High-Fat Ketogenic Diet Helps Combat Diabetes Risk Factors

| March 15, 2017

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post here, scientists at Newcastle University showed in 2011 that a very low calorie diet – a mere 600 calories a day – can restore insulin production in the pancreas and reverse insulin resistance, in people with type 2 diabetes. But 600 calories a day is, in effect, a fast – and keeping to it can be quite a challenge.

That’s why researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) wanted to find out just how many calories, made up from what kinds of foods, could be added before the beneficial effects of fasting on metabolic disease were lost. They came up with a 1,100 calories-a-day diet that was high-fat, low-carbohydrate and relatively low-protein. They asked 71 non-diabetic volunteers, many of whom had high blood sugar levels and other diabetes risk factors, to follow this diet five days a week for three months.1

Not surprisingly, the participants each lost around six pounds (2.7 kg) in weight. They also had reductions in body fat, blood pressure and a hormone called IGF-1, which has been implicated in ageing and disease. The volunteers who had elevated levels of blood sugar, LDL-cholesterol and blood fats to start with also saw these readings come down to within normal ranges.

The study authors describe their eating plan as a ‘fasting-mimicking ketogenic diet’. Ketogenic means that the diet provides insufficient carbohydrate for the body to get its energy needs from burning glucose, so it must break down fat and use products called ketone bodies for energy instead.

In addition to improving the metabolic risk factors that can lead to type 2 diabetes, there is evidence from animal studies that this ketogenic diet – like the 600-calorie Newcastle University diet – could help to reverse diabetes by restoring insulin production. It appears to switch on genes linked with the growth of new beta cells in the pancreas. You can find some meal plans and practical ideas here for following a high-fat, ketogenic diet.

In my next blog post, I report on the crisis in the NHS and worrying revelations that hospital doctors often miss the warning signs of heart attacks.

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Category: Diet and Exercise

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