A recent article published on Sciencedaily.com (Science Daily) presents the findings of a scientific study conducted by the Faculty of Science at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. The study found that patients with type 2 diabetes can improve their ability to regulate blood sugar by adopting “a diet with a reduced carbohydrate content and an increased share of protein and fat.”
If a study like this is to be used in re-evaluating general recommendations, in this case, dietary guidelines for type 2 diabetics, we must consider the following:
The study was mainly funded by Arla Food and Novo Nordisk. Arla is the largest dairy producer (i.e. protein and fat) in Scandinavia and Novo Nordisk is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world with their key products being medications and devices for diabetes. Clearly, this brings into question the integrity and authenticity of the study.
The study focuses only on manipulating macronutrients, i.e. protein, fat and carbohydrates. What we already know is that by adopting an overall well-balanced diet of minimally processed whole foods, together with changing other lifestyle factors such as getting regular exercise, limiting alcohol consumption, quitting smoking and other drugs, practicing mindfulness and managing stress levels, we can very well manage the condition and in some cases, reverse it.
Management, rather than reversal
Usually, when a person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the focus immediately turns to managing the disease for the rest of their life. However, although still considered somewhat controversial, emerging research points to the possibility of completely reversing type 2 diabetes. If this is possible, should we not shift our focus in our scientific studies?
Carbohydrates alone, is a major topic that requires careful consideration. For one, carbohydrates are our bodies’ preferred source of fuel, i.e. energy. Manipulating our intake can have other unintended consequences that we need to be aware of.
Moreover, there are different types of carbohydrates, many of which are processed and contribute to spikes in blood sugar levels. Unfortunately, simple and processed carbohydrates are a staple part of most people’s diets and so it goes without saying that limiting your intake of those will aid in regulating blood sugar levels.
There is no one-size-fits-all magic diet
Obviously, these studies are essential and incredibly important in the treatment of diseases however, everyone’s body responds differently to different types of foods. At the same time, many studies have conflicting recommendations and so we must recognize that there is no single best diet when managing our health.
Guidelines are just that – guidelines
The problem with general guidelines is that they are seldom followed, particularly when it requires people to make significant changes to their diet and/or lifestyle. Without help, for most people this is almost impossible. So, before we think about changing the general recommendations, should we not think about how to best help people adopt the current guidelines?
So, what can we conclude from this? While scientists continue to conduct research to find answers, we can make better choices based on what we already know. For one, that our diet and other lifestyle factors can have a profound impact on our health. So, if our health is a key concern for us, then we must choose our diet and lifestyle carefully.