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Some low-carb diets may reduce the risk of diabetes, but others may increase it

Summary: Animal-based low-carb diets were associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, while plant-based low-carb diets were associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes .

Source: American Heart Association

When it comes to low carb diets, perhaps it’s the quality, not the quantity, that matters most.

New research finds that low-carb animal diets were associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, while low-carb, plant-based diets were associated with a higher risk of diabetes weak.

The research, recently presented in Chicago at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions conference, is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

“To prevent the risk of type 2 diabetes in generally healthy people without prediabetes or diabetes, the amount of carbohydrates may not matter as much as the quality of proteins, fats and carbohydrates,” he said. lead author of the study, Yeli Wang, a researcher in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

“The key is to pay attention to the quality of the food.”

Low-carb diets are popular because research shows they can quickly reduce weight in six to 12 months. However, it’s unclear why they’re so effective for weight loss or how they affect long-term health. Diets that restrict carbs increase fat and protein, and one theory is that this leads to feelings of fullness, which helps reduce hunger. Another theory is that restricting carbs increases the body’s metabolism and helps burn calories.

There are at least a dozen popular low-carb diets, including the ketogenic diet — which drastically restricts carbs — and the paleo diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and lean meats and is modeled about foods that would have been available to humans during the Paleolithic. Age.

Some studies have suggested that very-low-carb diets may improve blood sugar levels in people with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. But the number of carbohydrates consumed in these diets varies, and the emphasis on fat consumption raises concerns about how diets can affect cholesterol levels and heart health.

The new study shows that some low-carb diets may be better than others, said Kristina Petersen, assistant professor in the department of nutrition at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.

“There is no standard definition for a low-carb diet,” said Petersen, who was not involved in the research. “At first glance, they don’t respond very well to dietary recommendations. What this study shows is that maybe they can, we just need to be aware of what’s in this diet.

In the study, researchers investigated the link between a low carbohydrate diet and the risks of developing type 2 diabetes, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

The analysis used dietary and medical data for 203,541 adults from three large national studies: the Nurses’ Health Study, the Nurses’ Health Study II, and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. . The studies collectively covered a period from 1984 to 2017. Participants completed questionnaires every four years about the foods they ate and were followed for up to 30 years. None were diabetic at baseline.

For the new study, whether a person’s diet was considered low-carb was not defined by the exact amount of carbs they ate each day. Instead, the researchers created a score based on the percentage of total energy each person gets from their daily protein, fat, and carbohydrate intake.

This shows a plate of eggs and avocado
Low-carb diets are popular because research shows they can quickly reduce weight in six to 12 months. Image is in public domain

Using these scores, participants were divided into five equal groups. The lowest-carb group in the study got about 40% of daily energy from carbs, Wang said. (In contrast, the U.S. dietary guidelines recommend that carbohydrates make up 45% to 65% of energy intake.)

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To assess the quality of the diets, the foods consumed were classified into 18 groups: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, vegetable oils, tea and coffee, fruit juices, refined cereals, potatoes, sugary drinks, sweets. and desserts, animal fats, dairy products, eggs, fish or seafood, meats and various foods of animal origin.

Preliminary data shows that people in the low-carb group who got more protein and fat from plant sources had a 6% lower risk of type 2 diabetes – and if their diet reduced sugar and other refined carbohydrates, they had a 6% lower risk of type 2 diabetes. 15% less risk.

In contrast, the lowest-carb group eating diets emphasizing animal protein and fats had a 35% higher risk of type 2 diabetes – and a 39% higher risk if their diet also minimized whole grains.

Wang said one of the study’s weaknesses was that most of the people who took part were white.

“We wonder if our results could be generalized to other ethnic groups,” she said. “We need to look at that, as well as people who regularly eat very low carb diets, such as the keto diet.”

The American Heart Association recommends eating a diet that includes a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and healthy sources of protein, such as fish and seafood, legumes and nuts, low-fat or dairy-free fat and lean meats. It encourages choosing minimally processed foods over ultra-processed foods and limiting sugar, salt, and alcohol.

About this diet and current diabetes research

Author: Laura Williamson
Source: American Heart Association
Contact: Laura Williamson – American Heart Association
Image: Image is in public domain

Original research: Findings will be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions

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