Blood sugar issues are a major concern in the US. The CDC estimates that 34.2 million Americans (just over one in 10) currently have diabetes, while 88 million (about one in three) have prediabetes. Besides genetics, lifestyle factors can greatly affect our diabetes risk, and keeping a healthy diet is touted as one of the best ways to manage blood sugar. Most recently, research revealed that a low-carb diet could even lead to remission from diabetes.
Remission from Diabetes on a Low-Carb Diet
You’ve probably heard that a high-carb diet is the enemy of blood-sugar conditions. This is because when we eat excess carbs, they get absorbed into the bloodstream as glucose, which is a form of sugar. Glucose in the blood elevates blood sugar levels, and for this reason, low-carb diets have long been believed to be the best option for those trying to manage their blood sugar. However, a recent study suggests that adopting a low-carb diet could even lead to remission of type 2 diabetes.
The recent review of studies published in the journal BMJ analyzed data from 23 randomized controlled trials that included more than 1,300 participants with type 2 diabetes. Most of the studies compared a low-carb or very low-carb diet — defined as less than 26 or 10 percent of one’s daily calories from carbs — with low-fat diets. According to the findings, the participants who ate a low-carb diet for six months achieved higher rates of remission than those who ate low-fat diets or made other dietary changes.
Interestingly, the analysis also found that the benefits of the low carb diet like weight loss, improved body fat, and reduced medication use, seemed to diminish after 12 months. The researchers think this could be because the patients didn’t stick to their diets over time, but more research needs to be done to explore long-term adherence to the diet and its effects.
Reducing Carbs and Adding Nutrients
All in all, an overwhelming body of research supports the idea that limiting carbohydrates, especially refined carbs like white bread, white pasta, pastries, snacks, and breakfast cereals, is a great way to manage blood sugar in the short term and long term.
Other research also suggests that adding in important nutrients like fiber are essential to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that fiber slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, leading to more stable levels and improved outcomes in patients with diabetes. Not only that, but fiber is also a nutrient that has shown to increase satiety, lower cholesterol, and improve digestion, gut health, and immunity. To increase fiber in your diet, add in foods like avocados, beans and lentils, berries, and broccoli.
And of course, other lifestyle factors like your sleep and activity levels can also influence your blood sugar levels and diabetes risk. Be sure that you’re prioritizing getting a good night’s rest to the best of your ability, and that you’re keeping active. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests that adults with type 2 diabetes should aim for at least two and a half hours of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity per week. Examples include brisk walking, water aerobics, swimming, or jogging.
By combining all the right habits, healthier blood sugar, and even remission from diabetes could be possible. As always, talk to your doctor about any diet and lifestyle changes you’re making.
Here’s to better health!