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Low-carb diet helps lower blood sugar levels in pre-diabetics, says study

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HQ Team

October 27, 2022: A new study found that eating a low carbohydrate diet can lower blood sugar levels in prediabetic or diabetic people who are not on any medicines.

For the study, researchers divided the participants into two groups—one that followed a low-carb diet for six months and another that followed their normal diet. A greater drop in haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), a marker for blood glucose levels, was seen in the low-carb diet participants compared to people who ate their usual diet.

The low-carbohydrate diet group also lost weight and had lower fasting glucose levels.

Study method

The study included 150 people aged 40 to 70 years old who had untreated prediabetes (HbA1C of 6.0% to 6.9%). Of these, 59% were Black, 41% white and 7% Hispanic.

People in the low-carb diet group people also attended behavioural counselling sessions and received recipes for low-carb meals. Low-carb foods such as nuts, olive oil, and other products were provided to help them make their own meals.

People in the normal diet were also given regular advice on healthy choices for food. Sessions on healthy living and right choices were held once a month for them.

Follow-ups were done after three months and six months. Ninety-five per cent of participants completed the 6-month study window.

After six months, people in the low-carb diet group saw an average decrease in HbA1c of 0.26 percentage points, which Dorans called “modest but clinically relevant.” In people following the usual diet, HbA1c decreased on average by 0.04 percentage points.

Researchers found that the low-carb diet group witnessed larger drops in fasting blood glucose levels, body weight, and fasting insulin levels.

“The key message is that a low-carbohydrate diet if maintained, might be a useful approach for preventing and treating type 2 diabetes, though more research is needed,” says lead author Kirsten Dorans, assistant professor of epidemiology at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

Type 2 diabetes can severely affect quality of life with symptoms and can cause other serious health problems like heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.

The study’s findings are especially important for those with prediabetes whose A1c levels are higher than normal but below levels that would be classified as diabetes.

The study doesn’t prove that a low-carb diet prevents diabetes, Dorans says.  “We already know that a low-carbohydrate diet is one dietary approach used among people who have type 2 diabetes, but there is not as much evidence on effects of this diet on blood sugar in people with prediabetes,” Dorans says. “Future work could be done to see if this dietary approach may be an alternative approach for type 2 diabetes prevention.”

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