Diabetes is a disease with many faces. It is expected to be on the rise by 2025 and it is amongst the top ten leading causes of death. Diabetes is a very common disease affecting people around the globe. Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disease that occurs when blood glucose (sugar) levels are too high.
This excess increase in glucose levels results from defects in either insulin secretion, insulin mechanism of action or both. Increase in blood glucose levels damage the vital organs causing a cascade of health issues. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas, and helps to regulate blood glucose levels. Variations in the amount of insulin in the body results in the development of diabetes.
There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes (also known as insulin dependent diabetes), occurs when a person’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. In other words, type 1 diabetes is a condition where the pancreas produces little or no insulin. This type of diabetes is more commonly found in children.
Type 2 diabetes is characterized as the inefficiency of body tissues to effectively respond to insulin in the body, or that the body does not produce enough insulin for normal function. The result is a build up of glucose in the bloodstream.
Diabetes is detected through blood tests. Both types require that the blood sugar levels are monitored at a healthy level. Diabetes, especially if uncontrolled, can cause severe health consequences. Excess glucose in the blood can damage the kidneys and blood vessels, leading to cardiovascular disease. As mentioned, dietary changes can be crucial in treating diabetes.
As Hippocrates said “let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food”. This advice is not to be taken so lightly. In today’s world, we are bombarded with pills. There seems to be a heavy reliance on medication, which can also cause serious side effects-leaving the patient with more medication to take. Perhaps it is a good time to take charge of our health through less reliance on medication and educating ourselves of the medicinal power of food. Of the many diets known to man, the ketogenic diet (also known as the keto diet), is one of the most well known dietary treatment plans.
The keto diet is a high fat low carbohydrate diet that shifts the body into running on fats rather than carbohydrates as a source of energy. Normally, the body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, the major source of energy for the body’s cells. When the body is deprived of glucose, the fatty acids in the liver cells undergo a breakdown called beta-oxidation, where they are broken into acetyl-CoA molecules. Through a biochemical process called ketogenesis, acetyl-CoA is converted to ketone bodies. Ketones are used by the body to generate energy from fat when a source of carbohydrate is low. A ketone diet is therefore fooling the body into a ‘starvation-like’ state.
Benefits of Keto diet in the treatment of diabetes include
Keto diet causes a decrease in insulin levels in the blood, producing more ketones and finally increasing fat burning. A decrease in body weight helps with many disease markers and has been shown to improve metabolic disorders (such as diabetes). Interestingly, when carbohydrates are broken down (rather than fats), glucose is released, cutting carbohydrates from the diet means less glucose for the body to burn up. When the body is in ketosis mode, it becomes efficient at burning fat for energy.
In Keto Diet hunger is suppressed, which forces more fat out of our storage than it goes in, and the body gets used to burning fat for energy. This can reduce appetite and control cravings, leading to eventual weight loss. The weight loss can minimize leptin ( a protein involved in regulating appetite and fat storage) levels in the body and help feel fuller longer. Thus keto can help lose weight by putting the body in a ketosis state. In addition, less carbohydrates means an increase in ketone production for energy. Ketones are made in the liver from fatty acids, therefore it can be said that the liver burns fat to make ketones (weight loss)
Keto diet allows the body to maintain glucose levels at a low and healthy level, thereby helps reduce the need for medication. A high fructose level is correlated to high incidences of hypertension. Fructose consumption (from fruit juices, corn syrup, candy, etc.) increases blood pressure by increasing sodium retention, which causes blood vessels to constrict. This increases a persons chances of developing heart diseases and further complicating already existing metabolic conditions. Moreover, low blood glucose levels encourage the body to breakdown fat into ketones. Ketones have been shown to aid in weight loss, decreasing blood glucose and reducing people’s dependency on diabetic medication
The reduced intake of carbohydrates in the diet can help eliminate spikes in blood sugar, which can aid in reducing the need for insulin medication
Blood sugar is kept low by limiting carbohydrate intake. Keto diet is considered a low glycemic diet.
highlights the importance of consuming unsaturated fats (such as olive oil and salmon), which are associated with a lower risk of developing heart disease.
Both increased amounts of blood glucose and weight gain puts a person at a high risk for developing diabetes. While a high fat diet might scare some from trying the keto diet, it should be noted that fat actually makes us feel fuller faster than carbs do. Also, keto diet uses good fats from healthy sources (avocado, nuts, etc.). Moreover, people following a keto diet are more likely to consume fewer calories because their foods are very rich and satiation is reached quicker. This is another reason the keto diet is effective in weight loss.
Managing diabetes and having a chance at a normal and healthy life should not be cumbersome. Becoming physically active is amongst the changes one can make towards a healthy life style. Along with being physically active, dietary changes can go a long way for achieving long term health. There are many resources on the web which can help become more familiar with diabetes and how to make lifestyle changes to better treat the disease. One such link is below and it provides some useful information: