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If you’re reading this blog post on 5th March 2012, there’s a good chance you came to it as a result of listening to discussion on BBC Radio 4’s programme ‘You and Yours’ about the most appropriate diet for those suffering from diabetes.
Diabetes is a condition characterised by raised levels of sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream. However, including starchy (and sometimes sugary) foods such as these in the diet will likely worsen blood sugar control (compared to a diet lower or devoid of these foods), thereby increasing the need for medication and enhancing risk of complications. It should also be pointed out that, overall, low-carbohydrate diets are significantly more effective than higher carbohydrate, lower-fat diets for weight loss (the evidence is comprehensively reviewed in my latest book Escape the Diet Trap).
Low-carbohydrate eating is not a magic pill, but in practice countless individuals have found it to be highly effective for controlling blood sugar levels and improving markers for disease. The usual accusation that such diets are high in fat, including ‘saturated’ fat that can cause heart disease (that diabetics are prone to).
The authors of a recent review concluded that “…there does not seem to be much use for fiber in colorectal diseases”, adding that their desire was to “emphasize that what we have all been made to believe about fiber needs a second look. On 2nd March I had an email from someone telling me that he’d recently been approached by people in the street asking for donations to Diabetes UK. You are exactly right, I cant understand why diabetes UK and the NHS need to cling onto the starchy carbs mantra. The medical literature is full of studies that show a low-carb diet is an excellent strategy for reducing insulin spikes and controlling diabetic symptoms.
Diabetic friends of mine have been told to cut the sugar but have not been advised that carbohydrate can also raise blood sugar. Athletes have nutritionists brought up on conventional wisdom and that isn’t always the best!
Type 1 diabetes: caused by a failure of the body (actually, the pancreas) to secrete insulin – the chief hormone in the body responsible for keeping blood sugar levels in check. Type 2 diabetes: here there is often a lot of insulin in the body, but the problem is the body has become somewhat unresponsive to the effects of this hormone (insulin resistance).
In fact, Diabetes UK gives special mention to these named foods in its breakfast recommendations.
In amongst a whole raft of food and diet companies, you’ll see ‘Kelloggs’ (who make Sultana Bran and Special K) and ‘Shredded Wheat’. One study, for instance, found that a low-carbohydrate diet over 6 months allowed more than 95 per cent of type 2 diabetes to reduce or eliminate their medication entirely [2].

I’ve known many type 2 diabetic use this approach to return to a state where tests essentially show no evidence of diabetes.
Actually, there is good evidence that when carbohydrate is cut from the diet, while the percentage of fat increases in the diet, the absolute amount of fat in the diet stays about the same (in other words, those switching to low-carb eating don’t generally eat more fat as a result) [3-6]. Again, no association was found between saturated fat and heart disease. This review also included a meta-analysis of intervention studies in which the effects of low-fat diets (these usually target saturated fat specifically) were assessed.
On the other hand, the other main form of fibre – ‘soluble’ fibre – tends to improve bowel symptoms such as constipation and abdominal discomfort [11]. For example, studies show supplementing the diet with fibre does not reduce the risk of cancerous tumours or pre-cancerous lesions [12-14]. I spend every day trying to keep my blood sugar stable and it became clear to me many years ago that the best method was by minimising my carbohydrate intake which would keep my insulin requirements low too. It became clear to me many years ago that the best method was by minimising my carbohydrate intake which would keep my insulin requirements low too. I was not impressed by the Diabetes UK speaker who didn’t seem to know the difference between hypo- and hyperglycaemia. The advice being given by many health care professionals is damaging the health and outlooks for thousands of type 2 diabetics. Sometimes, type 2 diabetics can have difficulty secreting enough insulin as a result of what is sometimes termed ‘pancreatic exhaustion’. Lower fat diets were not found to reduce the risk of either heart attack or risk of death due to heart disease. His enquiries reveal that Diabetes UK sanctions this approach and discourages the elimination of any food group from the diet.
Dietary carbohydrate restriction in type 2 diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome: time for a critical appraisal.
The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus. A low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-fat diet to treat obesity and hyperlipidemia. Comparison of the Atkins, Ornish, WeightWatchers, and Zone Diets for weight loss and heart disease risk reduction.
Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN diets for change in weight and related risk factors among over- weight premenopausal women.

A Systematic Review of the Evidence Supporting a Causal Link Between Dietary Factors and Coronary Heart Disease.
Dietary fat and coronary heart disease: summary of evidence from prospective and randomised controlled trials. I wanted to hear the Diabetes UK lady say they would bring you onto their panel of medical advisers and between you you can arrive at a SINGLE OPINION based on the SAME EVIDENCE.
I believe that a low carb diet should be recommended not just for diabetics, but for everyone. We can see from this that many of the foods Diabetes UK recommend for diabetics are about as disruptive for blood sugar as eating sugar itself. The western diet is filled with carbohydrates which started when we first became farmers and our bodies have not been able to adapt in this relatively short time.
Changing to a low to moderate carb diet has now got my blood sugars back to nearly those of a non diabetic person within 3 months and I’ve lost over two stone in weight.
Up to today i am 3st lighter and my recorded HbA1c are down in the 6`s which i know isnt the best it could be but i was up in the double figuers at one point. We are designed for mostly meat eating with the addition of a few berries, nuts and leafy vegetables and the odd root.
I know I’m not cured as I cannot eat a normal amount of carbs but I feel great and back in control of my life for the first time in over two years. Sadly, in my view, it’s a message that is consistent with the wrong-headed and potentially dangerous dietary advice that this charity dishes out generally. Sadly it much easier for DUK and others to listen to the might of the vested interests of the food companies than the experience of many 1000s of actual sufferers. Seems to be Diabetes UK and the NHS is just stuck in 40 year old dogma rather than using research done in the 21st century. Look at the piles of pasta consumed by athletes – and they have the best nutritional advice available.

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