A new randomised trial, comparing high-carbohydrate and low-carbohydrate diets, has found that the latter lead to safer and more stable control in type 1 diabetes.
In this small study, ten participants with type 1 diabetes followed both diets for one week each. The high-carb diet contained 250g or more of carbohydrates daily, while the low-carb diet was capped at 50g or less per day.
The participants were middle-aged, insulin-pump users with an average HbA1c averaged of 53 mmol/mol (7%) before starting the study.
At the end of each week, the researchers gathered fasting blood sugar measurements as well as information from the participants’ pumps and sensors after eating one diet or the other.
After reviewing the data, researchers reported that while average blood sugar levels were similar between the two diets, the variation in participants’ blood glucose curves were significantly different.
The low-carb diet resulted in reduced time with both high and low blood glucose levels and more time within the normal range, compared to the high-carb diet.
The fact that participants on low-carb spent less time with low blood sugar levels indicates that it is a safer way of eating, limiting the incidence of hypoglycemic events.
As they also spent less time with high blood sugar levels, this is likely to mean a lower risk of developing long-term complications if a low-carb lifestyle is maintained.
Longer studies than this one have reached the same conclusion, that restricting carbohydrate intake improves blood sugar management and a host of other factors for people with diabetes.
Whilst the study was small, it represents one of the first randomised studies into low-carb eating for people with type 1 diabetes.
The research could pave the way for larger randomised trials testing the benefits of low-carb over a standard low-fat diet.