Reversing Type 2 Diabetes with Low-Carb High Fat Diet

Diabetes is the fastest growing disease in India. 10.4% of the adult population in India is diabetic, while 24.7% of the total population suffers from pre-diabetes. In 2017, there were about 73 million (7.3 crore) cases of diabetes in India. According to the Indian Heart Association, India is  projected to have 109 million (10.9 crore) cases of diabetes by 2035. This helps to give an idea of the scale of the problem. Of these cases, more than 90% are those of Type 2 diabetes. This presents a great challenge, and requires an urgent solution.

The Conventional Approach

Traditionally, Type 2 diabetes has been thought to be a progressive disease. Conventional medicine follows a pharmaceutical based approach to managing diabetes. Drugs are prescribed, which work for some time, till eventually blood sugar levels start shooting up again. The medicines are then increased or changed, and the cycle continues, till finally the patient has no option but to inject insulin. Anti-hyperglycemic drugs have significant side-effects, and this is further compounded by the weight gain associated with insulin. Thus, under the conventional system, patients enjoying a good quality of life are few, while the majority grapple with side-effects and weight gain.

Conventionally, the only other options that a diabetic has are bariatric surgery, and extremely low calorie diet. These are not workable options for most people. Bariatric surgery can reverse diabetes in some cases, but comes with risks, is expensive, and the benefits often do not last beyond a few years. The other option, extremely low calorie diet, is not sustainable beyond a few months, hence it is not a real solution. Thus, the conventional approach does not really offer a lasting and workable solution to the problem of diabetes.

However, another option does exist, through which diabetes can not only be managed safely and sustainably, but can also be reversed. This is the option of low-carb diet.

Why Low-Carb?

As  I have mentioned in another article, carbohydrates are long chains of sugar molecules. Once ingested, digestible carbohydrates are broken up into the component sugars, which enter the blood stream. Diabetics have difficulty in absorbing sugars from the blood stream into the cells of the body. Thus, blood sugar levels quickly get raised beyond the normal threshold. Sugar molecules start binding to various tissues of the body, under effect of body heat, thus harming the body, and causing systemic inflammation. The result is a host of serious complications that diabetes is known for. Thus, ingestion of carbohydrates presents a significant problem to the body. This is why we have repeatedly stressed that:

Diabetes is a disease of carbohydrate intolerance.

The problem of diabetes can be elegantly addressed at the source, simply by restricting carbohydrate intake. When we restrict carbohydrates, we naturally prevent our blood sugars from spiking, so that the progression of disease is stopped in its tracks, while health is gradually restored.

Prof. Tim Noakes, in his review of dLife.in, writes:

My personal experience and the growing body of scientific evidence now shows that type 2 diabetes is a disease of choice. It results from the food choices we make on a daily basis. If those food choices are high in sugar, carbohydrates and industrial “vegetable” oils, then our chance of developing diabetes is high.

But the good news is that if we avoid those food choices and instead eat real foods low in carbohydrate and higher in fat and protein, we can prevent the condition from ever developing in the first place. And as we now know, even if we have developed diabetes as a result of bad food choices, we can still put the condition into remission if we change those choices.

Finding Your Safe Carb Limits

Contrary to common belief, carbohydrate intake is not necessary for the human body. Unlike ‘essential’ fats and proteins, there are no essential carbohydrates. However, carbohydrates can be ingested up to a certain limit without raising blood sugars beyond the safe threshold. This carb limit is different for each diabetic, and needs to be discovered through experimentation and frequent testing. Through frequent testing, we are able to determine our daily carb limit, and per-meal limit. The safe per-meal limit also varies with time of day, as the body generally is more sensitive to carbohydrates in the morning and evening, while more accepting in the afternoon. Further, while testing, we should make sure to keep target post-meal values for blood sugar in mind. The target values are a maximum of 140 mg/dl after one hour of first bite, and a maximum of 120 mg/dl after 2 hours of first bite.

Thus we recommend frequent testing for a period of time, to find out how our body reacts to various foods. Once our safe foods and limits are determined, we find that we can sustain a low-carb lifestyle indefinitely, as long as we stay within our safe limits. Hence, the low-carb way of living proves to be a novel, effective and elegant solution to the problem of diabetes, which is safe as well as sustainable, and without side-effects.

The Question of Fiber

A portion of dietary carbohydrates consists of indigestible fiber. This fiber portion slows down glucose absorption slightly, but is not enough to make a significant difference. Hence, a high carbohydrate diet, even if it is rich in fiber, will quickly raise blood sugars, and is not suitable for diabetics.

There is a misconception that a diet centered on whole grains will lower blood sugars. It is not true. This can be quickly confirmed by having a whole grain based meal, and testing your blood sugar subsequently. We repeat, that blood sugar should not increase beyond 120 mg/dL, measured at two hours after first bite. At any time, blood sugars beyond 140 mg/dL are not safe, and should be avoided.

