One of the most popular questions from individuals living with diabetes is, ‘what should I eat?’. People may be inundated with the latest food and diet trends and it can be difficult to determine the right eating pattern that supports a healthy lifestyle to support diabetes management.
Diabetes Canada’s position statement on “Low Carbohydrate Diets for Adults with Diabetes: A Rapid Review” gives an overview of the latest evidence about this dietary pattern as it relates to diabetes.
“We believe that people with diabetes should have the best information available to guide their choices about diabetes management,” says Seema Nagpal, Vice-President of Science & Policy. “Our new position statement and summary regarding low carbohydrate (CHO) diets and diabetes informs individuals of the most current research and also offers some recommendations for care.”
Excess calorie intake and over-consumption of refined carbohydrates are major drivers of the epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes, while obesity is emerging as a challenge for people with type 1 diabetes. The Diabetes Canada 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada emphasize the importance of nutritionally balanced, calorie reduced diets to achieve and maintain a healthier body weight. This can be achieved with several nutrition plans based on individual preferences and treatment goals.
Overall, research on lower-CHO diets have shown some improvements in people with type 1 diabetes, including lower A1C levels, reduced insulin requirements, less glucose variability, and weight loss. Studies on lower-CHO diets in people with type 2 diabetes have shown similar improvements. The long-term effects are not yet known.
Diabetes Canada has also developed a summary of the evidence as a position statement for individuals living with diabetes.
“We encourage people living with diabetes who want to follow a low carbohydrate diet to seek professional advice from a health-care professional,” says Nagpal. “Dietitians can help create a sustainable plan to suit a person’s personal circumstances and lifestyle. And if a dietitian is not accessible in a community, individuals should consult with a member of their diabetes health-care team to seek expert advice and support as part of their overall management.”
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