A very low-carbohydrate diet can help improve blood sugar control in people with type 1 diabetes without significantly raising the risk for hypoglycemia or other complications, suggests an online patient survey conducted by researchers at Boston Children's Hospital.
The survey involved 138 people from a Facebook community called TypeOneGrit, a group of people with type 1 diabetes who are committed to following a very low-carb diet as recommended in the book Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution, by Richard Bernstein, M.D., a co-author of the study. Survey participants, 42 percent of whom were children and adolescents, reported an average daily carb intake of 36 grams – about 5 percent of their total calories. The American Diabetes Association recommends that about 45 percent of total daily calories come from carbohydrates.
The researchers confirmed the participants’ type 1 diabetes diagnoses, blood sugar and other metabolic levels, and other measurements (triglycerides and HDL, for example) with health care providers or by reviewing medical records. The primary measurement of blood sugar control – A1c – was self-reported and averaged in the normal range (about 5.67 percent).
Very low-carb diets for controlling type 1 diabetes are controversial amid concerns about dangerous hypoglycemia. Although more than 80 percent of those responding to this survey reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their diabetes management, about a quarter of them said they had not discussed their very low-carb diet with their diabetes care team.