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Is Low-Carb Diet Beneficial For Patients With Type 1 Diabetes?

The authors say that any diet changes for type 1 diabetes patients must be made in consultation with their doctors.

Published
Diabetes
3 min read
A low-carb diet can help improve blood sugar levels in patients with type 1 diabetes, as per a new study.
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A low-carb diet can help improve blood sugar levels in patients with type 1 diabetes, as per a new study.

The study, which was led by Belinda Lennerz of Boston Children’s Hospital, suggests that restricting the intake of carbohydrates would help children with type 1 diabetes.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

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The Study

The participants of the study were type 1 diabetes patients from a Facebook community, TypeOneGrit. The members of this community followed a ‘very-low-carb diet’ as recommended by Dr. Bernstein in his book ‘Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution’.

Dr. Richard Bernstein is also a co-author on this study.

A total of 493 patients took the survey. Out of these, the responses of 316 patients were included in the study. The researchers positively diagnosed diabetes in 138 patients through examination of their previous medical health records and other tests. Of these 138 patients, 42% were children.

These participants followed a diet that limited their average daily carbohydrate intake to 36 grams. The hemoglobin A1C values, reported by them, were in the normal range, at 5.6%. 

Diabetic patients have an A1C level of above 8 percent.

The Result

Concerns about low-carb diet in type 1 diabetes include sudden drop in blood sugar levels, high risk of hypoglycemia.
Concerns about low-carb diet in type 1 diabetes include sudden drop in blood sugar levels, high risk of hypoglycemia.
(Photo: iStockphoto)
The results showed that patients who followed a low-carb diet required lower doses of insulin. Certain patients also had good levels of insulin sensitivity and cardiometabolic health.

Concerns about low-carb diet in type 1 diabetes include sudden drop in blood sugar levels, high risk of hypoglycemia.

While the study reported low rates of hospitalisation for diabetic and hypoglycemia patients, the authors still feel that this approach to low-carb diets in type 1 diabetes requires further study and research.

The authors of the study strongly suggest that any diet changes for type 1 diabetes patients must be made in consultation with their doctors.

But can the results of this study be implemented in India?

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Can Patients in India Follow a Low-Carb Diet?

Classic Indian diet (comprising daal, roti, rice etc.) is rich in carbohydrates.
Classic Indian diet (comprising daal, roti, rice etc.) is rich in carbohydrates.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Dr. S K Wangnoo, Senior Consultant Endocrinologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi, feels that the results of this study cannot be implemented on a wide scale, in India.

He explains that classic Indian diet (comprising daal, roti, rice etc.) is rich in carbohydrates. Hence it will be very difficult to adhere to such a low-carb diet, especially for patients of type 1 diabetes.

Carbohydrates form an essential part of a child’s diet in the growing years. So restricting the quantity of carbs might not be a good idea . And type 1 diabetes is also diagnosed at a very early age. Managing carbohydrates and planning diets so meticulously for such young children might be difficult. 
Dr. S K Wangnoo, Senior Consultant Endocrinologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi

He feels carbohydrate management is the key for managing type 1 diabetes. The diet composition can be regulated in a way that important nutrients aren’t missed.

The amount of carbs consumed decides the insulin intake in type 1 diabetes patients. So 40%-50% of the 1800 daily calories can come from carbohydrates. The remaining 20% can come from proteins and 30% from unsaturated fats.  
Dr. S K Wangnoo, Senior Consultant Endocrinologist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi

(With inputs from media reports.)

(For more news on diabetes, follow FIT.)

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