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Is Keto Diet Safe for Diabetes- Health Benefits and Side Effects of Keto for Diabetic Patient

keto diet for diabetes

Diabetes is a disease of blood glucose levels in the body. A person’s pancreas seize to process insulin effectively. Foods that are high in, either simple or complex carbohydrates are restrictive to the patient.  The diabetic can lead a fulfilling life if they follow a healthy diet, maintain good body weight and follow their medications regularly.

A keto diet is a low carb, high fat and moderate protein diet that can help some individuals with diabetes. You get 70% to 80% of your daily macronutrients from fatty sources like seeds, nuts, avocados (unsaturated fats), or coconut oil and butter (saturated fats). Around 20% to 30% of your diet comprises of protein from chicken breasts or fatty bacon. The carbs intake is very restrictive usually 30g a day is a max limit. All sources of carbohydrates like whole grains, milk, beans, etc are off-limit. Consumption of fruits and vegetables is also restrictive. Make sure to check carbs content per gram of your favorite fruit or veggie before deciding to munch on it.

On the surface, it’s a great match, since the keto diet is low on carbs and diabetic patients need to consume low carbs to beat diabetes.

However, there arises a question of whether to opt for the keto diet if you are diabetic. There is a mix of benefits and side effects one should be aware of before embarking on keto journey. We have made this post keeping that view in mind. In the following paragraphs, you will come to know about both the benefits and side effects of a keto diet for diabetes.

Please consult your doctor before you start your keto journey. This blog post is for informational use only and is not be a substitute for doctor advice.

Benefits of Keto Diet for Diabetes

Keto diet is an amazing high fat, low carb diet. It has been popularly adopted in the west to combat obesity and other health issues. Keto diet for diabetes has a great number of benefits which are listed below for your consideration

1. Blood Glucose control

A great benefit of a keto diet for diabetes is the ability to lower blood glucose levels.

The spike in blood sugar levels is due to high carbohydrate intake. But keto diets are low in carbs quantity, this helps in the reduction of blood sugar levels.

Research shows that the keto diet is beneficial in reducing HbA1c, a prime measure for long term blood sugar control. A recent study of 2008 by Eric and his colleagues showed a reduction in HbA1c of 17mmol/mol, over a period of 6 months for people suffering from type 2 diabetes.

Not only that, people with type 1 diabetes should see a bold reduction and control in blood glucose levels.

If Improvements in blood sugar level are maintained over the longhaul, this will help you with risk of complications later on.

However, it is advisable to talk to your doctor, if you are taking insulin treatment. Take precautions to avoid hypos.

2. Weight Loss and Weight Maintenance

Another main benefit of keto diet for diabetes is rapid weight loss. It works like this, keto diet restricts carbs intake that leads to ketosis. This weight loss state reduces body fat and retains muscle mass. Research shows that low-carb, keto diets are able to accomplish weight loss goals in the long run.

Aussie research showed that overweight people were able to lose 15 kg over a year.  The results were compared with another low-fat diet which reported 12 kg to lose for its participants.

3. Insulin Sensitivity

A keto diet for diabetes is backed by research to re-establish insulin sensitivity. It achieves this by eliminating the core cause of insulin resistance.

This diet helps stimulate continuous phases of low insulin, as small levels of carbs mean small levels of insulin. A high carbs diet is like putting gasoline on the fire. A high intake of carbs means a high need for insulin. This worsens your insulin resistance.

By contrast, keto diet shifts insulin intensity down. Fat is the micronutrient that requires the least amount of insulin to process itself.

Lowering insulin levels also aid in fat burning, because high insulin prevents the breakdown of fat. If your insulin levels are down for a number of hours, the body can break down fats much easily.

4. Reduced Dependence on Diabetic medicines

Keto diet for diabetes is significantly beneficial because it reduces the dependence of dieters on their diabetic medicines. Recent research showed that 95% of the people were able to leave their diabetic medications completely.

Although it is recommended for patients on insulin or glinides etc should speak to their doctors first. They would need to reduce their dosage of medications before they embark on the keto journey

5. Eliminates Bad Cholesterol

A Keto diet for diabetes improves your cholesterol levels. It eliminates bad cholesterol called LDL and increases good cholesterol levels called HDL.

You can measure your healthy cholesterol levels by a ratio of total cholesterol and HDL. Divide your total cholesterol result with your HDL result and you will get a good indication of your overall healthy cholesterols.

If your result is 3.5 or lower than that, then it’s good news for you. Various researches show that a keto diet for diabetes effectively improves cholesterol levels.

It should be noted that few people may actually show an increase in bad and total cholesterol after embarking on a keto journey. This can be an alarming and negative sign but if your total to HDL cholesterol ratio is good than its nothing to worry about.

Keep your doctor informed of such a situation. Because the topic of cholesterol is complicated and he can give better advice if your cholesterol levels change drastically while on a keto diet.

It is advisable to monitor your cholesterol levels at least once a year so that you can spot any negative trends and deal with them appropriately.

6. Controlling High Blood Pressure

It is recorded that in the UK alone, 16 million individuals have high blood pressure.

High blood pressure causes other dangerous health issues like kidney disease, stroke, and heart problems. These, in turn, causes metabolic syndrome.

