keto diabetes

The Ketogenic diet reduces the intake of carbohydrates, increasing the levels of insulin and relieving diabetes symptoms. Here is all you need to know about Keto diabetes. 

What is the Keto Diet?

The Ketogenic or Keto diet is an eating plan that replaces carbohydrates with healthy fats. By burning fat instead of carbs, the body enters a state called “ketosis” and creates “ketones” – fatty acids used as energy.

The standard Keto diet requires maintaining a daily carb intake below 50 grams. This type of diet is generally high in fat (60%–85%) that you can find in nuts and seeds, olive and coconut oil, tuna, salmon and butter, and moderate in protein (15%–30%) that you can get from cheese, fish and Greek yoghurt, and low in carbohydrates (5%–10%) that you can enjoy from fruits and vegetables.

What is Diabetes?

keto for diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease caused by the incapacity of the pancreas to produce the hormone insulin or to use the insulin it produces. This leads to hyperglycaemia (or increased glucose levels) in the blood. In the long term, hyperglycaemia can damage the body and determines different organs and tissues to fail.

Types of Diabetes

The main types of diabetes are type 1, type 2 and gestational.

Type 1 diabetes can occur at any age but most frequently in children and adolescents. In type 1 diabetes, the body produces very little, or no insulin and daily insulin injections are needed to control blood glucose levels.

Type 2 diabetes affects mainly adults and accounts for about 90% of all diabetes cases. In this type of diabetes, the body cannot use efficiently the insulin it produces. Although type 2 diabetes can be managed for a period by adopting a healthy diet and engaging in regular physical activity, it will require most people insulin or oral drugs to keep blood glucose levels under control.

Gestational diabetes (GDM) causes high blood glucose during pregnancy and can create health issues for the mother and child. GDM disappears in most cases after pregnancy. However, women and children affected by this type of diabetes present a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes in later years.

What Happens to a Person with Diabetes in Ketosis?

In normal physiologic circumstances, the body produces adenosine triphosphate (ATP), its principal energy source. When carbohydrate intake is restricted or limited, the body breaks down glycogen in the liver to generate glucose. If a diet restricting or limiting carbs is maintained longer, the glycogen storages run out, and so does glucose. This triggers the liver to break down triglycerides to produce ketones. This process of ketogenesis is regulated by insulin with low carbohydrate intake leading to low insulin levels and ketosis.

The main problem in diabetes is the incapacity to manage blood glucose. The body produces insulin in response to high blood sugar levels to bring these levels back to normal. But the body of people affected by type 1 diabetes cannot produce insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin, making the cells resistant to the effects of this hormone. Carbohydrates increase your blood sugar levels because they are converted to blood glucose.

Is Keto Good for Diabetics?

keto diet for diabetes

Many years ago, when insulin medication wasn’t available, patients affected by diabetes were recommended low-carbohydrate diets. These eating plans can improve several blood sugar markers and even reduce the need for certain diabetes medications.

For example, a study conducted in 2008 on people affected by type 2 diabetes and obesity concluded that participants following the Keto diet displayed improved glycemic control and medication reduction compared to those following a low-glycemic diet.  

A review published in 2013 indicated that a Ketogenic diet could improve blood sugar control and decrease insulin requirements compared to other diets

What Else you Should Know Before Adopting a Ketogenic Diet

According to a review in the medical database StatPearls, the long-term health implications of Keto diabetes are not completely understood due to limited studies available.

If you are a diabetic and decide to adopt Keto, you need to check with your doctor. Keto diabetes requires a doctor and a nutritionist to supervise your disease since it can lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels), and your medication may need to be adjusted.

You need to know that in the first weeks of the diet, you might experience several side effects like fatigue, frequent urination and excessive thirst.

The most significant risk of Keto diabetes is developing diabetic ketoacidosis. This is a life-threatening complication that develops when there is too little insulin in the body, making it believe it’s starving, with the risk of coma and even death. Diabetic ketoacidosis occurs when the body has too little insulin, making it believe it is starving and causing it to break down fat into ketones. When ketones are too high, the blood can become more acidic. Evidence indicates that people with Type 1 Diabetes are more prone to ketoacidosis than those with Type 2 diabetes. No matter the type of diabetes you suffer from, you need to contact your doctor as soon as these symptoms occur.

Keto diabetes has several health benefits, and you can enjoy them by communicating to your doctor your intention to adopt this diet. The doctor can provide you with recommendations based on your condition, medical history and medication, enabling you to alleviate the symptoms of your diabetes.

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