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Reverse Type 2 Diabetes with a LCHF diet. Is this a myth?

Discussion in 'Ask A Question' started by Little Bird, Nov 23, 2019.

  1. Little Bird

    Little Bird · Well-Known Member

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    Hello Everyone,

    I’m new here having been recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I've been reading the forums on here and there are some very positive and encouraging stories but I’m finding that some of it is actually leaving me with more questions than answers so I’m hoping that some of you can help me out.

    It came as quite a shock to me as there is no diabetes in my family and I really didn’t know much about it so I started reading up and learning about diabetes. I read about Michael Mosley's Blood Sugar Diet, the Newcastle Diet, Dr Unwins Low Carb diet and lots and lots other stuff.

    Here is what I have learned. High blood sugar is dangerous as it damages nerves increases risk of heart disease, strokes and a whole host of other nasties. Because of this the body regulates blood sugar levels. You eat carbs, blood sugar rises and then the pancreas releases insulin which brings the blood sugar levels down. This is the normal i.e. non-diabetic state of things. However, in diabetics this doesn’t happen because either the pancreas cannot produce insulin which is Type 1 diabetes, or insulin production is reduced and/or the cells have become unresponsive to insulin, i.e. insulin resistant as a result of fat deposits in the liver and pancreas, which is the case with Type 2 diabetes. (How am I doing so far?) In either case the common feature is an abnormal insulin response to carbohydrates, or a sensitivity to carbs.

    The other thing I have learned is that if you follow certain diets, very low calorie or low carb high fat keto diets, you can lose weight and reverse Type 2 diabetes. Which sounds great except I’m not completely convinced of this by anything I have read so far here or elsewhere.

    I have read many wonderful testimonials of people reducing their blood sugars and coming off medication with low carb/keto diets, sometimes after many years! This is fantastic of course but what is puzzling me is that many of those same people also say that if they then turn round and eat carbs their blood sugar spikes, sometimes quite spectacularly! So then how is their diabetes reversed? Surely reversal, or remission, of diabetes would mean that your insulin response has returned to normal, at least for Type 2 diabetics.

    Obviously if you have Type 2 as a result of poor dietary choices and you then reverse it through a low carb/keto plan, if you then return to that original diet that caused the diabetes in the first place you would sooner or later end up back in the same place. However, what I seem to be seeing is that many people following LC/keto are having dangerous spikes even after just one carbohydrate meal. So then what has their diabetes been reversed to? Not normal, since a normal response would mean an insulin response to bring down the high blood sugar as with a non-diabetic surely? At least in the short term. Surely true reversal would be mean being able to eat a normal diet as long as it is healthy and devoid of the junk that caused it.

    It seems very clear that following a LC/keto approach can reverse blood sugar levels very effectively indeed, and this is wonderful of course. However that is distinct from reversal of diabetes since if you still have an abnormal response to eating carbs, or are carb sensitive in any way, then surely you are still diabetic? Would it be more accurate to say that LC/Keto diets are great at controlling diabetes rather than reversing it?

    If this is so then it is obviously a good thing, as good blood sugar control and diabetes management can have a massive impact on health by preventing many of the complications that go with diabetes. That’s great, but my issue is that it is misleading to say that such a diet can reverse diabetes if it cannot return you to a non-diabetic state without lifelong commitment to that diet. If you ordinarily love eating LC/keto then there is no problem of course but many different people for many different reasons don’t want to or are unable to commit to eating such a diet for the rest of their lives. To be told you have to choose between eating a diet you don’t like, for whatever reason, for the rest of your life or suffer the consequences is, for some, still a life dictated by diabetes! LC/Keto maybe be freedom for some but for others it is just a different type of shackle.

    So is it really possible to truly reverse diabetes to normal without a strict lifelong commitment to low carb eating?

    I would really love to hear other peoples views and thoughts on this.
     
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  2. ert

    ert Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Personally, my analogy is that if you're allergic to nuts, you don't eat them. If your body can't process carbohydrates, don't eat them. That's why I'm on a keto diet, even on insulin.
     
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  3. bulkbiker

    bulkbiker Type 2 · Master

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    Hi @Little Bird

    A set of interesting questions indeed.

    You do however seem to have fallen for the fallacy that a high carbohydrate diet is the "natural" way of eating for human beings. In the millions of years pre-agriculture its pretty unlikely that man ate a high carb diet (grains after all being grasses) so even a moderate carb diet is a relatively new concept and I'd hazard a guess that we as animals are not designed to eat this way.

    In the past 50 years our carbohydrate consumption, along with the heavily processed nature of these carbs, has increased hugely along with the increases in obesity and T2 diabetes. This is partially due to the "fat is dangerous" mantra that has been beaten into us by the "authorities". We have completely changed how we eat and are now suffering the consequences unfortunately.
     
