Category Archives: Diabetic Diet

Ketogenic and Very Low-Carb Diet Effective for T2 Diabetes for at Least Two Years

This Avocado Chicken soup is very low-carb. Use the search box to find the recipe.

It’s well-established that very low-carb and ketogenic diets over the short-term usually do a good job for folks with type 2 diabetes: better blood sugar levels, fewer diabetes drugs needed, improved lipids, lower blood pressure, etc. Many people—from patients to dietitians to physicians—question whether the diet and associated improvements can be sustained for more than a few months. The study at hand looked at results two years out, and found definite clinical benefit and sustainability.

First, a quick point to get out of the way. In the U.S., HgbA1c is reported as a percentage. But other countries often report HgbA1c in mmol/mol. It’s not easy to convert one to the other accurately, so when you see values in mmol/mol below, be aware they’re only my approximations, not the researchers’.

Here’s how the researchers did their study, published in the summer of 2019.

Scientific Method

262 adults with type 2 diabetes (average age 54) were enrolled in the intervention group, called CCI (digitally-monitored continuous care intervention via a web-based app). 87 were assigned to “usual care.” For all participants at baseline, body mass index averaged 37-40, HgbA1c averaged 7.6% (60 mmol/mol), and they had diabetes for an average of eight years. The CCI group monitored beta-hydroxybutyrate (a ketone) levels, glucoses, body weight, etc, and uploaded results via the web-based app. The app also facilitated an online peer community for social support. For those who preferred in-person education (about half of the total), clinic-based group meetings were held weekly for 12 weeks, bi-weekly for 12 weeks, monthly for six months, and then quarterly in the second year. Continuous Care Intervention included individual support with telemedicine, customized nutritional guidance (emphasis on sustained nutritional ketosis), and health coaching.

The 87 Usual Care folks were recruited from the same geographic area and healthcare system. The received care from their primary care physician or endocrinologist and were counseled by a dietitian (ADA recommendations) as part of their diabetes education. Medical care was not modified for the study. This group had less intense clinical measurements than the CCI cohort.

Of the 262 participants who started with the CCI group, 218 remained after one year. So 44 drop-outs. Of these 262 pioneers, 194 remained for the entire second year (so 24 more drop-outs). If those drop-out numbers seem high to you, be aware that they are NOT. Even the Usual Care group of 87 had 19 drop-outs over the two years.

So what happened?

Reductions from baseline to two years in the CCI group included: fasting insulin, weight (down about 10% or 11.9 kg), blood pressure (systolic and diastolic), HgbA1c, and triglycerides. Those are all going in the right direction.

Other findings for the CCI group: HDL-cholesterol (“good cholesterol”) went up. Excluding metformin, the use of diabetes control drugs in the CCI group dropped from 56% of participants to 27%. Some dietitians fear the ketogenic diets are bad for bones, causing calcium to leak out of bones, weakening them since calcium is the main mineral in bones. But spine bone mineral density in the CCI group was unchanged over the two years.

The “usual care” group had no changes in those measurements or diabetes medication use.

Now, to understand some of the investigators results, you need to know their definitions. Diabetes remission = glycemic control without medication use. Partial remission is “sub-diabetic hyperglycemia of at least 1 year duration, HgbA1c level between 5.7-6.5% (39 to 48 mmol/mol), without any medications (two HbgA1c measurements).” Complete remission is “normoglycemia of at least 1 year duration, HgbA1c below 5.7% [39 mmol/mol], without any medications (two HgbA1c measurements).” Diabetes reversal per Supplementary Table 2: Sub-diabetic hyperglycemia and normoglycemia (HgbA1c below 6.5% or 48 mmol/mol), without medications except metformin.

The CCI group had resolution of diabetes (partial or complete remission in 18%, reversal in 53%), which was not seen in the usual care group. Complete remission was achieved in 17 (6.7%) of the CCI group. HgbA1c in the CCI group at two years dropped from average of 7.6% (60 mmol/mol)  to 6.7% (50 mmol/mol).

Conquer Diabetes and Prediabetes

Metformin is the most-recommended drug for type 2 diabetes

“CCI diabetes reversal exceeds remission as prescriptions for metformin were usually continued given its role in preventing disease progression, preserving beta-cell function and in the treatment of pre-diabetes per guidelines.”

