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Low-carb diet may reduce the risk of several serious complications among diabetics

Category: Diabetes

Following a positive HbA1c test for type 2 diabetes, an individual may be at an elevated risk of experiencing several complications associated with their condition. Diseases of the eyes, kidneys, liver and muscles are all common side effects of diabetes. This is why doctors regularly recommend that patients with the condition take steps to improve their control over their metabolic condition.

Evidence is emerging that consuming a low-carb diet may be one of the best ways for diabetics to avoid these complications and take better care of their condition. Several recent studies have shown that it may help improve the function of several organs associated with diabetes.

For example, a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that a low-carb diet is the quickest way for diabetics to eliminate fatty buildups in the liver that may contribute to diseases of the organ.

Buildups of fat in the liver, known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD, are common in individuals with type 2 diabetes. They are caused by years of consuming a high-fat diet. NAFLD can be a dangerous condition because excessive amounts of fat in the organ can cause scarring that may eventually impair the functioning of the liver. Once this happens, a liver transplant is often necessary.

However, a low-carb diet may help diabetics avoid this condition. For the study, researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center assigned 18 participants who already suffered from NAFLD to either a low-carb or low-calorie diet. After a period of 14 days, the researchers used imaging technology to examine the participants' livers for signs of fat.

The results showed that participants in the low-carb group had significantly less fat in their liver than individuals in the low-calorie group. Additionally, these people lost an average of 10 pounds, which was more than the participants on restricted calorie diets.

The researchers warned, however, that the short-term nature of the study makes extrapolating their findings difficult. They said that the most important thing for individuals NAFLD to keep in mind is that losing weight, regardless of the method, will improve their condition. Low-carb diets just appear to be the quickest way to start the weight loss process.

"Our approach is likely to be only of short-term benefit because at some point the benefits of weight loss alone trounce any benefits derived from manipulating dietary macronutrients such as calories and carbohydrates," said Jeffery Browning, who led the investigation.

A second study into the effects of low-carb diets found similar benefits for diabetics with impaired kidney function. This condition is one of the most common among diabetics and can lead to kidney failure, which forces individuals to live their lives on dialysis or seek a kidney transplant, which can be dangerous.

Researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine reported in the journal Public Library of Science ONE that diabetic mice with impaired kidney function were able to avoid kidney failure after starting a low-carb diet.

Charles Mobb, who led the investigation, said that the findings could give hope to millions of people with impaired kidney function who thought that organ failure was in their future.

"Our study is the first to show that a dietary intervention alone is enough to reverse this serious complication of diabetes," he said. "This finding has significant implications for the tens of thousands of Americans diagnosed with diabetic kidney failure, and possibly other complications, each year."

Taken collectively, these findings show that simple dietary alterations may be enough to help individuals with diabetes avoid potentially serious health complications. These results could help millions of people make major improvements in their health.

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