c. But there were major tradeoffs:

The higher-carb, whole-grain diet caused four times as much hypoglycemia, an extra 72 minutes per day spent high, and required 34% more insulin. (A less healthy high-carb diet would have been far worse.)

Doubling my daily carbs also added much more effort and produced far more feelings of exhaustion and diabetes failure. It was not fun at all, and the added roller coaster, or glycemic variation, from all the extra carbs made it more dangerous.

See more at: http://diatribe.org/low-carb-vs-high-carb-my-surprising-24-day-diabetes-diet-battle#sthash.pZOgCWVl.dpuf

I think the lower-carb approach is healthier over the long run. Check with your own healthcare provider before making any drastic change in your diabetic diet.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Paleobetic Diet-FrontCover_300dpi_RGB_5.5x8.5

Long-Term T2 Diabetes Diet Trial: Low-Carb Edges Out High-Carb Eating

Paleo-compliant low-carb meal. I almost used this for my Paleobetic Diet book cover.

Paleo-compliant low-carb meal. I almost used this for my Paleobetic Diet book cover.

This is an important report because most diet studies last much less than one year. Details are in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Study participants were 115 obese (BMI 35) type 2 diabetics with hemoglobin A1c averaging 7.3%. Average age was 58. So pretty typical patients, although perhaps better controlled than average.

They were randomized to follow for 52 weeks either a very low-carbohydrate or a high-carbohydrate “low-fat” diet. Both diets were designed to by hypocaloric, meaning that they provided fewer calories than the patients were eating at baseline, presumably with a goal of weight loss. The article abstract implies the diets overall each provided the same number of calories. They probably adjusted the calories for each patient individually. (I haven’t seen the full text of the article.) Participants were also enrolled in a serious exercise program: 60 minutes of aerobic and resistance training thrice weekly.

Kayaking is an aerobic exercise if done seriously

Kayaking is an aerobic exercise if done seriously

The very low-carb diet (LC diet) provided 14% of total calories as carbohydrate (under 50 grams/day). The high-carb diet (HC diet) provided 53% of total calories as carbohydrate and 30% of calories as fat. The typical Western diet has about 35% of calories from fat.

Both groups lost weight, about 10 kg (22 lb) on average. Hemoglobin A1c, a reflection of glucose control over the previous three months, dropped about 1% (absolute reduction) in both groups.

Compared to the HC diet group, the LC dieters were able to reduce more diabetes medications, lower their triglycerides more, and increase their HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol”). These triglyceride and HDL changes would tend to protect against heart disease.

SO WHAT?

You can lose weight and improve blood sugar control with reduced-calorie diets—whether very low-carb or high-carb—combined with an exercise program. No surprise there.

I’m surprised that the low-carb group didn’t lose more weight. I suspect after two months of dieting, the low-carbers started drifting back to their usual diet which likely was similar to the high-carb diet. Numerous studies show superior weight loss with low-carb eating, but those studies are usually 12 weeks or less in duration.

diabetic diet, low-carb diet, paleobetic diet

Low-Carb Brian Burger and Bacon Brussels Sprouts (in the Paleobetic Diet)

The low-carb diet improved improved lipid levels that might reduce risk of future heart disease, and allowed reduction of diabetes drug use. Given that we don’t know the long-term side effects of many of our drugs, that’s good.

If I have a chance to review the full text of the paper, I’ll report back here.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Jeannie Tay, et al. Comparison of low- and high-carbohydrate diets for type 2 diabetes management: a randomized trial. First published July 29, 2015, doi: 10.3945/​ajcn.115.112581    Am J Clin Nutr