The average dose of insulin in CCI folks who were using insulin at baseline decreased by 81% at two years. (Have you noticed the price of insulin lately?)

Beta-hydroxybutyrate is a ketone, and at a certain level in the blood, indicates the presence of ketosis on a ketogenic diet. “The 2 year beta-hydroxybutryate (BHB) increase above baseline demonstrated sustained dietary modification.”  “…the encouraged range of nutritional ketosis (> or = 0.5 mM) was observed in only a minority (14.1%) of participants at 2 years. On average, patient-measured BHB was > or = 0.5mM for 32.8% of measurement over the 2 years.”

Bottom Line

In summary, the CCI group—eating ketogenic and/or very low-carb—showed sustained beneficial effects even two years after start of the study. I suspect the Virta app, clinic-based group meetings, and individual support and coaching contributed significantly to the participants’ success.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: By the way, many of the study authors are affiliated with Virta Health Corp., which I assume is a for-profit company. Virta provided funding for the study. Could that funding have unduly influenced the results? It’s always possible but I have no evidence that it did. If not already available, I expect a commercial version of the program will be within 12–24 months.

Reference: Athinarayanan, S.J., et al (including Sarah Hallberg, Jeff Volek, and Stephen Phinney). Long-Term Effects of a Novel Continuous Remote Care Intervention Including Nutritional Ketosis for the Management of Type 2 Diabetes: A 2-year Non-randomized Clinical Trial. Frontiers in Endocrinology, Vol. 10, article 348, June 19, 2019.

Click pic to purchase book at Amazon.com. E-book versions available at Smashwords.com.

 

Why Can’t You Score a Great Hemoglobin A1c?

Is this device from 20 years ago?

The good folks over at Diabetes Daily conducted a survey of people with diabetes to find out what they were doing to get good HgbA1c levels. HgbA1c is a measure of average blood sugar levels over the prior three months. Lower HgbA1c levels, generally speaking, are linked to fewer diabetes complications. Prevention is always better than treatment. If you run across someone succeeding at anything, wouldn’t you want to know how they do it, assuming it’s a goal you share?  I recommend the entire report to you. An excerpt:

Type 2 Diabetes

Those in the lower A1c bracket (<6.5%) are significantly more likely than those with a higher A1c (>8%) to:

  • Eat a very low-carbohydrate diet (<40 g per day): 32% vs. 13%
  • Eat a ketogenic diet (<20 g per day): 13% vs. 0%
  • Not vary their daily carbohydrate intake: 16% vs. 29%
  • Eat a low-carbohydrate lunch (<20 g) on a regular basis: 50% vs. 28%
  • Use an insulin pump: 10% vs. 3%
  • Vary the timing of their meal-time insulin: 53% vs. 40%
  • Exercise: Daily: 14% vs 8%. Exercise 4-6 times per week: 20% vs 8%.Exercise less than once per week: 51% vs 73%
  • Feel very confident about their diabetes management skills: 69% vs. 26%
  • Feel very optimistic about their long-term health: 58% vs. 30%
  • Feel that diabetes doesn’t greatly interfere with their daily life: 56% vs. 19%
  • Report a high degree of socioemotional support related to diabetes: 59% vs. 46%

Type 1 Diabetes

Those in the lower A1c bracket (<6.5%) are significantly more likely than those with a higher A1c (>8%) to:

  • Eat a very low-carbohydrate diet (<40 g per day): 22% vs. 7%
  • Not vary their daily carbohydrate intake: 9% vs. 28%
  • Use an insulin pump: 71% vs. 53%
  • Wear a continuous glucose monitor (CGM): 76% vs. 60%
  • Have lower “high glucose alert” setting on their CGM
  • Have lower “low glucose alert” settings on their CGM
  • Not vary the timing of their meal-time insulin: 43% vs. 59%
  • Incorporate the protein content of their meal in determining their bolus insulin dose: 44% vs. 23
  • Eat similar food every day, at similar times, AND limit eating out at restaurants: 20% vs. 7%
  • Exercise: Daily: 21% vs 11%. Exercise 4-6 times per week: 24% vs 8%. Exercise less than once per week: 40% vs 66%
  • Feel very confident about their diabetes management skills: 82% vs. 39
  • Feel very optimistic about their long-term health: 59% vs. 42el that diabetes doesn’t greatly interfere with their daily life: 35% vs. 21%
  • Report a high degree of socioemotional support related to diabetes: 68% vs. 56%

Source: Habits of a Great A1c Survey Data Report – Diabetes Daily

Lead researcher was Maria Muccioli, PhD.

