is keto diet safe for diabetics
Did you or someone you know recently get diagnosed with diabetes? Possibly you are someone that has lived with it for years. Have you struggled to find a diet for diabetes that is manageable? It is essential to understand how changes in your diet might help diabetes. Our goal is to assist you in choosing fuel for your body that will help you achieve your goals, be sustainable, and help you be successful in remedying these issues. In this article, we will learn what diabetes is, what causes it, and then answer the question, “is keto diet safe for diabetics?”
Diabetes is very common in today’s world. The World Health Organization states that there are over 422 million people living with it across the world. There are two main types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.
Diabetes is a disorder where the blood sugar levels in the body are elevated. When glucose is present in the body, the pancreas releases insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps create energy from glucose. Glucose is a natural sugar that comes from the food you eat. The glucose passes from your blood into your body’s cells because of insulin. Your body uses glucose when you need more energy (i.e. between meals, when exercising or sleeping).
Type 1 is an immune system disorder, also known as autoimmune disease, where the insulin producing cells in the pancreas are attacked. This means the body can no longer make insulin. Type 1 diabetes is sometimes called juvenile diabetes because many people are diagnosed as a child or young adult. It can also be called insulin dependent diabetes because, once diagnosed, one must take insulin in order to live. Individuals with type 1 diabetes cannot process glucose for energy as there is a lack of insulin. This creates high levels of blood sugar and can cause many problems.
As with many of the autoimmune diseases, the symptoms of type 1 diabetes are not exclusive. The symptoms include: excessive urination, unintended weight loss, fatigue, excessive thirst, and excessive hunger.
Like many other autoimmune diseases, the exact cause of type 1 diabetes is not known. There are a few risk factors to be cognizant of:
- Family history – several genes have been connected to type 1 diabetes. This does not mean that everyone with a family history will be diagnosed with it.
- Race – type 1 diabetes is more prevalent in white individuals than in people of other races. Again, this does not mean that every white individual will be diagnosed with it.
It is estimated that 90 to 95 percent of diabetes diagnoses are type 2 diabetes.
Individuals with type 2 diabetes do not produce enough insulin or the body is unable to use what is produced effectively. This creates high levels of blood sugar and can cause many problems.
The symptoms of type 2 diabetes include: blurry vision, increased urination, excessive fatigue, increased hunger, unexplained weight loss, infections or wounds that are slow to heal, and increased thirst. In type 2 diabetes symptoms can be very slow to develop. In fact, some people with type 2 diabetes do not experience any symptoms.
As you get older, the risk of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes increases. If you have had gestational diabetes (during pregnancy) or prediabetes you are at a higher risk. Family history and being overweight are other risk factors that can increase your possibility of being diagnosed. There are a few recommendations that can lower your risk of type 2 diabetes: regular exercise, a healthy diet and weight control.
Other complications can occur as part of unmanaged high blood sugar levels in the body. These include: risk for heart attack, eye problems, nerve pain, infections on the skin, kidney damage, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
It is important to be aware of any of the symptoms that were noted above and talk with your doctor should you experience them.
is keto diet safe for diabetics?
When beginning treatment for diabetes, your physician will work with you to help manage your diet, exercise regimen and medications to balance your blood sugar levels. If you are considering a keto diet, you will want to ask them to help you monitor it. If you focus on overall body health, the risk for diabetes will likely decrease. You should eliminate foods that are highly processed and those that contain artificial ingredients. Food is very powerful in keeping your body in optimum health. You might be asking yourself, “is keto diet safe for diabetics?” The most significant thing for people with diabetes to do is to monitor blood sugar levels. It is not recommended to skip meals. It is suggested to eat around the same time every day and pay attention to food labels. Your level of activity plays a role in managing diabetes. You will want to make sure you check your blood sugar levels before, during, and after you exercise. Your doctor will also work with you to monitor your insulin. There are a few different types of insulin:
- Long-acting: this insulin starts working approximately two hours after injection and can last up to 24 hours
- Intermediate-acting: this insulin starts working one to two hours after injection and can last 14 to 16 hours.
- Short-acting: injection occurs before a meal. It starts working within an hour and lasts 5 to 8 hours.
- Rapid-acting: this insulin starts working approximately 15 minutes after injection and can last 3 to 4 hours.
Is keto diet safe for diabetics? Let’s look at the ketogenic diet: you will be eliminating the carbohydrates that your body burns first for energy. In doing this, your body will begin to burn fat for energy. This is known as ketosis which is a metabolic process where your body uses fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. The basis of the keto diet is to devise an eating plan that helps your body reach ketosis. More simply put, it is a low carbohydrate and high fat diet. It consists of very little carbohydrates, moderate protein and focuses on healthy fats.
Improved insulin sensitivity and weight loss have both been linked to the keto diet. These are factors that play a role in managing diabetes.
