Does Keto Diet Help Type 2 Diabetes?

India is home to more than 77 million diabetics and it is estimated that about one in six diabetics in the world is an Indian. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of health conditions including heart diseases, nerve damage, high blood pressure, kidney failure, blindness, lower limb amputation, skin conditions, hearing impairment, etc. Cases of type 2 diabetes in developing countries are also closely associated with the obesity epidemic.

However, diabetes is a lifestyle disease and even though there isn't a cure for the condition yet, it is possible for people to reverse it through some lifestyle changes. Diabetes is a metabolic disease characterized by elevated levels of blood sugar levels due to defects in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both.

Per recent research, a sedentary lifestyle and high abdominal fat have increased the risk of type 2 diabetes among Indians at a younger age. But lifestyle modifications can counteract complications and premature aging in people with type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes being a condition that impacts a person’s blood sugar levels, one can manage it well by adhering to a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy body weight.

The Keto diet is a high-fat, moderate protein, and very low-carbohydrate diet which can help people maintain their blood sugar levels. Although it might sound bizarre that a high-fat diet helps a person with diabetes, the ketogenic diet which is high in fat and low in carbohydrates can potentially alter the way a person’s body stores and utilizes energy. Instead of using up sugars to produce energy the body would use fat to make energy.

How does the keto diet help diabetics?

How does the keto diet help diabetics?

“You are what you eat” goes the old saying and the importance of a healthy diet has long been emphasized. Needless to say, nutrition is the key to preventing lifestyle disorders like type 2 diabetes and obesity.

The Keto diet is very popular among clinicians and diabetics, however, the appropriateness of lowering carbohydrates and increasing fat consumption is still debated. But researchers have pointed out that individuals with type 2 diabetes can lose weight and reduce their blood sugar levels by doing keto.

In fact, even before the advent of exogenous insulin for treating diabetes in the early 1920s, dietary modification has been the most recommended therapeutic option.

Keto diet has the potential to lower blood sugar levels. Reducing carbohydrates can help individuals with diabetes better manage their blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates elevate one’s blood glucose levels compared to other foods and it requires more insulin to digest them. This is why reducing carb intake helps stabilize a person’s blood glucose.

A low-carb ketogenic diet has been demonstrated to be effective for improving glycemia for type 2 diabetes patients. Not only did it improve glycemic control in those type 2 diabetes patients but it was also very effective at lowering blood glucose levels, but the diet also helped them reduce or discontinue their diabetes medications.

What happens when you’re on a keto diet?

Normally, glucose is the body’s main source of energy. But when you restrict carbs and consume fats, the body begins to burn fat to produce energy and converts amino acids from protein into glucose and fats become the primary energy source. Fats are broken down into compounds called ketones which are used by the body and that particular state of metabolism is called ketosis.

How does staying in ketosis help people with diabetes?

A ketogenic diet can help individuals with type 2 diabetes as it allows their bodies to maintain a healthy blood glucose level. Lowering net carb intake can help prevent large spikes in blood sugars and also reduce the need for insulin.

The keto diet can not only make diabetics lose weight, but also does benefit those with insulin resistance. Diabetics who are insulin resistant have higher blood sugar levels as their bodies wouldn’t respond properly to the insulin hormone. And with ketosis, their body will need and make less insulin.

And since the keto diet aids weight loss, people’s pancreas can keep up with their body’s insulin requirements more efficiently. Moreover, in some cases, weight loss itself is enough to restore blood sugar levels to normal, eliminating diabetes.

Keto diet has also been proven to help control HbA1c (glycated hemoglobin) the form of hemoglobin that is chemically linked to sugar. HbA1c levels refer to the amount of glucose traveling with hemoglobin in the blood over about three months and it indicates the average blood sugar levels of a person over the past couple of months.

How safe is keto for diabetics?

That depends on the type of diabetes one has, but, people with type 2 diabetes generally achieve good results. However, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor before trying out keto especially if you are diabetic. You might have to carefully monitor your health and watch for any adverse effects or ketoacidosis. In some cases, doctors might sometimes change your medicine prescriptions.

The keto diet might sometimes cause certain side effects like hypoglycemia since doing it alongside diabetic medications might lower one’s blood sugar levels too much. Thus it is ideal to undertake a ketogenic diet only under medical supervision to do it safely and effectively. It could take some training and some adjustments in both diabetes and blood pressure medications sometimes.

Also, diabetics who are trying to undertake a keto diet should take their physician’s advice and do keto the right way. They should ensure that they consume healthier fats and maintain their LDL and triglyceride levels.

Bottom line

The Keto diet is very effective at both lowering blood glucose levels as well as body weight and can therefore be highly beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes. A ketogenic diet might not only improve glycemic control in those who are diabetic but also help reduce the risk of diabetes who do not already have it. Apart from helping with glycemic control and aiding weight loss, a ketogenic diet also helps individuals with diabetes reduce their need for medications. However, it is best to discuss with your healthcare provider before indulging in a ketogenic diet if you have diabetes.