This year World Health Day (7 April) turns its attention to fighting Type 2 diabetes, which is estimated to impact 552 million people in the next 20 years[i] – and low-carb living is gaining momentum as a successful strategy to combat this and other dietary lifestyle diseases.
Colette Heimowitz, Vice President of Nutrition and Education at Atkins Nutritionals, the long-term leaders in low-carb eating, says new Australian research[ii] underlines what Atkins has been highlighting for many years – that weight loss is just the first of many benefits of leading a low-carb lifestyle.
“A controlled-carbohydrate eating plan, such as the New Atkins Approach, can help stabilize blood sugar, not only promoting weight loss but reducing the cardiovascular factors associated with the development of Type 2 diabetes,” said Ms Heimowitz.
“The volume of peer-reviewed independent research making a compelling argument for low-carbohydrate nutrition to help prevent and control conditions such as obesity, high triglycerides, low HDL, high blood pressure, glucose intolerance, and insulin resistance is growing, with recent research[iii] as one example espousing the significant benefits of restricting carbohydrate intake among Type 2 diabetes patients.”
“The key lesson here is that prevention is key when it comes to addressing this global epidemic, with the strategy often as simple as changing the way we eat. We need to revise current dietary guidelines to reflect the latest scientific evidence to help win the war on diabetes – and a raft of other increasingly common lifestyle diseases,” she added.
Beat Diabetes. According to Atkins, the top benefits of reducing carbohydrate intake include:
- Control appetite – Diets with adequate protein, healthy fats, and high fibre carbohydrates leave followers feeling full for longer, and less likely to give in to unhealthy cravings. Low-carb is a lifestyle choice, not a diet, which means it’s easier to stick with in the long-term;
- Better weight loss – Studies have consistently shown a low-carb approach can produce faster, more efficient fat burning and weight loss than low-fat alternatives, especially in the critical first few months when rapid results boost motivation;
- Targets the unhealthiest fat – low-carb eating helps reduce fat around the organs – one of the key factors in metabolic disorders leading to heart disease and type 2 diabetes;
- Reduces triglycerides – blood triglycerides (fat molecules) are a known risk factor for heart disease and cutting carbohydrates reduces them significantly;
- Increases levels of HDL (‘good cholesterol’) – often called the ‘good cholesterol’, a low-carb lifestyle increases High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) which carry cholesterol to the liver for excretion. Heart disease is less likely with higher levels of HDL;
- Lower blood sugar and insulin levels – when broken down through digestion, carbohydrates boost the body’s blood sugar levels, prompting the release of insulin. In many people the body finds it hard to break down these sugars – cutting carbohydrate consumption is a simple solution to this problem;
- Reduce blood pressure – high blood pressure puts people at risk for many diseases including stroke, heart disease and kidney failure. Low-carb eating helps reduce blood pressure – and the associated risks;
- Reduce risk of metabolic syndrome – metabolic syndrome is caused by a combination of abdominal fat, high blood pressure, raised blood sugar, high triglycerides and low HDL levels. It boosts the risk for diabetes and heart disease. Low-carb diets reverse these symptoms.
ABOUT ATKINS: Scientifically formulated for safe weight loss, weight management and lifelong eating, New Atkins is an easy to follow, flexible four-phased program (start at the phase that best suits you) that helps you build a diet around whole foods rich in vitamins and ‘good carbohydrates’ including low sugar fruits, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, dairy, good fats, and protein (fish, poultry, red meat and tofu) – while at the same time helping you eliminate ‘bad’, highly processed carbs such as white flour and sugar. For further information visit atkins.com
[i] International Diabetes Foundation
[ii] Based on findings from a $1.3 million National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) funded study, which compared the low carbohydrate eating pattern with the current best practice approach of managing type 2 diabetes with a high-unrefined carbohydrate, low fat diet. http://www.csiro.au/en/News/News-releases/2016/Improved-diabetes-control-with-new-diet?featured=27F6622E2C954B819F5E36ECE881FA68
[iii] Based on findings from a $1.3 million National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) funded study, which compared the low carbohydrate eating pattern with the current best practice approach of managing type 2 diabetes with a high-unrefined carbohydrate, low fat diet. http://www.csiro.au/en/News/News-releases/2016/Improved-diabetes-control-with-new-diet?featured=27F6622E2C954B819F5E36ECE881FA68
APPENDIX A: Supporting scientific research
(1) Boden, Effect of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet on Appetite, Blood Glucose Levels, and Insulin Resistance in Obese Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2005. 142: p. 403-411
- Mean 24-hour plasma profiles of glucose levels normalized, mean hemoglobin A1c decreased from 7.3% to 6.8%, and insulin sensitivity improved by approximately 75%
- Mean plasma triglyceride and cholesterol levels decreased by 35% and 10% respectively
(2) Davis, Comparative Study of the Effects of a 1-Year Dietary Intervention of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet Versus a Low-Fat Diet on Weight and Glycemic Control in Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care, 2009. 32(7): p. 1147-1152
- Weight loss occurred faster in the low-carbohydrate group than in the low-fat group with a greater increase in HDL observed in the low-carbohydrate group
(3) Nielsen, Low-carbohydrate diet in type 2 diabetes: stable improvement of bodyweight and glycemic control during 44 months follow-up. Nutrition and Metabolism, 2008. 5(14): p. 1-6
- Obese patients with type 2 diabetes advised to follow a 20% carbohydrate diet for bodyweight and glycemic control.
(4) Shai, Weight Loss with a Low-Carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or Low-Fat Diet. The New England Journal of Medicine, 2008. 359(3): p. 229-241
- The relative reduction in the ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol was 20% in the low-carbohydrate group and 12% in the low-fat group
(5) Westman, The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nutrition & Metabolism, 2008. 5:36(Nutrition & Metabolism 2008, 5:36 doi:10.1186/1743-7075-5-36)
- The LCKD group had greater improvements in hemoglobin A1c, body weight, and high density lipoprotein cholesterol compared to the LGID group.
- Diabetes medications were reduced or eliminated in 95.2% of LCKD vs. 62% of LGID participants showing lifestyle modification using low-carb intervention is effective for e interventions is effective for improving and reversing type 2 diabetes.
(6) Yancy, A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet to treat type 2 diabetes. Nutrition and Metabolism, 2005. 2(34)
- The LCKD improved glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes such that diabetes medications were discontinued or reduced in most participants.
(7) Vernon, Clinical Experience of a Carbohydrate-Restricted Diet: Effect on Diabetes Mellitus. Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, 2003. 1(3): p. 233-237
- In this subgroup of compliant diabetic patients, a carbohydrate-restricted diet led to improvements in hemoglobin A1C and serum lipid parameters, in some instances without weight loss.
- Low carbohydrate diets lead to a marked improvement in glucose homeostasis in association with a reduction in antidiabetic therapy and weight loss.