One study showed that an anti-inflammatory diet, along with exercise and limiting alcohol, reduced insulin sensitivity. Because of this, you will want to minimize instigators of inflammation in your diet. Here are common foods that cause inflammation: sugar and high fructose corn syrup, artificial trans fats, vegetable and seed oils, refined carbohydrates, excessive alcohol, genetically modified foods, artificial sweeteners, and processed meat. It is wise to watch consumption of these products not only to avoid inflammation but also to promote healthy gut bacteria growth, which we will discuss below. Most of the foods that cause inflammation will be removed or dramatically reduced if you are following a ketogenic diet. Therefore, you will naturally experience a decrease in inflammation in your body which could lessen your insulin sensitivity.
One study showed that diabetes and obesity are impacted by the bacteria in your gut. The gut is a common term for the gastrointestinal tract. The gastrointestinal tract includes the mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestine. The intestines are part of the digestive system which are responsible for breaking down the food you eat, absorbing nutrients and water to provide nourishment, and removing waste products from the body. The intestines serve as a barrier between the gut and the rest of the body. A healthy intestinal tract can reduce inflammation, as well as house the healthy gut bacteria to process food. When managing diabetes, paying attention to gut health is important. The following foods are recommended to improve your gut health, they are also on the suggested food list when following a ketogenic diet:
- Vegetables: Broccoli, arugula, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, zucchini.
- Fermented vegetables: Kimchi, sauerkraut.
- Fruit: Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries.
- Sprouted seeds: Chia seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds.
- Healthy fats: Avocado, avocado oil, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil.
- Fish: Salmon, mackerel, trout, herring.
- Meats and eggs: Chicken, lamb, turkey, eggs.
- Beverages: Bone broth, teas, kombucha, water.
- Nuts: Pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts.
There are many foods that can negatively impact the healthy bacteria in your body. They include: wheat based products, grains with gluten, baked goods, junk food (chips, candy, fast food, etc.), and artificial sweeteners. Most of these foods will also be removed or cut considerably if you are following a ketogenic diet. Therefore, you will be promoting healthy bacteria in your intestines.
Some people have experienced a decrease in blood sugar when using keto diet. If there is too much glucose in the body, diabetics have high blood sugar, which can be dangerous. This often happens after consuming carbohydrates (starches, fiber and sugar). Minimizing carbohydrates could help diabetics keep their blood sugar low. With that being said, you should pay close attention to be sure that you are getting enough carbohydrates. Your doctor may want you to monitor glucose and ketone levels to make sure you are on the right track. It can be overwhelming to find that balance and, at times, it can be very frustrating. Keeping a food journal to see how your body responds to your diet can also be tremendously helpful.
Each person has a unique background and body composition that will impact how their diet works for them. We discussed avoiding inflammatory foods but there are a few other recommendations that may help you manage symptoms of diabetes. Most of these foods will also be removed or considerably reduced if you are following a ketogenic diet. For both a keto diet and diabetes, it is suggested to avoid:
- Sugar-sweetened beverages – high in carbohydrates, high levels of fructose
- Trans fats – chemically altered fats, linked to inflammation and insulin resistance
- White bread, pasta and rice – high in carbohydrates, low in fiber
- Sweetened breakfast cereals – high in carbohydrates, low in protein
- Honey, agave, maple syrup – these are all sugars and can increase blood sugar levels
- Dried fruit – contains more concentrated in sugar than real fruit
- Packaged snacks, including crackers, pretzels, etc. – often made of refined flour
- Fruit juice – contains high level of fructose
- French fries – fried in oil that can increase inflammation
What else can you do to lower your risk of diabetes? As with any issue your body faces, including chronic illnesses, it is imperative to make sure you remove things that negatively impact your health. It is just as significant to make sure you move your body as often as possible, allow enough time for your body to rest and repair itself, and supplement your nutrition. Most diets today are lacking some nutritional value. Make sure that you are getting the proper amount of vitamins and minerals into your body. Some other things that you can do to reduce inflammation and encourage healthy bacteria growth include:
- Reduce stress
- Avoid smoking
- Sleep more
Reducing stress, exercise, supplementing your nutrition, improving diet and getting enough rest can all improve the health of your body.
As with any dietary change, especially if you have other health concerns, it is important to discuss this subject with your primary care physician. You will want to create a plan where whole foods, particularly ones that you enjoy consuming, can be incorporated. A lot of focus should be put on the quality of food consumed. Other lifestyle changes such as increased physical activity and improving sleep can also contribute and improve overall results. Is keto diet safe for diabetics? As long as your blood sugar levels stay stable, the keto diet can assist you in improving the health of your whole body. We want to help you find the information needed to make informed decisions regarding a keto diet to support your health. In knowing the potential causes and issues triggered within your body, you can take steps to balance your diet while living with diabetes.