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Reduced Carbohydrate Intake Improves Type 2 Diabetics’ Ability to Regulate Blood Sugar

Patients with type 2 diabetes improve their ability to regulate blood sugar levels if they eat food with a reduced carbohydrate content and an increased share of protein and fat. This is shown by a recent study conducted at Bispebjerg Hospital in collaboration with, among other partners, Aarhus University and the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen. The findings are contrary to the conventional dietary recommendations for type 2 diabetics.

Nutritional therapy is important to treat the type 2 diabetes optimally, but the recommendations are unclear. According to the Danish Health Authority, up to 85 percent of newly diagnosed patients with type 2 diabetes are overweight, and they are typically advised to follow a diet focused on weight loss containing fewer calories than they burn, low fat content and a high content of carbohydrates with a low glycemic index (a measure of how quickly a food affects blood sugar levels).

Reduced carbohydrate content—increase in protein and fat

A central aspect in the treatment of type 2 diabetes is the patient’s ability to regulate their blood sugar levels, and new research now indicates that a diet with a reduced carbohydrate content and an increased share of protein and fat improves the patient’s ability to regulate his or her blood sugar levels compared with the conventional dietary recommendations. In addition, it reduces liver fat content and also has a beneficial effect on fat metabolism in type 2 diabetics.

 What did the study show?

  • A diet with a reduced carbohydrate content, high protein content and moderately increased fat content improves glycemic control (the ability to regulate blood sugar) by reducing blood sugar after meals and ‘long-term blood sugar’ (measured by HbA1c, which is a blood test used to measure the average blood sugar level over approximately the past two months).
  • A diet with a reduced carbohydrate content, a high protein content and a moderately increased fat content reduces liver fat content.
  • A diet with a reduced carbohydrate content may be beneficial to patients with type 2 diabetes even if it does not lead to weight loss.

For information and research details: Mads J. Skytte et al, A carbohydrate-reduced high-protein diet improves HbA1c and liver fat content in weight stable participants with type 2 diabetes: a randomised controlled trial, Diabetologia (2019). DOI: 10.1007/s00125-019-4956-4

Provided by University of Copenhagen

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