A 12-point critical review of research has shown that low-carbohydrate diets are an effective first approach for treatment of diabetes.
The paper was published online January in Nutrition, and shows that low carbohydrate diets reliably reduce high blood glucose – the most salient feature of diabetes.
Benefits of this type of diet do not require weight loss, but weight loss can be a side effect of it. Carbohydrate-restricted diets also reduce or eliminate the need for medication with no side effects comparable with those seen in intensive pharmacologic treatment of the disease.
The paper noted patients with type 2 diabetes on carbohydrate-restricted diets reduce and frequently eliminate medication. People with type 1 usually require lower insulin.
The research shows the more dietary carbohydrate consumed, the more medication will be required to control blood glucose. The disadvantage to a low-carbohydrate diet, however, rests with individual choices.
When medication is reduced, there may be a danger of hypoglycemia for those patients on glucose-lowering medication. Researchers are recommending medication be reduced in advance of initiating a low-carbohydrate diet. Personal communications suggest that there are a variety of strategies for reducing insulin or other drugs. Whether the patient (or the physician) knows this is potentially a serious question.