Defeat Diabetes

Latest science: Low carb diet kicks kidney disease to the curb

2 mins read

Take a look at the most recent results from our 2023 member survey to see just how much impact Defeat Diabetes is making!

  • People with type 2 diabetes are at significantly increased risk of chronic kidney disease.
  • Evidence suggests that low carbohydrate diets for people with type 2 diabetes may improve many renal and cardiovascular risk factors.
  • Improving hyperglycaemia for those with type 2 diabetes is the key to avoiding chronic kidney disease. Reducing carbohydrates is an effective way to do this.

Recent data from a real-world study in the UK, led by Dr David Unwin, has found that individuals with type 2 diabetes who follow a low carb diet can significantly improve their kidney function.

Why was this study important?

While there is substantial evidence to support the use of a low carbohydrate or ‘keto’ diet for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, researchers have been left wondering if the subsequent increase of dietary protein in this type of diet may promote renal damage.

There’s a further debate that low carb diets themselves may increase the risk of cardiovascular complications, so the researchers undertook a seven-year study in a primary care setting to thoroughly investigate the impact of a low carb diet in people with type 2 diabetes.

What did the study involve?

The study involved a team of clinicians assessing 143 adults with type 2 diabetes (with an average age of 61 years) who had followed a low carb diet for more than two years. The diet aimed to improve blood sugars by reducing sugary and starchy foods like bread, potatoes, and rice and replacing them with green leafy vegetables, full-fat dairy, eggs, non-processed meat, fish, berries, and nuts. This diet followed the principles we advocate in the Defeat Diabetes program.

What did the study find?

Instead of the expected deterioration in kidney function (because of age and diabetes), they found the opposite—most participants improved their renal performance after following a low-carbohydrate (higher fat and protein) diet. Therefore, the evidence suggests that low-carbohydrate diets for people with type 2 diabetes may improve many renal and cardiovascular risk factors.

Over 30 months, participants improved their serum creatinine, lost an average of 9.5kg, and saw significant improvement in HBa1C levels. Blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels also improved significantly. Overall, 97% of the participants improved their diabetic control, with 47% achieving drug-free type 2 diabetes remission.

We’re not surprised by the results, especially when, in our 2023 survey, 2 in 3 Defeat Diabetes members reported returning their blood glucose levels to the non-diabetes range and 92% lost weight after following the program.

Why does it matter?

The findings are significant to the medical world. As a result, Dr Unwin has even discredited previous reports claiming that high protein intake promotes renal damage and that low carb diets may increase the risk of cardiovascular complications.

The results are cause for celebration. Those with type 2 diabetes who follow a low carb diet can improve kidney function, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels through diet alone.

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