What if you are at risk for Hypoglycaemia?

Some patients are on medications such as sulfonylureas or insulin, which carry the risk of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). Such patients are at risk of hypoglycaemia if they lower their carbohydrate intake suddenly and drastically. For such patients, we recommend joining dLife.in to get expert help, in order to systematically lower carbohydrate intake and at the same time taper medications / insulin, without the risk of hypoglycaemia. We provide considerable guidance and hand-holding, with the aim that you may become an expert in the low-carb lifestyle, and be able to help others.

Defining Type 2 Diabetes Reversal

Type 2 Diabetes is diagnosed based on blood sugar levels. So if blood sugar numbers can be brought down and consistently maintained at normal levels, without the use of diabetes-specific medicines or insulin, we consider it reversed. Diabetes is diagnosed at HbA1C greater than 6.5%, however even levels above 5.6% are not normal, and are classified as pre-diabetes.

We at dLife.in consider Type 2 diabetes to be reversed if one consistently achieves an HbA1C of 5.6% or lower, with fasting blood sugar below 100 mg/dland without the use of anti-hyperglycaemic drugs, except Metformin.

We exclude Metformin, as it has other uses besides diabetes. Further, it has been shown to improve insulin resistance, and is thus indispensable to anyone having insulin resistance.

Is Reversal the same as Cure?

The Low Carb lifestyle is an effective approach to manage diabetes, and to keep our blood sugars from rising beyond safe limits. However, it is not a “cure”. Diabetes, as such, cannot be cured. But, it can be managed quite successfully. Unlike what is conventionally believed, it does not have to be a progressive condition. We have members who have been following the low-carb way of life for over 8 years, and are successfully managing their diabetes, without the deterioration that is normally seen with the conventional high carb, high medicine approach.

We should, however, keep in mind that we can successfully regulate our blood sugars, and stop our condition from deteriorating, only as long we maintain our dietary behaviour. If we fall off track and revert to a high carbohydrate lifestyle, the diseased condition will come back, with its full consequences. Hence long-term commitment to sustain the reversal is essential.

A Uniquely Indian Solution

Most people equate all low-carb diet with the Ketogenic Diet. This is especially true of the west. While the Ketogenic diet is a subset of LCHF (Low Carb High Fat, or Healthy Fat), all LCHF is not Keto. It is very true that the Ketogenic diet, when properly followed, can reverse Type 2 diabetes. In dLife.in, we have several members who follow keto, and have reversed their diabetes. However, this is not always possible for everyone, especially for Indian vegetarians.

Fortunately, a middle path exists, that of Indian LCHF Diet. This is an Indianised diet followed by most members of dLife.in. It is created by Indians and for Indians, and has been used by a large number of  dLife.in members to reverse their diabetes. Indian LCHF allows a higher but still safe carb limit, and is easy to follow in the Indian context. It is simple and sustainable for Indians, including Indian vegetarians. Thus, it offers an ideal solution to the problem of diabetes in India.

Taking the First Steps

When you follow a low carb way of eating, it is preferable to have some foundational knowledge. We recommend that you first go through a period of study, before diving right in. Type 2 Diabetes is a metabolic disease, and it is very useful to understand the basics of how various foods affect our bodies, and the role of insulin & insulin resistance, among other things. Once we develop a foundational understanding, we know why a low carb diet is necessary, and long-term commitment to stick to a healthy, metabolically appropriate diet follows naturally.

Once basic understanding is developed, you can start experimenting with your diet, and start checking your numbers aggressively. You need to keep a track of what foods you eat, and what numbers they result in, on a daily basis for a few weeks. This exercise is indispensable, and must be followed diligently, until you develop a mental database of how various foods affect your sugars.

This combination of low-carb theory and low-carb practice results in an excellent foundation, upon which you can build your low-carb lifestyle.

Further, there are several other points to be kept in mind, such as right quantity and quality of proteins & fats, how to obtain micro-nutrients, in which Indian foods sugars secretly reside, etc. All this, and much more, is made clear through numerous resources in our forum section. We provide considerable hand-holding and individual guidance to members, specially beginners. So, if you feel daunted by the task of switching to low carb lifestyle, you should consider joining. Also, if you are on anti-hyperglycaemic medications, we highly recommend that you join, so that the transition is done safely, and you can be weaned off your drugs gradually, and in a safe manner.

Lastly, we wish to reiterate, that diabetes does not have to be the scourge, and progressive disease that it has become. A solution is not only possible, but very much within reach. There is hope.

This article is reproduced with permission from dLife.in 
Original Source: https://www.dlife.in/news-and-research-articles-on-diabetes-obesity-lipids/reversing-type-2-diabetes-with-low-carb-diet/