Diabetes is a huge problem in the US. The 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report identified that this disease affects 29.1 million people in the US (9.3% of the population), and it is estimated that 86 million adults have prediabetes (1 out of every 3 adults). In contrast, today’s hunter-gatherer societies dispersed worldwide rarely experience degenerative diseases like type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes just doesn’t happen overnight. First, there are years of nutritional incongruities. Then there are years of progressive clinical manifestations of metabolic syndrome. Eventually, there is a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and later possibly a diagnosis of cardiovascular disease.
The manifestations of metabolic syndrome, which are frequently precursors to type 2 diabetes, include:
- High blood pressure
- Increased triglycerides
- Decreased HDL cholesterol
- Increased visceral fat around the waist
- Increased fasting blood glucose
Richard Feinman and 25 additional authors wrote a critical review citing evidence of the benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet on Type 2 diabetes and various metabolic syndrome markers. It was published in Nutrition on January 31, 2015. In this article, the authors summarized 12 points of evidence that strongly support the health benefits of a low carbohydrate diet.
The article points out that a low carbohydrate diet would consist of less than 130 grams of carbohydrates per day, which should translate to less than 26% of the total energy (calories) consumed in a day. In 2000, the average daily consumption of carbohydrates was 330 grams for men and 230 grams for women.
A primal or Paleo diet is a lifestyle of eating nutrient-dense foods. It could be a low-carbohydrate diet if fruits, nuts, and starchy vegetables were consumed in limited quantities.
Here is my summary of the article’s pertinent points that translates to an overall healthier body:
- Reducing dietary carbohydrates is the best way to decrease blood glucose levels.
- There has never been any other dietary intervention for weight loss that has been superior to reducing dietary carbohydrates.
- Replacing carbohydrates with protein in a meal is generally helpful with the exception of those people with existing kidney disease.
- Healthy fats that are consumed from food do not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Plasma saturated fatty acids, which contribute to cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance, are increased with consumption of carbohydrates. Healthy fats in food consumed by humans do not contribute to unhealthy levels of saturated fatty acids in their plasma.
- Reducing dietary carbohydrates will reduce serum levels of triglycerides, increase healthy levels of HDL cholesterol, and improve all factors of metabolic syndrome.
- There have never been human studies that have shown that lowering carbohydrates will have significant negative side effects.
A lifestyle that incorporates a low-carb eating plan is not just for type 2 diabetics. It is a healthy plan for the entire family, for the entire body, and for the entire mouth. I encourage you to read this review paper where you also will find all the references for the various studies to support the authors’ statements.