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Is the keto diet bad for diabetics?

Is the keto diet bad for diabetics?

Diabetes is a serious and complex condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar. While there is currently no cure, it can be managed with daily care – and diet is an extremely important part of this. But, is the keto diet bad for diabetics - we investigate?

Is the keto diet bad for diabetics?

Yes or no? Is the keto diet bad for diabetics

Some studies suggest that people with diabetes can benefit from low-carb diets – and as a result, it might be tempting for diabetics to follow a ketogenic (keto) diet. But is it really suitable, or is the keto diet bad for diabetics? The answer seems to depend on what type of diabetes we’re talking about.

Keto for type 2 diabetes

In a healthy person, the body uses insulin to bring glucose from the blood into the cells so they can use it for energy. However, in a person with type 2 diabetes, the body is either not producing enough insulin, or the insulin is not working effectively. This causes glucose to stay in the blood, leading to a higher than normal blood sugar levels.

For people with type 2 diabetes, recent evidence has shown that, in the short term, the ketogenic (keto) diet can be an effective way to manage blood sugar. As it severely restricts carbohydrates, it forces the body to break down fats for energy instead of glucose. The lower intake of carbs decreases the body’s demand for insulin and helps to keep blood glucose levels at a stable, healthy level. It can also help with weight management, which is very important in type 2 diabetics.

Keto for type 1 diabetes

In people with type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune reaction destroys the cells that produce insulin – meaning they will always have to rely on insulin injections to control their blood sugar levels. While a low-carb diet has anecdotally been found to help some type 1 diabetics keep their blood glucose levels stable, there have been very few studies looking into its long-term safety and effectiveness, and there are a number of potential risk factors. For example, people with type 1 diabetes may experience sudden drops in blood glucose levels and be at a higher risk of hypoglycaemia when following a low-carb eating plan like keto.

Furthermore, when fat is broken down to make energy, as is the case with the keto diet, chemicals called ketones are made as a by-product. If the levels of ketones get too high in the body (which can happen with type 1 diabetics if insulin intake is not very carefully monitored) it can lead to life-threatening diabetic ketoacidosis. Furthermore, many patients with type 1 diabetes also have some degree of renal impairment, and the build-up of ketones and acids in the body may cause too much stress on the kidneys.

Keto is generally not recommended for type 1 diabetics for these reasons.

So, is the keto diet bad for diabetics? If you have any type of diabetes and wish to give the keto diet a try, it is always safest to do so in consultation with your healthcare team.

Read more: What can you eat on a keto diet

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