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: The Paleobetic Diet provides 40–80 g of digestible carbs daily. For 20–40 g/day, check out my Low-Carb Diabetic Mediterranean Diet.

Click pic to purchase book at Amazon.com. E-book versions available at Smashwords.com.

Is a Very Low-Carb Diet Reasonable for Type 1 Diabetes?

Exercise was natural when we were kids

Bottom line: A very low-carb diet worked well for children and adults with type 1 diabetes in this relatively small study.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To evaluate glycemic control among children and adults with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) who consume a very low-carbohydrate diet (VLCD).

METHODS:

We conducted an online survey of an international social media group for people with T1DM who follow a VLCD. Respondents included adults and parents of children with T1DM. We assessed current hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) (primary measure), change in HbA1c after the self-reported beginning of the VLCD, total daily insulin dose, and adverse events. We obtained confirmatory data from diabetes care providers and medical records.

RESULTS:

Of 316 respondents, 131 (42%) were parents of children with T1DM, and 57% were of female sex. Suggestive evidence of T1DM (based on a 3-tier scoring system in which researchers took into consideration age and weight at diagnosis, pancreatic autoimmunity, insulin requirement, and clinical presentation) was obtained for 273 (86%) respondents. The mean age at diagnosis was 16 ± 14 years, the duration of diabetes was 11 ± 13 years, and the time following a VLCD was 2.2 ± 3.9 years. Participants had a mean daily carbohydrate intake of 36 ± 15 g. Reported mean HbA1c was 5.67% ± 0.66%. Only 7 (2%) respondents reported diabetes-related hospitalizations in the past year, including 4 (1%) for ketoacidosis and 2 (1%) for hypoglycemia.

CONCLUSIONS:

Exceptional glycemic control of T1DM with low rates of adverse events was reported by a community of children and adults who consume a VLCD. The generalizability of these findings requires further studies, including high-quality randomized controlled trials.

Source: Management of Type 1 Diabetes With a Very Low-Carbohydrate Diet. – PubMed – NCBI

Steve Parker, M.D.

Click pic to purchase book at Amazon.com. E-book versions available at Smashwords.com.

The Low-Carb Diabetes Diet Revolution

Dr Maria Muccioli looks at low-carb diet approaches to type 1 diabetes in part 1 of a series at Diabetes Daily:

Not long ago, low-carbohydrate diets were considered to be on the fringes of medically-recommended strategies for diabetes control. Long regarded as a “fad diet” and with the health effects often called into question, many patients were routinely discouraged from attempting such an approach. However, in recent years, as more and more research demonstrated the potential benefits of a low-carbohydrate approach for people with diabetes and prediabetes, we have seen a rapid change in the nutritional guidelines and the professional recommendations for patients.

At the 79th American Diabetes Association (ADA) Scientific Sessions, we saw a symposium addressing the changes in the nutrition consensus report for adults with diabetes. Notably, a one-size-fits-all approach is no longer recommended, with experts suggesting now that various eating strategies and macronutrient distributions can work well for patients from a nutritional and glycemic control perspective. Moreover, low-carbohydrate diets were explicitly addressed as a relevant and effective strategy, that is “garnering more attention and support”, as per Dr. William S. Yancy, MD, MHS, who chaired the symposium titled “Providing Options – Using a Low-Carbohydrate or Very Low-Carbohydrate Diet with Adults with Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes or Prediabetes”. In this series, we explore the research and surrounding conversations regarding low-carbohydrate approaches for these distinct patient subgroups.

RTWT.

Source: The Low-Carb Diabetes Revolution (Part I): Type 1 Diabetes (ADA 2019) – Diabetes Daily

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: Many paleo diets are lower-carb than the standard American diet, and nearly all are low-glycemic index. The Paleobetic Diet provides approximately 60 grams/day of digestible carbohydrate.

Click pic to purchase book at Amazon in the U.S.

“Diabetes Care” Journal Considers the Paleo Diet for Diabetes

Caveman selfie

Concerning diet therapy for adults with diabetes and prediabetes, the Diabetes Care article has only this to say specifically about the paleo diet:

Research studies focused on a paleo eating pattern in adults with type 2 diabetes are small and few, ranging from 13–29 participants, lasting no longer than 3 months, and finding mixed effects on A1C, weight, and lipids.

Source: Nutrition Therapy for Adults With Diabetes or Prediabetes: A Consensus Report | Diabetes Care

For Overweight Type 2 Diabetics on a Paleo Diet, What’s the Effect of Adding an Exercise Program?

You better have good cardiovascular fitness if battling this big guy

Swedish researchers wondered if adding an exercise program to the Paleo diet in overweight type 2 diabetics would improve blood sugars or insulin sensitivity. Surprisingly, it did not. Exercise did, however, improve cardiovascular fitness.

How Was the Research Done?

Study participants in northern Sweden had been diagnosed with diabetes within the last 8 years and were either taking metformin (about 2/3 of them) or were using lifestyle modification (primarily diet, I presume) to treat diabetes. Folks on additional diabetes drugs were excluded. Baseline BMI was between 25 and 40, with and average of 31.5. (For example, a 5-ft, 9-inch person weighing 206 lb has a BMI of 30.4.) Men were 30–70 years old; women were post-menopausal or up to age 70 (no explanation given for excluding younger women). A third of participants were women. All were sedentary at the time of enrollment. Baseline hemoglobin A1c’s were between 6.5 and 10.8% (average of 7.2%).

Participants were divided into two groups (14 or 15 in each):

  1. Paleolithic diet (PD)
  2. Paleolithic diet plus thrice weekly supervised exercise (PD-EX)

The exercise regimen was included both aerobic and resistance training. Click the reference link below for details. It looks like a vigorous and reasonable program to me.

The study lasted for 12 weeks.

Here’s their Paleo diet: “…lean meat, fish, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, berries, and nuts. Cereals, dairy products, legumes, refined fats, refined sugars, and salt were excluded with the exception of canned fish and cold cuts like ham. The diet was consumed ad libitum [i.e., they could eat as much as they wanted], with restrictions of the following: eggs (1–2/day but a maximum of 5/week, potatoes (1 medium sized/day), dried fruit (130 g/day), and nuts (60 g/day). Rapeseed or olive oil (maximum 15 g/day) and small amounts of honey and vinegar were allowed as flavoring in cooking. Participants were instructed to drink mainly still water. Coffee and tea were restricted to a maximum of 300 g/day, and red wine to a maximum of one glass/week.

Who could stand to eat this junk for 12 weeks?

What Did They Find?

  • Both groups had and average individual weight loss of 7.1 kg (15.4 lb).
  • Both groups lost fat mass (measured by DEXA). The males in the PD-EX group retained more lean mass (e.g., muscle) than the other males.
  • Insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control improved in both groups to a comparable degree.
  • Hemoglobin A1c dropped about 1% in both groups.
  • VO2max (a measure of cardiovascular fitness) increased only in the PD-EX group, from 22.5 to 25.8 mL/kg/min.
  • Both groups dropped both systolic and diastolic blood pressures by 10%.
  • Both groups cut their leptin levels by about half. Leptin causes inflammation and is linked to cardiovascular events (heart attacks, strokes).

So What?

This study adds to the relatively few previous ones proving that the Paleo diet is effective in diabetes (overweight and obese type 2 diabetes in this case).

Fifteen-pound weight loss over 12 weeks while eating as much as you want is amazing.

The 1% absolute drop in Hemoglobin A1c is also quite welcome, comparable to or better than the reductions we see with many of our diabetes drugs. The authors remind us that “The UK prospective diabetes study (UKPDS) stated that a 1% unit improvement of HbA1c reduces microvascular complications by 37% and reduces diabetes-related death by 21%.”

The exercise program didn’t add to the weight loss. No surprise there. Unless you’re a contestant on The Biggest Loser show, 90% of weight loss depends on diet.

Unlike other studies, the exercisers didn’t see extra improvement in insulin resistance or blood sugar control. I can’t explain it.

