For many years it was believed that type 2 diabetes was a progressive disease meaning that symptoms eventually continue to worsen over time. But new research is proving what many in the low carb medical community have been saying for some time: that type 2 diabetes can be reversed with the proper food choices.
Recently, the American group Virta published their two year results for the treatment of diabetes with low carb therapeutic nutrition. The results were impressive. Not only did they prove that a low carb approach is both safe and sustainable, they showed that the health and wellbeing of individuals improved significantly.
The trial included a comparison group that received usual care for diabetes; this is the type of treatment people receive who aren’t following low carb. The differences between the two groups were important. While the number of people needing to take medication for diabetes on low carb nutrition decreased by 52 %, those in usual care increased by 18%. Insulin doses plummeted in the low carb group while those in usual care increased their insulin use over 2 years. This is significant because it is known that insulin causes weight gain, which in turn increases risk for other medical conditions.
In fact low carbers lost 12% body weight on average, while usual care patients gained weight, on average 5%. Cholesterol markers such as HDL and triglycerides, both significant risk factors for heart disease and heart attack, had a much greater improvement with low carb.
What does this mean for the treatment of type 2 diabetes? There is no drug that can offer this sort of improvement in type 2 diabetes. And yet in Canada, low carb is still not being offered to patients as an option. In the United States the American Diabetes Association has now endorsed low carb and has said that it is the only dietary pattern that will improve type 2 diabetes. The European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) also endorsed low carb. The Canadian Diabetes Association does list low carb as an acceptable approach to eating for people with type 2 diabetes, but it has not acknowledged that this dietary pattern can actually reverse the symptoms of the disease.
Reversing type 2 diabetes means that people can expect to live longer with a better quality of life.
It means no longer being at risk for serious complications such as diabetic neuropathy, kidney dialysis, amputation and blindness. It means a decreased risk of heart disease and heart attack. These are all things that health care providers want for their patients. So why not offer people with type 2 diabetes the option of low carb?
It’s important that everyone in Ontario, and all Canadians, be made aware that they have choices when it comes to managing type 2 diabetes. Approximately 30% of people in Ontario have diabetes or pre-diabetes- the second highest rate in the world. Low carb is not for everyone; individuals have to be willing to make changes in how they eat. However it is an option that should be offered to all eligible people with metabolic syndromes and type 2 diabetes.