Results from a recent study reveal the need for new dietary guidelines to help control diabetes. The current low-fat diets that have been recommended for years are clearly not able to control or even slow the rise of diabetes and the sometimes devastating effects of complications that result from the disease.
Low Carb Diets Address Diabetes Directly
It seems unreasonable to treat a disease that is so clearly connected to the intake of carbohydrates with another avenue: sugar. "Diabetes is a disease of carbohydrate intolerance. Reducing carbohydrates is the obvious treatment,” said Barbara Gower, Ph.D., professor and vice chair for research in the UAB Department of Nutrition Sciences. Gower and the 25 other physicians and nutrition experts that contributed to the study don’t understand why the government and private health agencies have been resisting a low-carb diet as a form of treatment for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
The study suggests that dietary carbohydrate restriction decreases blood glucose levels more than anything else, and individuals don’t have to lose weight in order to reap these benefits. And yet, the study also claims that a low-carb diet is the best way for individuals to lose weight. The researchers also suggest that type 2 diabetics eating a low-carb diet can reduce or even eliminate the need for medication, and type 1 diabetics require less insulin when eating fewer carbs.
Research Supports a Low Carb Diet for Diabetics
From this study and other research, we see that a low-carb diet may be the best approach to tackling type 2 diabetes—and sometimes type 1. “For many people with type 2 diabetes, low carbohydrates are a real cure,” Gower adds. We don’t have to stick with the notion that a low-fat diet is beneficial just because it’s been the status quo for so long. Richard David Feinman, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry at SUNY Downstate Medical Center stated that “The low-fat paradigm, which held things back, is virtually dead as a major biological idea. Diabetes is too serious a disease for us to try to save face by holding onto ideas that fail."
There are over 29 million people living with diabetes in the United States alone, according to the American Diabetes Association. That means that it is likely that everyone knows at least one person living with diabetes, and many of those people could be family members or friends. Because of this large population of diabetics—and only getting larger—people should gain an understanding of the needs of those living with diabetes. The diabetic population should educate themselves on the newest research, such as this low-carb diet study, and then help the lay population understand the current findings.
Diabetes education is incredibly important both for those living with diabetes and for those that may be at risk of developing diabetes. If the recommendations and education that is being provided is not accurate or effective in treating diabetes, the diabetes epidemic will only grow. As Feinman illustrates, diabetes is a very serious disease and is not to be dealt with lightly. Change needs to start now. Proper treatment and education in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes is the only way to control this disease that threatens the quality of life for ourselves and our loved ones.