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  4. Rachox

    Rachox Type 2 (in remission!) · Moderator
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    Hi Little Bird and welcome to the forum. First let me post our useful info post which we provide for newbies:
    https://www.diabetes.co.uk/forum/threads/basic-information-for-newly-diagnosed-diabetics.17088/
    I eat a low carb diet and have done for the last 2 and a half years since I was diagnosed with type 2. I have lost a shed load of weight (easily) and now run non diabetic blood sugars and HbA1cs. I have ‘in remission’ here under my avatar as that’s the closest to my current state available here. However I like to describe myself as ‘well controlled’. Yes I do have to eat this way for ever but I have found foods I enjoy and I’d rather do that than suffer the consequences. It’s the same as @ert says, if you’re allergic to nuts you don’t eat them, similarly if you have coeliac you don’t eat gluten, I don’t see it as any different.
     
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  5. TriciaWs

    TriciaWs Type 2 (in remission!) · Well-Known Member

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    I was diagnosed as prediabetic a while ago, went low carb and my blood sugars dropped fast. All was great at the 6 month tests. But I gradually slipped back into old eating habits and a couple of years later I was diabetic.
    This time around I found my blood sugars dropped fast again, and even the early morning tests were consistently within range by 3 months on 85g a day.
    I could eat carbs for a day, maybe a week, maybe longer, but I'm not going to risk it. The only change I made after a year of good results was to increase the maximum amount of carbs I will eat in a day, so I can eat out without panicking there is nothing on the menu. But I only go up to 130g, and most days stay under 100g.
     
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  6. Little Bird

    Little Bird · Well-Known Member

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    Hello Everyone,

    Thank you for welcoming me to the forum and thank you for your views on this.

    It's great to hear how positively people are dealing with diabetes.

    I’m still not sure this really answers the question can low carb reverse diabetes?

    I get the nuts coeliac analogy but surely the same thing is applicable? You can manage/control allergies and the like with careful dietary adherence but can these conditions be reversed without lifelong dietary control. As I said my issue is with the term reversal. If you have to maintain a strict dietary control for life then surely that is control or maintenance rather than reversal? Reversal implies reverting to an earlier state.

    I find the question of how humans are biologically designed to eat a fascinating one. Indeed in pre-agrarian times humans would have been nomadic and would not have relied on grain as we do now. However evolution takes a very long time and the fact we have evolved a process for digesting carbs suggest we have been eating them for a very long time indeed. I agree that diabetes, obesity heart disease etc. is prevalent in a way that it was not in the past but do we really need to look as far back as Palaeolithic times for an answer? Would not a hundred or so years ago be enough when these modern day maladies were not prevalent like they are now? Many cultures across the world eat carbohydrate fibre based diets without the diabestiy crisis we are seeing here, that is until they adopt modern western diets which may be the real problem. Surely if all carbs even moderate fibre based carbs caused diabetes, obesity etc. then wouldn't these conditions would have been highly prevalent the world over for many centuries?

    I would love to hear more theories on this.
     
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  7. zand

    zand Type 2 · Expert

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    Why worry about theories? Try the LCHF lifestyle for yourself and see what happens.

    In the 70s I believed the theory that fat made us fat. That didn't get me anywhere (except to obesity and beyond).
     
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  8. KK123

    KK123 Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Well, this is an interesting post, thank you @Little Bird. I sometimes think that the problem lies in putting labels on things, ie a person is called a type 2 'diabetic' because their threshold for carbs is lower than another persons. I think of it more as one individual may not cope with carbs as much as the next person but does that mean they are deficient in some way or does it mean that their bodies (although normal) has a different threshold to those who can chuck anything down their neck and be fine? Is a person with higher cholesterol abnormal or is it that their bodies are simply reacting in a different way but still normally?

    I get that beyond a certain 'line' someone could be classed as having a 'condition' but I wonder how many of those people 'a 100 years ago' would indeed have had a glucose intolerance that was never, ever tested for? How many people might even have been diabetic back then if diagnosed by today's criteria but happily lived a 'normal' life completely unaware? Centuries ago people died before they were 50 so something was killing them off and I suspect it was a whole series of conditions for which there are medicines available now (antibiotics and so on).

    I think what I am saying is that today we are all focused on saying to a person 'You are this or that because your body is different to your neighbours' and yet there must be many variations between people (such as their levels of tolerance to carbs) and once a person finds their tolerance levels they are very much 'cured' because they didn't really have a flaw as such in the first place, just a different tolerance level. So, if they don't eat beyond that level then they are fine. Almost like a person who has an allergy to certain foods or creams etc, stop using them and you're back in the game.
     
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  9. lucylocket61

    lucylocket61 Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    For me and others I know, the answer is No.

    If we eat more carbs than our bodies can cope with, our blood sugars rise.

    I have accepted this, just as people accept gluten or lactose intolerance.

    I have change my diet and adapted it for the long term. So far, it's been over seven years for me.
     