Numerous researches have shown that a keto diet for diabetes can lower high blood pressure in people suffering from obesity or type-2 diabetes.

7. Improved Mental Performance

Better memory, mental clarity, and increased focus are frequently reported benefits of a keto diet for diabetes.

Eating lots of fish like tuna and salmon, and consuming fats like omega 3; help improves learning and mood disorders. It is because omega 3 increases DHA, a fatty acid that constitutes 20 to 30 percent of your brain.

The byproduct of ketone, called beta-hydroxybutyrate, helps improves long-term memory.

8. Kills Bacterial Infections

9. Early SatietyKeto diet for diabetes is beneficial in reducing yeast infections and thrush as it lowers blood glucose levels that pass into urine.

The culprit is glucose in urine which bacteria feed off from. This leads to a fertile breeding place for bacteria and yeast infections.

Moreover,  a higher intake of lauric acid, a saturated fatty acid, that is found in coconut oil has been proven to have anti-bacterial properties. As keto diet staple food is coconut oil, it makes it easy for keto dieters and diabetics to fight off candida albican and other types of bacterial and yeast infections

Keto diet has great effects on your appetite. As the body remains in ketosis, you breakdown fats for energy and this can help in reducing cravings.

This keeps you full for a longer period. This causes avoidance of overeating and as a result, you have an easier time meeting your weight loss goals.

Another benefit of reducing appetite is you get a reduced preference for sugary meals.

Keto diet for diabetes lowers your leptin levels which improve satiety and leptin sensitivity.

Side effects of the keto diet for diabetes

For some people with type 2 diabetes, the keto diet can be a reliable source of blood sugar management. However, as the keto lifestyle involves switching from carbs to fat as a primary source of energy, certain adverse effects are expected.

We can classify the side effects in two categories; namely, short-term side effects and long-term side effects of the keto diet for diabetes

Short-term side effects of the keto diet for diabetes

With all its benefits keto diet comes with a set of short term side effects that one will have to bear. It is reported in the initial phases of the diet and wears off gradually. Although the side effects below are annoying but are relatively safer than its long-term side effects

Following is the list of commonly reported keto side effects for diabetes

  • Keto flu resembles common cold and flu symptoms like runny nose, sneezing, etc
  • Frequent urination, need to go to the bathroom more often
  • Leg cramps,
  • Constipation
  • Headaches
  • Loss of salts
  • Mental fog
  • Excessive thirst
  • Hunger
  • Tachycardia
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness
  • Loss of energy

You will experience some or all of these side effects for a limited duration usually a week or two.  If you keep experiencing these symptoms for more than two weeks than inform your doctor right away.

Long-term side effects of the keto diet for diabetes

Now that we have covered short term side effects, it’s time to delve deeper into more serious and long-term side effects of the keto diet.

1. Hypoglycemia:

One of the adverse reaction of the keto diet for diabetes is the risk of dyslipidemia or hypoglycemic episodes

Even though keto diet is great for lowering A1c levels, but that also means you are at a higher risk of blood glucose level that sinks too low, especially if you are taking your diabetes medicine along with it. Let your family doctor know that you are on a keto diet. He would be able to advise better on what to do when your blood glucose level drops too low, or when to take medicine and how frequently to check your blood glucose levels.

2. Heart Problems:

Heart problem is another long term side effect of the keto diet for diabetes. If you munch on too many bacon or butter, which contains saturated fats that could increase your LDL cholesterol significantly. LDL is linked to heart diseases. It’s a grave concern for individuals with diabetes because diabetics are more at risk of getting heart problems. Make sure you offset this risk by consuming more mono and poly saturated fats instead of saturated ones. Good sources of those healthy fats include nuts, avocados, canola, and olive oil.

If you maintain a good balance, your bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides will go down.

Moreover, if you take medicines for high blood pressure please consult your doctor before going on a keto diet

In addition to that, numerous animal studies indicated that a low carb diet poses a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases– because it builds up excess fat in the arteries. Individuals with diabetes are at even higher risk of cardiovascular diseases because of high blood sugar levels

3. Lace of nutrients:

Many vegetables, fruits, and dairy products are off-limits when you are on a keto diet for diabetes. For this reason, you can miss most of the important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Talk with a keto nutritionist first who will give you an accurate meal plan according to your health needs.

4. Liver and Kidney Problems

Both liver and kidney help your body to process proteins and fats. Various experts believe that a keto diet for diabetes can overwork these vital organs. While others say you will be okay if your organs are in good condition

If these problems are unchecked, it can lead to an increased risk of bone fractures and the development of kidney stones due to acidosis.

5. Constipation:

The need to skip beans and whole grains, on the keto diet for diabetes, causes you to miss out on fiber. This, in turn, results in constipation.

6. Gallstones:

One of the bad effects of quick weight loss is the development of gallstones. Foods that are high in healthy fats and fiber can help you prevent that. Consult the doctor of your options before you go embark on the keto diet for diabetes

7. Weak Bones:

Reduce levels of insulin on the keto diet, increases the risk of bone fractures and stunt growth.

Also, there is a lack of consensus on long term effectiveness and safety of a keto diet for diabetes. Scientists have called for a vast body of knowledge and evidence before endorsing this diet.

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