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Keto and Diabetes

Obesity and type 2 diabetes are two of the biggest health challenges in the world today, particularly here in the West.

Nearly 5 million people in the UK are thought to have diabetes, of which 90% have been diagnosed with type 2. A further 13.6 million are at risk because of lifestyle habits such as eating the wrong food, exercising too little and being overweight.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is an increasingly common health condition where the level of glucose or sugar in the blood becomes too high. This comes down to something called insulin resistance which means your body is no longer able to efficiently break down sugar, something which can put you at risk of hyperglycaemia.

One of the most common symptoms of early type 2 diabetes is reduced circulation which can cause problems for the heart, eyes and feet. While there is no cure, diabetes can often be put into remission by a mixture of medication and lifestyle changes. The latter includes switching to a healthier diet and doing something to reduce insulin resistance.

Is the Keto Diet Good for Diabetics?

The keto diet has two properties that may help people who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. First, it helps you lose weight and there’s enough research now to show that this is a critical part of recovery and going into remission. Second, it can help reduce insulin resistance, especially when it is combined with a practice such as intermittent fasting.

A study in 2020 found that a ketogenic diet was superior in the way that it controlled certain important aspects of diabetes physiology. It provides glycaemic control and reduces the level of harmful lipids in the blood.

Changing diet and losing weight is essential to managing type 2 diabetes and there are several approaches that healthcare providers can offer. This includes putting a patient on the keto diet. Another popular option is the Mediterranean diet. Both have proved effective in controlling diabetes and facilitating weight loss.

A lot will depend on the individual, of course. The keto diet can be restrictive in what can be consumed. There may be additional health problems such as heart disease which means the high saturated fat content may not be suitable. For these individuals, the Mediterranean diet may be a lot easier because it does not restrict as much and includes healthy fats such as olive oil and oily fish.

The keto diet can produce almost immediate results with weight loss which has benefits over the Mediterranean diet, however. Introducing intermittent fasting is also an option for patients. Fasting has several advantages not least that it can change our relationship with food and help control cravings for unhealthy choices, particularly those high in sugar. It’s also relatively easy to introduce as it simply involves not eating. There’s also some evidence that regular fasting can help reset insulin sensitivity in patients with diabetes.

While diet is an important lifestyle change and GPs encourage patients with diabetes to eat more healthily, the jury is still out with keto in the UK. One GP, Dr David Unwin, in Southport was in the news recently for having put his 100th patient in remission from type 2 diabetes by moving them onto a low-carb diet. Not only has this improved the health of his patients but it has also saved the practice thousands in traditional diabetes medications. 

The key to using a ketogenic diet for a serious condition like type 2 diabetes is understanding what it can achieve and doing your research. Working with a nutritionist or GP is also important, especially if you have other underlying conditions such as heart disease.

If you're diabetic and wondering how you can get started on a low-carb diet yourself, at No Guilt Bakes, we have low-carb treats, snacks and breakfast options to make the journey a little easier. Check out some of our low-carb, zero added sugar chocolate options here.

Want to know more about intermittent fasting? Check out our blog post which will be available on February 12.

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