While you can control your blood sugar levels and shed off the pounds using the keto diet, many don’t consider that this is a very successful way to both maintain and prevent diabetes, Type 2.
Diabetes is one of the most prominent health conditions in the country that’s been affecting America, and it’s steadily increasing, spreading to young children, and even more young and middle aged males and females. There is nearly 10% of the United States population that had diabetes (both Type 1 and Type 2), and over a million Americans get diagnosed with this disease annually, thus increasing the number to about 35 million now. Of course that doesn’t include those who have symptoms, genetics, and those that have never been diagnosed with diabetes.
Believe it or not, there are more Americans than you realize who have never been treated with both diabetes (high blood sugar) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and both of these are caused by an imbalance of insulin and glucose processing in the body.
There are many physicians who have admitted that Type 2 diabetes can be prevented and controlled with certain diets, as well as changing habits in your lifestyle. Nobody can completely agree on what diet works better though.
Scientists and health fanatics alike though, have found overwhelming results from studies that show a low carb solution, especially the ketogenic diet full of high “healthy fats” can help regulate your body’s blood sugar, as well as get your diabetes under control. There are even professionals that have claimed that a keto diet can eliminate Type 2 diabetes side effects altogether, though this hasn’t been completely proven (Otherwise this would be the alternative and a “medical cure” for everyone who has diabetes).
We’re going to go through many aspects to teach you on how the ketogenic diet can help you with diabetes prevention and maintenance. We’ll cover these topics:
- What is Keto?
- Diabetes Explained
- How Keto Diet Affects Type 2 Diabetes
- Diabetes Prevention with Fat?
- Can All Diabetics Use Keto?
What is Keto?
A keto diet is a diet made of depleting carbohydrate intake and also using a diet which is high in healthy fats to make your body stop creating more glucose, as well as burning carbs (which convert to glucose) and make it use fats for energy instead.
When the diet was created, it was purely therapeutic, and was generally a diet for epileptic children, although studies have been showing how well they can affect and treat diabetes, as well as help with weight loss, general health and well-being, and a ton of other ailments and treatments.
Why does this diet generally add up? Well, considering the fact that the ketogenic diet’s main function is to lower blood sugar, it makes your body’s cells more susceptible to absorbing and creating insulin, and thus you won’t have all of the sporadic highs or lows that normally come with eating a ton of carbs from starches and sugars.
Other things the keto diet is prominently known for are things such as the decrease of body fat, better body and mind balance, increased energy and stamina levels, and reducing swelling of both internal organs and tissues.
So wait, the keto diet can help me not have so many brain farts and be able to think better? You mean there is a possibility that I can actually stop being diabetic?
While the answer to the latter is unfortunately not proven, the keto diet can help many people become a little less resistant to just how well they can absorb insulin properly. This is good news for diabetics, because they have a hard time with this.
So we have to cover this, so that you will fully understand if you are a diabetic and don’t have either a proper diagnosis, or you just generally don’t have all the answers for you when it comes to your diabetes. This way we can have a better understanding of how ketosis can help a diabetic person.
Diabetes is a very serious health condition that occurs when you have high blood sugar (high blood glucose levels) consistently. Your blood sugar is caused by your body taking the carbs (or sugars) and breaking them down into glucose with a process known as gluconeogenesis, our body’s way of breaking down starches to create sugars for our body to use as energy. Unfortunately, when you’re diabetic, and your liver transmits the glucose throughout your body, you don’t have the insulin to help break down the sugars properly to transport the glucose properly throughout your body. Here’s a more detailed explanation laid out in “layman’s terms”.
Insulin is a natural hormone that our body’s produce in our pancreas. As mentioned above, it delivers the glucose into your body’s cells so it can use it for energy
Here’s the process:
- You eat, and your body takes those carbohydrates/sugars and melts them down to glucose.
- The glucose goes into your bloodstream.
- Your body says “Whoa! I have sugar!” and then as your blood sugar rises, your pancreas say “Okay!” and starts pumping out insulin.
- That insulin goes through, joins the glucose, and helps to deliver it throughout your body so it can be turned into energy.
Should your body not create the same amount of insulin it needs in order to use the glucose, the glucose stays in your blood. After a while, your brain and body suffer a lot of issues because it’s not disposing of the glucose the way it should.
What Kind of Diabetes Is There?
We’ll see, there are two types, ironically named Type 1, and Type 2. I know, right?
