If maintaining a healthy blood sugar level is a problem for you, then researchers at the Duke University Medical Center recommend you switch to a diet that encourages eating carbohydrates with the lowest-possible glycemic index readings.
Dr. Eric Westman, director of Duke's Lifestyle Medicine Program, revealed that patients who followed the no-glycemic diet experienced more frequent reductions, and in some cases elimination, of their need for medication to control type 2 diabetes.
"Low glycemic diets are good, but our work shows a no-glycemic diet is even better at improving blood sugar control. We found you can get a three-fold improvement in type 2 diabetes as evidenced by a standard test of the amount of sugar in the blood. That's an important distinction because as a physician who is faced with the choice of drugs or diet, I want a strong diet that's shown to improve type 2 diabetes and minimize medication use," he said.
For their study, the scientists randomized eighty four volunteers with obesity and type 2 diabetes to either a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet (less than 20 grams of carbs/day) or a low-glycemic, reduced calorie diet (500 calories/day).
According to the researchers, both groups attended group meetings, had nutritional supplementation, and an exercise regimen.
After 24 weeks, the participants' glycemic control was determined by a blood test that measured hemoglobin A1C, a standard test used to determine blood sugar control in patients with diabetes.
The researchers said that, among the participants who completed the study, those in the low-carbohydrate diet group had greater improvements in hemoglobin A1C.
Diabetes medications were reduced or eliminated in 95 percent of the low-carbohydrate volunteers, compared to 62 percent in the low-glycemic group.
The low-carbohydrate diet also resulted in a greater reduction in weight.
"It's simple. If you cut out the carbohydrates, your blood sugar goes down, and you lose weight which lowers your blood sugar even further. It's a one-two punch," says Westman.
Highlighting the fact that the diet is not easy for everybody, Westman added: "This is a therapeutic diet for people who are sick. These lifestyle approaches all have an intensive behavioral component. In our program, people come in every two weeks to get reinforcements and reminders. We've treated hundreds of patients this way now at Duke and what we see clinically and in our research shows that it works."
The findings have been published online in Nutrition and Metabolism.