Ketogenic Diet, Type 1 Diabetes Remission
Health-e-Solutions comment: Just so we are clear, the title of this article, Ketogenic-Diet, Type 1 Diabetes Remission, is not mine. It is the authors. I like it, but this is not a study that proves it can be done, but rather it discusses the viability of such a concept. The #RomanDiet produces better blood sugar control in nearly all diabetics who implement it (without the excessive meat in a paleo diet).
The authors summary about the prospects of the ketogenic diet for people with type 1 diabetes bears repeating right here at the outset: In some cases of type 1 diabetes, the immune system only partially destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. These people may regain their ability to produce insulin and later go into remission. The ketogenic diet looks particularly promising as a way to control blood sugar levels, hence also the condition itself, in these cases.
We have no way to prove it scientifically, but this sure sounds like what happened with our boys. Since healthy food is the primary activator, it sure did not hurt to try it (with doctor supervision of course). We could not be more thrilled with the results.
The diabetic-alkaline diet is not quite the same as any of the ketogenic diets pictured. Diabetes has some unique considerations, such as “right-carbs” instead of that which we usually eat in the standard American diet. That is why we created recipes that taste great, but also keep blood sugars from spiking or going to low by encouraging the body to burn an alternate fuel source (fat) instead of glucose.
Ketogenic Diet for Remission in Type 1 Diabetes
The ketogenic diet was designed as an intervention for seizures in children. Its composition of high amounts of fat, adequate amounts of protein and minimal amounts of carbohydrates forces the brain to switch to a different kind of metabolism that stabilizes the brain and prevents seizures. The ketogenic diet has also proven successful as a treatment of type 2 diabetes. Research has yet to show whether the diet is equally effective in type 1 diabetes when combined with insulin therapy.
The Ketogenic Diet
Russell Wilder, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic, developed the ketogenic diet in the 1920s. Few anti-seizure medications were available, and none of them were safe. The ketogenic diet turned out to be both successful and safe when patients were monitored. The diet consists of 70 percent fat, the minimum quantity of protein required for repair and maintenance, and carbohydrates for the rest. The calories of the diet are high enough to prevent weight loss. Though a horde of anti-seizure medications are now available, Johns Hopkins hospital still successfully uses the diet in seizure control when traditional treatments fail.
The ketogenic diet is designed to make the brain switch from its normal glucose metabolism to ketone body metabolism. Unlike most other cells in the body, the brain can only use glucose or ketone bodies, a product of fat metabolism, as a fuel. The brain switches to ketone body metabolism when there is a shortage of glucose. Carbohydrates are the main source of glucose. Protein can convert to glucose but is primarily used for body maintenance and repair. Fatty acids do not convert to glucose. So, restricting carbohydrates and avoiding excess protein reduces the amount of available glucose and makes the brain switch its metabolism.
Diabetes is a condition in which insulin fails to communicate with cells. In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that synthesize insulin. In type 2 diabetes, cell receptors become resistant to the effects of insulin. Insulin is the main hormone to inform cells when fuel is available in the bloodstream. If left untreated both types of diabetes give rise to high glucose levels. Elevated glucose levels can lead to kidney damage, nerve damage and blindness. Type 1 diabetes is controlled with regular insulin injections and diet, whereas type 2 normally is controlled with diet and sometimes blood glucose medications.
Ketogenic Diet and Type 2 Diabetes
A study published in the December 2008 issue of “Nutrition & Metabolism” showed that a ketogenic diet is more successful in treating type 2 diabetes than a diet that cuts calories and focuses on eating only good carbohydrates, such as brown rice, whole grain bread pasta, vegetables and legumes. The study reported that 95.2 percent of the patients on the ketogenic diet and 62.1 percent of the patients on the good-carb diet were able to reduce, or stop taking, diabetes medication at the end of the study.
Assessment of the Data
The Duke researchers who compared the ketogenic diet to a good-carb diet attribute the positive properties of the ketogenic diet to its ability to lower blood sugar. Decreased blood sugar, they say, leads to weight loss and reduces the need for large quantities of functional insulin. However, the claim that the ketogenic diet always leads to weight loss is disputable. The original version of the diet didn’t. It is likely that a high-fat diet promotes weight loss by reducing appetite rather than by lowering blood sugar levels.
The Prospects for People with Type 1 Diabetes
There are no hard data on whether a ketogenic diet could also have positive effects on type 1 diabetes. However, type 1 diabetes normally requires blood sugar control via dietary restrictions in addition to daily insulin. As the ketogenic diet stabilizes blood sugar, it is likely that it would also have beneficial effects on type 1 diabetes. In some cases of type 1 diabetes, the immune system only partially destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. These people may regain their ability to produce insulin and later go into remission. The ketogenic diet looks particularly promising as a way to control blood sugar levels, hence also the condition itself, in these cases.
- Mayo Clinic: Diabetes
- “Nutrition and Metabolism”; The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus; Eric Westman, et al.; December 2008
- “Nutrition and Metabolism”; A low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet to treat type 2 diabetes; Yancy WS Jr, Foy M, Chalecki AM, Vernon MC, Westman EC; December 2005
- Natural Physiques: The History of the Ketogenic Diet, by Lyle McDonald
- Johns Hopkins Hospital: The Ketogenic Diet Center