But to be serious, Type 1 diabetes is mainly specific to your internal organs, and it is an autoimmune disease that basically destroys your pancreas, and is potentially very deadly. It can make you not be able to create insulin altogether, and many people have died from it, let alone have constant struggles. It primarily genetic, but is also due to many factors of natural and health environments. Have you ever seen someone who is taking insulin shots all the time, on a schedule, or every day? There’s a good chance that they have type 1 diabetes, and without that insulin, they could die.
Most generally, diabetes Type 1 is pretty rare, and only affects a handful of the populated cases of diabetes in the country. However, anyone can develop it, especially those who already have Type 2. So what’s Type 2 Diabetes? Let us explain it for you.
Type 2 is a form of diabetes that actually affects almost all of the diabetes cases in the continental U.S. With Type 2 diabetes, you are either producing insulin, but your body says “No way! I don’t want it!” and rejects the insulin created by your pancreas. Sometimes, your pancreas just simply can’t keep up with insulin production to deal with your high blood glucose levels, which is another way Type 2 diabetes can occur (so there’s really three different types, but there are approximately 2 different types of Type 2 diabetes, and they either happen more prominently one way, or alternate back and forth). This form of diabetes is generally from eating unhealthy foods, sugary goodness, junk foods, and choices you make throughout your life (exercising, etc.) Anybody can get Type 2 diabetes (even if you have hypoglycemia, you can still develop Type 2 diabetes, although it is possible to have non-diabetic hypoglycemia).
How Keto Diet Affects Type 2 Diabetes
When you’re on a keto diet, you are lowering your blood glucose levels at an alarming rate, but still at a healthy pace (your body has to adjust to ketosis after the course of time). When you have type 2 diabetes, this can be very helpful. When you have Type 1 however, that changes things around a little bit, but we’ll explain that later.
Say you have Type 2 diabetes. Your body’s rejecting your insulin, or not absorbing it right, so you have a resistance to your own insulin. This means you’re producing it, but your body is still not using your blood glucose for energy right, and thus it ends up stuck flowing through your body.
With keto, your bodily system goes from using this glucose to using the ketones out of the fats instead. Therefore, as you start diving more and more into a state of ketosis, your blood sugars will drop right along with it, but not at a dangerous level. Usually, it’s just enough so your body can continue to keep up with your blood glucose levels.
Because of this, many people who start going keto see their blood sugar levels and even their insulin levels pan out, and sometimes it has been rumored by some enthusiasts that keto itself can help to eliminate and even keep you from getting Type 2 diabetes together.
You have to follow a very strict ratio of vitamins and minerals that most people aren’t used to. The biggest hard part that most people have is simply getting rid of the carbs altogether.
Most people generally who are on keto only limit themselves to about 30 grams of carbs per day (usually this is net carbs FYI). By continuously not having very many carbohydrates, and not eating very many, your body eventually has decreased levels of glucose in the bloodstream, and therefore you don’t need that much insulin to deliver the glucose you do have into your cells. Of course, the keto diet can help you lose weight also, which obesity is one of the leading causes of Type 2 diabetes. This means that you can use it to control and possibly prevent Type 2 diabetes side effects.
Some People Have a Misconception that Keto Can Cause Diabetes
As the title says; there is a big difference between keto and ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is one that people with Diabetes have to worry about, but it is completely different than ketosis altogether.
When your body changes to using ketones as a primary source for fuel, your ketones being increased helps your body and mind create clean biodegradable fuel for your body. Excess is generally just excreted as waist. If your blood ketone level is around 0.1 mmol/liter to 1.5mmol/liter you are in a healthy state of ketosis.
When you develop what’s called ketoacidosis, you’re in turn suffering from ketoacidosis. This is generally a side effect (and a dangerous one) of Type 1 diabetes. But this normally doesn’t happen when the level of ketones is above 3.0mmol/liter (which is double the recommended maximum mmol/liter anyway). If you have Type 1 diabetes, you can always check your ketone levels with either a blood strip test, or a breathalyzer (the first one is more common). The ADA says that you need to check your levels of ketone if your blood sugar is above 240mg/dL, but who knows what they know?
Other than this, there are no negative impacts to your personal health for eating healthy and not eating carbs, let alone eating healthy fats.
Let’s Get Into Ketosis!
You always want to consult with your physician before you start a keto diet, as this may not be for you, or it could do more damage than good depending on your blood sugar levels, health conditions, and more.
When you’re trying to get into Ketosis, you literally substitute the carbs with healthy fats and a very big dose of protein (it’s not pure protein, but just extremely using less carbohydrates).
After a period of time, your body forgets about the glycogen that’s stored throughout your body, and starts to use fat more and more instead so your body can achieve a state of ketosis, which is when your body starts taking in its own ketones instead of using that glucose. After a while, you’re out of glucose and your body will start to restructure this process some, ultimately resulting in using these ketones as energy.