The 10% blood pressure reduction by this Paleo diet could be quite beneficial for an individual with high blood pressure, allowing drug avoidance or dose reduction. Systolic pressure of 150 mmHg is often treated with drugs; a 10% reduction gets you down to 135, which doesn’t require drug therapy.

Note the 3.3 mL/kg/min increase in VO2max from this exercise program, which could be an 18% in all-cause mortality if sustained over time. The investigators cite a cohort study that found a VO2max increase of 1.44 mL/kg/min reduced overall mortality by 7.9%.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference: Otten, et al. (including Ryberg and Olsson). Effects of a Paleolithic diet with and without supervised exercise on fat mass, insulin sensitivity, and glycemic control: a randomized controlled trial in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews, 2017; 33(1): doi: 10.1002/dmrr.2828   Published online in 2016.

Short-Term Benefits of Low-Carb Compared to High-Carb Diet in Type 1 Diabetes

Shrimp Salad

A scientific study published 2017 compared a high-carb (at least 250 grams/day) to low-carb diet (50 grams or less) in 10 patients with type 1 diabetics. The low-carb diet yielded more time in the normal blood sugar range, less hypoglycemia, and less variability of glucose levels.

I assume the low-carb diet required less insulin, but I don’t know since I haven’t seen the full article. Let me know if you can confirm.

In case you’re wondering, the Paleobetic diet provides about 60 grams of carb daily.

Here’s the abstract:

The aim of the present study was to assess the effects of a high carbohydrate diet (HCD) vs a low carbohydrate diet (LCD) on glycaemic variables and cardiovascular risk markers in patients with type 1 diabetes. Ten patients (4 women, insulin pump-treated, median ± standard deviation [s.d.] age 48 ± 10 years, glycated haemoglobin [HbA1c] 53 ± 6 mmol/mol [7.0% ± 0.6%]) followed an isocaloric HCD (≥250 g/d) for 1 week and an isocaloric LCD (≤50 g/d) for 1 week in random order. After each week, we downloaded pump and sensor data and collected fasting blood and urine samples. Diet adherence was high (225 ± 30 vs 47 ± 10 g carbohydrates/d; P < .0001). Mean sensor glucose levels were similar in the two diets (7.3 ± 1.1 vs 7.4 ± 0.6 mmol/L; P = .99). The LCD resulted in more time with glucose values in the range of 3.9 to 10.0 mmol/L (83% ± 9% vs 72% ± 11%; P = .02), less time with values ≤3.9 mmol/L (3.3% ± 2.8% vs 8.0% ± 6.3%; P = .03), and less glucose variability (s.d. 1.9 ± 0.4 vs 2.6 ± 0.4 mmol/L; P = .02) than the HCD. Cardiovascular markers were unaffected, while fasting glucagon, ketone and free fatty acid levels were higher at end of the LCD week than the HCD week. In conclusion, the LCD resulted in more time in euglycaemia, less time in hypoglycaemia and less glucose variability than the HCD, without altering mean glucose levels.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Does a Low-Carb Vegetarian Diet Work for Diabetes?

Spaghetti squash with parsley, olive oil, snow peas, garlic, salt, pepper

Spaghetti squash with parsley, olive oil, snow peas, garlic, salt, pepper

It does for type 2 diabetic David Mendosa, who’s been doing it for three years. He shares some ideas on how to do it at the link below. From the intro:

About nine years ago, I started to eat only food low in carbohydrates that don’t have a high glycemic index.  I knew that this was the only proven way to bring my blood glucose level down where I wanted it to be without using drugs or supplements. My most recent A1C test showed that my level is 5.1 percent, well within the range considered normal.

While continuing to eat this way, about three years ago I added the further restriction of eating no meat, fish, or seafood. This was a substantial shift in what I was eating, and I made it mainly because I don’t want to be intentionally responsible for the death of animals or other sentient beings. Only later did I begin to realize its health benefits.

Source: How to Manage Your Diabetes with a Low-Carb Vegetarian Diet – Diabetes

David seems to adhere to the lacto-ovo strain of vegetarianism, rather than vegan or pesco-vegetarian. In other words, he’ll eat eggs and milk products but not fish. I suspect he eats under 40 grams/day of digestible carbohydrate.

Here are more of David’s ideas on implementation of a very low-carb vegetarian 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!

Front cover

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?