Ketogenic Diet and Diabetes: Managing Blood Sugar Levels Naturally – The ketogenic (keto) diet, known for its emphasis on weight loss, might seem counterintuitive as a special diet for type 2 diabetes. However, this high-fat, low-carb eating plan has the potential to revolutionize the way your body processes and utilizes energy, providing relief from diabetes symptoms.
Originally designed in the 1920s as a treatment for epilepsy, researchers are now studying the effects of the Ketogenic Diet and Diabetes type 2. By shifting the body’s energy source from sugar to fat, this diet has shown promise in improving blood glucose (sugar) levels and reducing the dependence on insulin. Nevertheless, it is crucial to consult your doctor before making significant dietary changes to mitigate potential risks.
Understanding the “high-fat” concept in the ketogenic diet
Many individuals with type 2 diabetes struggle with weight issues, making a high-fat diet appear unhelpful. However, the goal of the ketogenic diet is to train the body to rely on fat rather than carbohydrates or glucose for energy. Fat becomes the primary source of energy, while carbohydrates make up only a small portion of the overall diet.
It is important to note that the ketogenic diet does not encourage the consumption of saturated fats. Instead, it promotes heart-healthy fats that are essential for overall well-being. Some examples of healthy foods typically included in the ketogenic diet are:
- Salmon and other fatty fish
- Cottage cheese
- Olives and olive oil
- Nuts and nut butters
Impact on blood glucose levels
One of the potential benefits of the ketogenic diet is its ability to lower blood glucose levels. Managing carbohydrate intake is often recommended for individuals with type 2 diabetes since carbohydrates can quickly convert to sugar and cause spikes in blood sugar.
However, it is crucial to determine the appropriate carbohydrate intake based on individual circumstances in consultation with your doctor. Consuming excessive carbs can be hazardous if you already have high blood glucose levels. By shifting the focus to fat consumption, some individuals have experienced reduced blood sugar levels.
The Atkins diet and its relevance to diabetes
Often associated with the ketogenic diet, the Atkins diet is a well-known low-carb, high-protein eating plan. Although both diets share similarities, they have significant differences.
Created by Dr. Robert C. Atkins in the 1970s, the Atkins diet is often promoted as a weight-loss method that can also manage various health conditions, including type 2 diabetes.
While reducing excessive carbohydrate intake is generally beneficial for diabetes and high blood sugar levels, it remains unclear whether the Atkins diet alone can effectively address diabetes. Weight loss, regardless of the specific program followed, can contribute to diabetes management and improved blood sugar control.
Unlike the ketogenic diet, the Atkins diet does not specifically endorse increased fat consumption. However, individuals may inadvertently consume more fat by limiting carbohydrates and increasing animal protein intake.
Both diets share potential drawbacks, such as high saturated fat intake and the risk of excessively low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) when carbohydrate restriction is extreme. This risk is particularly significant if you take medications that increase insulin levels without adjusting the dosage accordingly.
Reducing carbohydrate intake through the Atkins diet may assist in weight loss and help manage diabetes symptoms. However, there is insufficient evidence to establish a direct correlation between the Atkins diet and diabetes control.
Potential dangers to consider
When the body’s primary energy source shifts from carbohydrates to fat, it results in increased ketones in the blood. This state, known as “dietary ketosis,” is different from the dangerous condition called ketoacidosis.
Having excessively high ketone levels puts individuals at risk of developing diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is more common in type 1 diabetes when blood glucose levels are too high due to insufficient insulin.
Although rare, individuals with type 2 diabetes can also experience DKA if ketone levels become too high. Illness while on a low-carb diet can further elevate the risk of DKA.
If you are following the ketogenic diet, it is essential to regularly monitor your blood sugar levels throughout the day to ensure they remain within the target range. Additionally, consider testing ketone levels to assess the risk of DKA.
The American Diabetes Association recommends testing for ketones when blood sugar levels exceed 240 mg/dL. Home urine strips can be used for testing.
DKA is a medical emergency, so if you experience symptoms associated with DKA, seek immediate medical attention. Complications can lead to diabetic coma.
Monitoring your diabetes
While the ketogenic diet may appear straightforward, a high-fat eating plan requires diligent monitoring, unlike a typical low-calorie diet. In some cases, starting the diet under medical supervision in a hospital setting may be necessary.
To ensure that the diet does not have adverse effects, your doctor will need to monitor both blood glucose and ketone levels. Even after your body adjusts to the diet, you may still need to visit your doctor for testing and medication adjustments on a monthly basis.
Even if your symptoms improve, regular blood glucose monitoring remains vital. The frequency of testing varies for individuals with type 2 diabetes, so consult your doctor to determine the most suitable testing schedule for your situation.