You go into a state during this phase of ketosis which is simply called “keto-adaptation in this phase, and it can be a pain in the behind, but with persistence you’ll see the big different. The more someone sticks to ketosis, the better they become at metabolizing and burning fats (and even building lean muscle while doing so).
Diabetes Prevention with Fat?
Yep, you heard it right. Following a diet high in protein and low in carbs like the keto diet can give those who are suffering from diabetes both long and short term benefits. There is a prevention program for diabetics that studied over a thousand people who had a very high chance of getting diabetes. Over half of them were able to eliminate the diabetes from occurring by losing weight, and performing the keto diet.
The keto diet isn’t just a standard diet for just diabetic, but this way of eating high fats can lead to wait loss surprisingly enough (I know, fat to reduce body fat right?). When you increase your fat intake with healthy fats, your body’s hormones (as well as ghrelin, the gremlin hormone that makes you hungrier) get regulated better, and a little more appropriately, thus resulting in less cravings for food, and a general feeling of fullness throughout the day. You can essentially start to also lower your cravings for things such as junk foods, so you will stick to your keto diet longer and keep your glucose levels at a good peak.
Duke University took 28 people, all of which were obese, and had Type 2 Diabetes. They did a four month study and during this time, all of them consumed a keto diet and slowly were weaning themselves off of their diabetic medications. There was a significant decrease in both body weight from fat, and a decrease in Hemoglobin levels. The result? They had better blood sugar levels, lower weight, and their blood pressure drastically improved in almost half of the patients.
So the science behind many nutrition experts was wrong. It’s not fat that makes you fat, it’s the fats you eat! And the actual types of saturated fats you eat (yes, there’s more than one).
Can All Diabetics Use Keto?
This is a very big debate, and some of the times you have to realize that depending on your diabetic state, you need to be more careful. If you should have a kidney disease, you need to make sure you limit the amount of protein you eat, but you still must eat sufficient levels to help you achieve ketosis.
While some people say you can perform a keto diet without lowering the intake of protein, you need to talk to your doctor about the right amount of protein for you.
When it comes to gestational diabetes, a disorder that normally happens during late pregnancy, there is no answer that has been proven on whether ketosis is good or bad. Look at how many of our ancestors conceived and had offspring when they were fasting or were in states of heavy ketosis. Everyone’s body is capable of achieving this state. While it is possible however, a pregnant woman still needs to be careful because eating a low carb diet can still help prevent the possibilities of getting this form of diabetes.
So we get back to the topic of Type 1 diabetes. This is a lot different, because you can’t create insulin at all. The keto diet in turn is a huge debate, and while it may be possible, someone with Type 1 diabetes has to worry about insulin deficiency, so there’s no way of getting around that. You also have a higher chance of ketoacidosis when you have Type 1, which can cause your pH balance to increase in the blood and this can be very fatal.
Some physicians actually use a low carb diet, and believe that it is possible to use the keto diet to prevent blood sugar spikes. Hale Berry is a famous actress who also uses the keto diet, and she has Type 1 diabetes, yet she is able to use the diet to control her weight. There just isn’t enough scientific proof (because of the risks and dangers involved) with studies. You must talk to your doctor or family practitioner before you try to change your diet and ask them about a keto diet and if it’s possible for you
Our Final Thoughts
With the final conclusion, it has been pretty much rules in this article that when it comes to Type 2 diabetes, we can definitely expect that there may be more backed up research in the long run regarding how the keto diet can prevent, cure, and even help generally control the disease. Along with this, we’ve seen scientific proof that the keto diet is a big lifestyle change, and it can impact other life choices (such as eating healthy, reducing cravings, increasing energy and even decreasing blood glucose problems – this along with losing weight in a healthy way and not an unhealthy manner). You must remember though, that no diet is for literally everyone. If this diet isn’t for you and you try it, it can harm you. If you talk to your diet and find that the keto diet isn’t for you, there may be other healthy alternative diets out there that can still help you as an individual achieve the same results. Another common diet which is very similar to the keto diet is the Atkins diet. This diet actually is still more of a low carb diet, and high in natural fats and Omega-3 fatty acids, and limits your carb intake nearly to the point that the general keto diet does. With the Atkins diet, you’re not limited to how much protein you can consume to go along with this, and while on the Atkins diet, you will eventually start eating more carbs again, you do achieve ketosis for the first part of the diet. Ask your doctor what diet is the right one for you if you are a diabetic, and you may be surprised. Science is always changing, especially in the medical field.