Is keto diet the best for diabetics – By Harold Gunatillake
“Limiting the intake of carbohydrates is the central concept of the keto diet”.
Normally, our staple diet is ‘rice and curry’, we all eat a high carb diet, with less fats and proteins. A high carb diet is suitable for physically hard-working people like those in the building industry, farmers, or road workers who need more energy for their daily work and provide the fibre, fat, protein, and the micronutrients
That is the best-balanced diet that has stood the test of time for the hard-working Sri Lankan.
Sedentary people mainly the affluent class need to eat less rice with the same quantities of fat and proteins, but unfortunately this category of people is overweight and need to visit a gym for workouts or do a brisk walk to be fit and healthy.
When it comes to people having diabetes, doctors recommend a low carb, including low glycaemic index foods, with restriction of fat and not proteins.
Today’s discussion is whether keto diet is most suited to control blood sugar among people suffering from diabetes and is it the modern diet for them?
Normally, for quick energy we eat a high carb diet as described before.
In a ketogenic diet the carbs are restricted, and the body use dietary fat and protein to get the calorie requirement.
In short, it is a diet that shifts your calorie requirements from carbs to mainly fats, and this shift your metabolism into nutritional ketosis, meaning your body uses ketones in your blood for energy.
These ketones are produced from fat in your liver
In such a diet you cut down carbs that are easy to digest, like sugar, soda, pastries, white rice and white bread to less than 50 grams day.
When you eat less than 50 grams of carbs a day, your body runs out of fuel, then you’ll start to breakdown protein and fat for energy as mentioned earlier.
This is a diet recommended to lose weight, for epilepsy, heart disease, certain brain diseases and even for acne on your face.
Keto diet is beneficial to prevent some types of cancer
Insulin secreted by your pancreas is a factor that can cause cancer. With less production of insulin due to less carbs being consumed, seems to protect you against some kinds of cancer.
Keto diet seems to be beneficial to prevent heart disease
Keto diets reduce bad cholesterol in your blood and raise good cholesterol. This may be because lower manufacture of insulin from these diets can stop your body from making more cholesterol.
So, the incidence of heart disease will be less in people who consume ketogenic diet.
Diabetes and keto diet.
In keto diet you consume less than 50 grams of carbs a day. So, the blood sugar level will tend to be low, ideal situation and supportive for diabetes.
This diet may reduce the risk of diabetes in people who do not yet have but has a family history.
It improves glycaemic control in people with diabetes and helps to lose weight.
Scientists do warn that those following the keto diet with insulin regime medication might have a higher risk of developing hypoglycaemia.
You may need to reduce your insulin medication in such a situation by discussing with your family doctor.
Majority of the health professionals do not recommend the keto diet for managing diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) do not recommend any single diet like the keto, over another.
Accumulation of ketone bodies in the body in type 1 diabetes on keto diet may shift in the metabolism resulting in nutritional ketosis. These ketone body accumulations are toxic to the body and damage your kidneys.
On the other hand, if a type 1 diabetic does not take his insulin regularly the correct dose, will go into a condition called ketoacidosis, a medical emergency that could be fatal.
Keto diet does not allow the body to properly use insulin, so blood sugar may not be properly controlled, and may lead to insulin resistance which can raise the risk of type 2 diabetes.
High dietary fibre foods
Furthermore, you need to consume a food fibre from a variety of sources. Total dietary fibre intake should be 25 to 30 grams a day from food and supplements.
Unfortunately, keto diet being a low carb diet does not provide adequate daily requirement of dietary fibre.
You need to eat a balanced diet with high fibre to look after the beneficial microbes in your gut.
If you care for your allies in your gut, you need to eat foods good for your gut microbiota.
Gut health and nutrition are a hot topic and, now that it is known this is key to overall health.
So, keto diet is not a healthy diet, and not recommended for diabetics.
Instead a healthful balanced diet with plenty of low sugar fruits and vegetables is recommended.
You need to spread the intake of carbs out evenly throughout the day.
Chinese do it right. They eat a small amount of rice or noodles in a bowl every three to four hours, so that your blood sugar level is maintained at a healthy level with no spikes of blood sugar.
So, it is important to eat smaller meals more often rather than a large meal once or twice day.
Keto diet is not the overall best diet to control blood sugar levels among diabetics.
Stick to a balanced diet with low GI carbs focusing on high dietary fibre, less fat and moderate amount of proteins for your key to overall health.
About the author: Dr Gunatillake-Health editor is a member of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore. Member of the Australian Association of Cosmetic Surgery. Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (UK), Corresponding Fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, Member of the International Societies of Cosmetic surgery, Fellow of the International College of Surgery (US), Australian diplomat for the International Society of Plastic, Aesthetic & Reconstructive Surgery, Board member of the International Society of Aesthetic Surgery, Member of the American Academy of Aesthetic & Restorative Surgery, Life Member of the College of Surgeons, Sri Lanka, Batchelor of Medicine & Surgery (Cey). Government scholar to UK for higher studies and training.