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  10. Little Bird

    Little Bird · Well-Known Member

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    Hi again,

    Well that is sound advice Xand. One can only know what will work and how by trying something. Its great that you are doing well and happy with your diet.

    Also, I too hate labelling people and assuming there is something deficient or aberrant simply because one is different in some way. We should all embrace difference and diversity and refrain from trying to impose our views on others of course.

    Just for clarity I am neither criticising or advocating a HCLF diet or lifestyle. I think it is incontrovertible that such a diet is excellent for diabetes management. My issue is with the term reversal or remission from diabetes as I think it can lead to false hope. I suspect all here know how devastating a diabetes diagnosis can be and then if we are told we can reverse it that gives us hope for a life free of the dictates of diabetes. It’s the seeming offer of freedom that the term reversal implies that is problematic I feel. If the reversal is contingent upon lifetime adherence to a diet someone does not like or cannot follow for whatever reason they are still being dictated to by diabetes and that is not freedom. Perhaps it is better to say you can control your diabetes through carb restriction but not necessarily reverse it to an earlier state. Perhaps?
     
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  11. Little Bird

    Little Bird · Well-Known Member

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  12. Little Bird

    Little Bird · Well-Known Member

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    Hi Lucielocket61 (great name by the way!) Its great that yours blood sugars are under control and you are happy, but my question is, if you still react to carbohydrates with a high spike then have you reversed your diabetes or are you controlling it with your diet? Either way sounds like your doing great!
     
  13. bulkbiker

    bulkbiker Type 2 · Master

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    To be honest hardly anyone in the "medical" world uses the term reversal . They mostly talk about "remission" which is probably more representative.

    I have undergone almost every test imaginable. OGTT, HbA1c and IR testing and apart from something described as "mild IR" I have been "non diabetic for all. However does that mean I desire to revert to eating the stuff I now regard as "poison" ... well the answer is obviously no.

    So whether remission, reversal or cure is your aim I'll leave you with... a mild dose of arsenic will still make you ill...
     
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  14. Hotpepper20000

    Hotpepper20000 · Well-Known Member

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    For me there’s has not been a reversal even with 60 pounds of weight loss. Any grains spike my blood sugar to the double digits.
    LCHF or for some, Keto, is not just about blood sugar management.
    It’s about quality of life.
    Clearer thinking, healthier skin and hair, more energy, and all round more positive attitude.
    It’s irrelevant if I have achieved reversal. There are many other benefits to this way of eating.
     
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    #14 Hotpepper20000, Nov 23, 2019 at 2:24 PM
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2019
  15. Little Bird

    Little Bird · Well-Known Member

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  16. DCUKMod

    DCUKMod I reversed my Type 2 · Master
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    @Little Bird - I will say very little about reversal and exactly what I believe as whilst I accept labels can be convenient, I am not a label and I don't wear them well.

    Out there, in the live, there are lucky people wearing the T2 label who have largely avoided acknowledging it, never mind trying to manage it, with no apparent signs of damage, then we have folks who immediately rein in their T2, to serially non-diabetic numbers, living a healthy life (trim, active and eating to their meter) who suffer a catastrophic health event, whilst playing golf. In that example, I have in mind a very dear friend of ours.

    When folks join up here and immediately talk of reversing/getting into remission or curing themselves of T2, I usually suggest they do the best they can, with a regime they can maintain, and see where it gets them.

    Whilst some would have us believe T2 is a simple condition, it really isn't. No single size fits all, and where individuals set themselves up to reverse (or whatever they choose to call it), then can't quite get there, they are disappointed and oftentimes fall by the wayside.

    Nobody, even in their fully healthy times is perfect. Perfection is a personally applied stick, with which we cab beat ourselves.

    I got very fortunate with my T2 and have found myself, after a period of heavy investment in my health, with very good A1c results (last one was 27), but will I be able to maintain that forever? I have no idea. Something might fail in my body. I could suffer psychological burnout, or indeed, my Endo might be correct and I find myself with LADA, which he describes as a sneaky devil.

    That said, I'll keep doing my best, for me, living in and contributing to my family and social circle in the best way I can. If something undesirable befalls me? Well, I'll just have to crack on and deal with it as best I can.

    You've talked a bit about your research and thinking, but you haven't expressed, as far as I have read, so far, what progress or frustrations you have met in your personal journey. It would be good to hear.
     
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  17. Little Bird

    Little Bird · Well-Known Member

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    Apologies zand i spelt your name incorrectly
     
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  18. Little Bird

    Little Bird · Well-Known Member

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  19. Little Bird

    Little Bird · Well-Known Member

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  20. Brunneria

    Brunneria Other · Moderator
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    Hi and welcome @Little Bird

    I haven’t seen you actually define what you consider ‘reversal’ to be. There is quite a lot of disagreement about the criteria needed to make a ‘reversal’ claim (blood glucose test results, duration, permitted/not permitted medication). And a huge amount of discussion across numerous threads here on the forum and elsewhere, with a whole range of opinion.
     
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