The Ketogenic Diet and Type 1 Diabetes

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The ketogenic diet was the biggest diet trend in 2018 on Google. It was first used in the early 1920s to treat epilepsy and diabetes but in recent years has also been used for weight loss. Studies show that the keto diet might help with various diseases like type-2 diabetes. While 95% of people with diabetes have this type, you might be wondering about keto diet and type 1 diabetes. The low-carb diet seems to improve blood sugar levels and insulin resistance although most diabetes studies have been for type-2 diabetes. Type-1 diabetes involves the pancreas not producing enough of the hormone insulin.

One of the main benefits of low-carb diets is they help to prevent spikes in blood sugar. This can help with various related health conditions like insulin resistance, prediabetes, and diabetes. Foods like white flour/rice/sugar are processed so they’re simple carbs that cause glucose (blood sugar) levels to rise faster. If you have sky-high blood sugar levels it can increase your risk of diabetes. Most scientific studies involving diabetes are for type II since only 5% of diabetics have type I diabetes. However, it’s still critical to know the best diets for controlling blood sugar and type 1-diabetes. 

What Is Type 1 Diabetes?

It’s important to first talk about what type-1 diabetes is all about. This health condition was formerly known as “juvenile diabetes.” It’s a serious condition that causes the pancreases to make little insulin or none at all.

This hormone is required so sugar can make energy by entering cells. Factors that can lead to type-1 diabetes include genetics and viruses. People of any age can develop type-1 diabetes although it’s more common in children/teens.

There’s no cure yet for type-1 diabetes. Some treatment options include insulin and diet/lifestyle changes in order to prevent possible complications.

The symptoms of type-1 diabetes can happen quickly and include:

  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Mood changes
  • Weakness
  • Blurry vision
  • Thirstiness

If you experience multiple symptoms you should consult a doctor immediately.

Doctors aren’t certain about what exactly causes type-1 diabetes. The usual problem is the patient’s immune system attacks healthy cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. There are other potential causes including genetics and environmental factors like viruses.

Insulin hormones play a big role in the development of type-1 diabetes. When healthy cells in the pancreas are destroyed this causes the body to produce little/no insulin.

This causes several problems. The pancreas releases insulin into a person’s bloodstream. This flows through the blood so sugar can enter the person’s cells. The hormone also helps to lower blood sugar levels. When this happens, it helps to reduce how much inulin the pancreas produces.

Type I diabetes also can affect glucose (blood sugar). The main sources are food and the liver. Blood sugar enters the bloodstream via insulin and the liver stores extra glucose in the form of “glycogen.” When blood sugars are low the body breaks down stored fat for energy.

Type-1 diabetes prevents blood sugar from entering cells. This causes blood sugar from building in the bloodstream.

The Keto Diet and Type 1 Diabetes

The ketogenic/keto diet is an LCHF diet that studies show can provide several health benefits. Some studies show it can help to treat diseases like diabetes, epilepsy, and cancer. In fact, the diet was originally used in the 1920s to treat diabetes and epilepsy.

Type 1 and 2 diabetes both involve glucose/insulin but are different. Type-1 diabetes involves the pancreas not producing enough insulin. Meanwhile, type-2 diabetes usually involves insulin resistance and affects how the human body processes glucose (blood sugar).

Studies show the keto diet can help with glucose/insulin issues. However, it might not be ideal for diabetics with the type-1 form of the disease.

If you have type-1 diabetes it’s important to know the difference between something called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and the metabolic state known as ketosis.

DKA involves an emergency situation in which diabetics (type-1 usually) who don’t get enough insulin. When this happens the body’s levels of blood sugar/ketones increase quickly. This affects the blood’s balance of acids/bases.

When on the keto diet your carb intake is under 50g/day. This causes your body to get energy from stored fat. This is known as ketosis because your body gets energy from stored fat known as ketones.

If you have type-1 diabetes and are considering the keto diet you should talk to your doctor or a dietician. This can help to prevent major complications that you’ll want to avoid.

Studies show that the keto diet can greatly lower diabetics’ blood sugar levels. That includes those with type 1/2 diabetes.

In general, it’s a good thing. However, in some cases, diabetics experienced blood sugar levels that were too low. The cause is usually linked to not getting insulin dosages that are high enough. When this happens it can cause various side-effects. They include dizziness, confusion, and fainting.

The keto diet can also cause unhealthy weight loss for type-1 diabetics.

Tips to Lower Blood Sugar Naturally

1. Eat more dietary fiber

Studies show that fiber helps to improve carb digestion as well as sugar absorption. This results in blood sugar levels increasing more slowly.

The keto diet doesn’t allow grains or beans. However, you can still get fiber from other foods. They include green leafy veggies, non-starchy vegetables, and fruits.

High-fiber diets can also help with type-1 diabetes. That’s because it improves blood sugar management and lowers blood sugar.

2. Drink more water

Fun Fact: water is the only natural 0-calorie food. H2O prevents dehydration and also helps to remove extra blood sugar in the kidneys. One study revealed that people who drank extra water had a lower risk of high glucose levels.

3. Reduce carb intake

This is what the keto diet is all about When you consume a high-carb diet this causes blood sugar spikes, which can worsen diabetes symptoms. Make sure to look for foods with a low glycemic index (GI). These foods are digested more slowly, which helps to prevent blood sugar spikes.

In the keto diet, you’re required to eat fewer than 50g of carbs per day. While some people’s diets are two-thirds carbs, some modified keto diets only allow about 5%. Try carb-counting, and yes—there’s an app for that.

4. Eat smaller portions

This helps to consume fewer calories, which can help you lose weight. That, in turn, helps to lower blood sugar levels and prevent blood sugar spikes.

5. Exercise More

This might be a surprising one since it’s unrelated to diet. What’s it all about? Regular exercise can help to boost insulin sensitivity and produce weight loss. When your insulin sensitivity increases it helps your cells use blood sugar better. 

There are various options. You could do running, hiking, biking, swimming, or walking to improve the results of the keto diet and type 1 diabetes.

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