CAN THE KETOGENIC DIET REVERSE DIABETES SYMPTOMS?
Diabetes is a disease that affects over 30 million Americans today. That’s almost 10% of its entire population, showing the urgency with which the problem needs to be tackled.
There is wide agreement amongst medical professionals that exercise and healthy diet is the quickest way to prevent or even reverse diabetes. But it is now becoming clear that specifically the ketogenic diet helps to ease the symptoms of diabetes. In some cases, this high-fat, low-carb diet can eradicate the disease completely.
What is Diabetes?
This disease is caused by having extremely high levels of blood sugar. Glucose (our main source of energy) in our blood is made by breaking down carbohydrates. Insulin is a hormone that transports this glucose to our cells so it can be utilized for energy.
If the insulin is inhibited in anyway then excess sugar builds up in your bloodstream as it cannot be transported to your cells to be used for energy. This build-up of sugar in the blood, if left untreated, leads to the condition known as diabetes.
WHAT ARE THE TWO TYPES OF DIABETES?
Type 1 – This occurs when your immune system destroys the cells in your pancreas responsible for creating insulin. This occurs due to mainly genetic and environmental factors. This leaves individuals physically incapable of producing insulin and so they must inject it every day to continue to function. This type of diabetes is rare, only accounting for 5% of all cases in the US. (Source)
Type 2 – This is the most common form of the disease accounting for the remaining 95% of cases (Source). In this strain, the pancreas is still capable of producing insulin. However, the insulin produced is either not enough to meet the needs of your body or the cells have become resistant to it. This is usually a direct result of a poor diet and a lack of exercise.
Ketogenic Diet and Type 2 Diabetes
Since the percentage of type 1 diabetes cases is so low, we are going to focus on the benefits of the ketogenic diet and the positive effects that have been seen on sufferers of type 2 diabetes.
As explained above, the condition is caused by excess blood sugar, so in order to ease or even reverse symptoms, we need to reduce those levels of blood sugar. That’s where the ketogenic diet comes in.
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet. By restricting the amount of carbohydrates entering the body we are lowering the amount of blood sugar (glucose) that will be produced. This allows the amount of required insulin to deliver energy to our cells drop dramatically, since there are much less carbohydrates to break down.
KETOSIS AND DIABETES
You may be wondering where we get our energy from if we restrict our carbohydrate intake. Individuals on the ketogenic diet, by eating high amounts of fat and low amounts of carbs, switch the energy source the body uses to produce energy.
Instead of using glucose from sugars, the body begins to break down fats and produce what are known as ketones, and use them to deliver energy to the cells in its place. When the body enters this phase it is known as “ketosis”.
This is beneficial for people who suffer with type 2 diabetes because it drastically lowers the blood sugar and required insulin levels and the body is primarily using fat as its energy source. What is more, this diet helps people burn the excess fat that helped cause the diabetes in the first place. Weight loss is a very common (positive) side effect of this diet.
STUDIES SHOW BENEFITS OF KETOGENIC DIET ON DIABETICS
Studies on ketogenic diets as a cure for diabetes symptoms have shown promising results. One study demonstrated that the participants’ low-carb diet actually improved blood glucose levels and aided weight loss. By the end of the 10-week study, over 60% of the 262 diabetics lowered their dosage of diabetes medication, or stopped taking it altogether (Source).
Another found that, after studying 83 diabetics, a ketogenic diet helped to achieve a 34% decrease in insulin levels. What perhaps was even more interesting was that even though the control group lost the same amount of body fat on a restricted higher carb diet (50% of all foods eaten) this group actually saw their insulin level increase by 15% (Source).
This evidence demonstrates that a high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet can achieve everything required to relieve and even reverse type 2 diabetes. The diet increases weight loss, reduces the amount of blood glucose and required insulin production, and protects the pancreas by lowering the amount of pancreatic fat.
If you suffer from diabetes it might be time to consider the benefits of trying a ketogenic diet. However, as is the case before starting any diet, consult with your physician before making any drastic changes to your nutritional intake.