While it will take the American Diabetes Association (ADA) a couple of decades to catch up to functional medicine, their new recommendations are finally advising people with diabetes to eat a lower carbohydrate diet.
Functional medicine practitioners have long known the damaging effects of high carb consumption not only on blood sugar, but also on chronic inflammatory disorders, weight, hormonal balance, and brain function.
High blood sugar disorders such as type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, or pre-diabetes, not only make you feel worse, they also significantly raise your risk of numerous chronic health disorders, including heart disease, stroke, autoimmune disease, and Alzheimer’s. Because high blood sugar causes so much damage to the brain, some researchers call Alzheimer’s type 3 diabetes.
While it’s encouraging that such a large and official organization is finally making dietary recommendations to stabilize blood sugar, their list of recommended foods is still troublesome. Some foods on the ADA list have been shown to trigger autoimmune attacks on the pancreas, making type 1 diabetes worse and increasing the risk of developing autoimmune diabetes in people with type 2 diabetes, a disease influenced by lifestyle habits.
The ADA’s new recommendations for carbohydrate consumption
Thinking that people would not get enough nutrients, the ADA previously advised against diets under 130 grams of carbohydrates per day. They also stated the brain requires more than 130 grams a day of carbohydrates a day to get the energy it needs.
However, after seeing that lower carb diets not only reduce the need for insulin but also lower heart-disease risk, the ADA adjusted its recommendations in favor of a lower carb diet.
This new recommendation is based on findings that show great health benefits of a low-carb diet over a low-fat diet. However, it also affirms that there is no “one-size-fits-all” dietary recommendation that should be applied to every patient.
For example, they do not recommend a low-carb diet for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, people who have eating disorders or are at risk of developing eating disorders, people with kidney disease, and for those taking SGLT2 inhibitor medication.
ADA guidelines on low-glycemic foods fail to consider foods that trigger autoimmune attacks
It’s good to see the ADA moving in the right direction by acknowledging the vast amounts of research and the numerous case studies that link lower carb diets with better health.
However, they still don’t recognize the science which shows how some low-glycemic foods that the ADA still recommends trigger autoimmune attacks on cells that cause type 1 diabetes.
Gluten and dairy are the most prevalent triggers, but there are other foods that cross-react with cells involved in type 1 diabetes. While this doesn’t meant that these foods trigger an autoimmune attack in all people, the research shows that certain foods can raise the risk of exacerbating autoimmune diabetes.
It is critically important for those with type 1 diabetes to be aware of which foods may trigger autoimmune attacks that worsen their condition. You can screen for these foods with testing from Cyrex Labs.
Even for those who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which is lifestyle induced, 10-20 percent also have undiagnosed type 1 diabetes, which is referred to as type 1.5 diabetes.
Should you go on a low-carb diet?
Many Americans are eating more processed carbohydrates than the human body is designed to handle. This has contributed to rising incidences of inflammatory disorders related to high blood sugar which are over burdening the healthcare system – diabetes, obesity, heart disease, chronic pain, depression, dementia, and neurodegenerative diseases just to name a few.
Once again, this is not to say that every person should be on the same diet. For some, a very low-carb ketogenic diet is highly beneficial. For others, such as those with compromised brain function that has caused dysregulated metabolic and neurological function, a ketogenic diet can be disastrous.
It can take some trial and error to find your optimal carbohydrate consumption. Given that, it’s a safe assumption that you would benefit from avoiding sugar, high fructose corn syrup, processed carbohydrates, and industrial oils. Instead, bulk up your diet with a diverse array of ever rotating vegetables and fruits (just be careful not to overconsume the fruit), and healthy fats and proteins.
In addition, get daily physical activity, time outdoors, and healthy social interaction to round out your healthy routine.
Contact my office to learn more about customizing a diet and lifestyle plan designed just for you.
Here are some additional links about diabetes: