Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects millions of individuals worldwide.
Diabetes affects around 400 million people globally (1).
Although diabetes is a difficult disease, keeping blood sugar levels stable can significantly minimize the risk of complications (2, 3Trusted Source).
Following a low carb diet is one strategy to improve blood sugar levels.
This article provides a comprehensive discussion of very low carb diets for diabetes management.
What exactly is diabetes, and how does diet play a role in it?
Diabetes causes the body to be unable to metabolize carbs adequately.
When you ingest carbohydrates, they are normally broken down into little units of glucose, which end up as blood sugar.
When blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas responds by manufacturing the insulin hormone. This hormone promotes the entry of blood sugar into cells.
Blood sugar levels in people who do not have diabetes remain within a restricted range throughout the day. This mechanism, however, does not work the same way for people who have diabetes.
This is a major issue since both too high and too low blood sugar levels can be dangerous.
Diabetes is classified into numerous categories, the most common of which are type 1 and type 2 diabetes. These problems can strike at any age.
An autoimmune process kills the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas in type 1 diabetes. Diabetes patients take insulin multiple times each day to guarantee that glucose enters cells and remains at a healthy level in the bloodstream (4Trusted Source).
In type 2 diabetes, the beta cells initially generate enough insulin, but the body’s cells become resistant to its effect, resulting in excessive blood sugar. To compensate, the pancreas generates more insulin in an attempt to lower blood sugar levels.
Beta cells gradually lose their ability to produce adequate insulin (5).
Carbohydrates have the highest impact on blood sugar regulation among the three macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates, and fat. This is because the body converts them to glucose.
When persons with diabetes consume a lot of carbohydrates, they may need to take a lot of insulin, medicine, or both.
Can very low carbohydrate diets help with diabetes management?
Many research back up low carb diets for diabetic treatment (6, 7, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source, 11).
In fact, prior to the discovery of insulin in 1921, very low carbohydrate diets were considered standard treatment for diabetics (12Trusted Source).
Furthermore, when people stick to low carb diets, they appear to work well in the long run.
In one study, participants with type 2 diabetes followed a low carb diet for six months. If patients followed the diet, their diabetes remained well managed more than three years later (13Trusted Source).
Similarly, persons with type 1 diabetes who followed a carbohydrate-restricted diet observed a significant improvement in blood sugar levels over a 4-year period (14Trusted Source).