Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet and Diabetes
Keto was invented in the 1920’s to help patients with epilepsy. Since then, it has proven helpful for people with other conditions, like diabetes and obesity. Years of research has shown that it is particularly effective for people with type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a condition where the body can’t process sugar properly. Because carbohydrates are mode of sugars, carbs play a major role in diabetes. That’s where keto can help.
The point of keto is to remove all carbs, so that your body enters a fat-burning metabolic state called “ketosis”. Ketosis helps the body to manage symptoms of diabetes by doing things like:
- lowering blood sugar
- promoting weight loss
- reducing the need for insulin
- decreasing inflammation
Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes
Most research has focused on type 2 diabetes. While it is possible that keto can help with type 1 diabetes as well, more research needs to be done to be sure.
What’s the difference between the two kinds of diabetes? The main difference is that type 1 is genetic, whereas type 2 develops over time, mostly due to diet.
Because type 2 diabetes is most often caused by a low-nutrition diet, it makes sense that a change in diet can affect it. Indeed, people who are diagnosed with diabetes are often prescribed specific dietary changes. Sometimes they are prescribed keto.
In either case, diabetes prevents the body from processing sugar properly, because it does not produce or use insulin properly. Insulin is an important hormone that regulates blood sugar, and people who have diabetes often need to take insulin in order to survive.
Keto can help promote weight loss
It’s no secret that keto can help people lose weight- in fact, that is one of the most common reasons for pursuing keto. But losing weight isn’t just about looking good. For people with diabetes, losing weight can help save their lives.
Research has shown that low-carbohydrate and keto diets can help with weight loss. At least one study has focused specifically on people with type 2 diabetes. After one year, people in the study had lost an average of 30 pounds.
Keto helps promote weight loss by cutting out junk food and replacing it with mostly protein, fat, and fiber. The extra fat doesn’t get turned into body fat because the body burns more fat under ketosis.
Keto helps control blood sugar
Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, is the main problem caused by diabetes. It can cause mood swings, headaches, nausea, and lethargy.
Carbohydrates raise your blood sugar whenever you eat them. Refined carbs, like white flour or sugar, are the worst. Your body pulls them apart quickly, rapidly spiking your blood sugar. Whole grains are better but will still increase your blood sugar by a little bit.
Keto reduces blood sugar by eliminating every kind of sugar from the diet. This has the effect of reducing mood swings and keeping blood sugar levels even.
Keto helps insulin function
Many people with serious type 2 diabetes have to inject themselves with insulin to help manage their blood sugar levels.
Research has shown that a ketogenic diet can help people with type 2 diabetes manage their insulin levels. In some cases, patients were able to eliminate their dependence on insulin entirely.
Keto helps reduce inflammation
The modern, Western diet is often chock full of refined carbs and sugars, and low in fiber. While Twinkies, donuts, and Oreos are tasty, our body can’t process them as well as it can natural, whole ingredients. These “junk food” products cause internal inflammation.
Diabetes and inflammation are linked. As type 2 diabetes develops, the body becomes insulin resistant, and this causes inflammation. Lowering inflammation, therefore, can help manage symptoms of diabetes.
Risks of keto for diabetics
A century worth of observations has shown that keto can be safe for many people. But changing diet and lifestyle always comes with some risks.
Shortly after starting keto, many people experience the so called “keto flu”. This is a set of symptoms that includes nausea, headache, and vomiting. In most cases, this simply goes away after a few days.
Diabetics have other risks. In some cases, they can experience a state called “ketoacidosis”.
Some people confuse ketosis with ketoacidosis. Ketosis is a natural metabolic state that your body enters when it runs out of carbs, and begins burning fat instead. To do this, fats get turned into molecules called “ketones”, which can be consumed instead of carbs.
Ketoacidosis, on the other hand, is a dangerous, often fatal condition caused by having way too many ketones in the bloodstream. It is like ketosis’ evil twin. Ketoacidosis is a danger for people with diabetes, and is usually managed with insulin.
Being diabetic is the main risk factor for ketoacidosis. But diabetics don’t have to be on keto to get it. Most commonly, ketoacidosis develops when a patient fails to take their medication.
Conclusion- Benefits of Keto for Diabetes
Keto is not a miracle cure for diabetes, but it can do a lot to manage symptoms. Years of research has shown that adopting a ketogenic diet helps patients with weight loss, blood sugar, insulin levels, and inflammation.
If you suffer from diabetes, keto might be able to help you. This is something you could talk about with your doctor.
Changing diets is always a challenge, but there are plenty of resources to help. Check out some of our recipes to see if you like keto cooking, or browse our selection of keto-friendly products.