Ketone supplement drinks help diabetics control blood sugar, study finds
03/06/2018 // Edsel Cook // Views

Here's one scientifically-proven health benefit if you chug down a glass of that gross keto drink: The Daily Mail reported the results of a British-Canadian study where ketone supplements could help diabetics rein in their uncontrollable blood sugar levels.

The controversial ketogenic diet eschewed carbohydrate intake for proteins and fat. It has won loyal adherents among celebrities like Kim Kardashian who can tolerate the disgusting taste of a sardine smoothie.

Now, a joint study by researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Oxford University (Oxford) announced that keto supplements caused blood sugar levels to go down. Their findings suggested a keto diet might be able to regulate blood sugar spikes (the bane of any diabetic) and prevent the disease from emerging in the first place.

Their discovery coincided with those from another experiment where ketones were directly injected into the bloodstream. The blood sugar levels of test subjects went down following the ketone infusion. This is good news for diabetes patients who are at risk of heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failures because their insulin-deficient systems cannot reduce their glucose levels fast enough.

According to diabetes specialists, the digestive system breaks carbohydrates down into glucose. This particular sugar molecule requires insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, in order to be further broken down into usable energy.

Happily for diabetics, ketogenic diets promote the consumption of proteins and healthy fats. It might seem counter-intuitive for a diabetic to eat lots of fat, given the links between the disease and obesity. (Related: Greens, legumes and unsaturated fats: How to reverse diabetes with food.)


Why do they call them keto diets?

Ketones are an alternative energy source to glucose. They're the by-products of the liver breaking down fatty acids in the absence of carbohydrates. They lend their names to diets that encourage the exclusive consumption of food rich in fatty acids such as avocados, nuts, and salmon.

The UBC-Oxford research team investigated the effects of ketone-rich drinks on glucose levels. The researchers deliberately picked healthy and young subjects instead of diabetics because the latter suffered from various complications that would complicate the analysis. "If the same responses were seen in people with, or at risk for, type-2 diabetes, then it is possible that a ketone monoester supplement could be used to lower glucose levels and improve metabolic health," explained Dr. Jonathan Little, the co-author of the study.

Under the auspices of their joint study, 20 participants undertook a 10-hour fast before consuming two servings of either a ketone supplement or a placebo. After 30 minutes, each volunteer underwent a standard glucose tolerance test by imbibing a sweet drink with 75 grams of sugar.

The researchers collected blood from each individual every 15 to 30 minutes for a two-and-a-half hour period after that. They analyzed the glucose, blood fat, and hormone levels in each sample. According to them, the participants who drank the ketone supplement enjoyed fewer blood sugar spikes compared to the ones who merely got a placebo.

Dr. Little said the results are very promising for the 3.5 million people in the United Kingdom who suffer from type-2 diabetes, not to mention the millions of other diabetics around the world.

The purest forms of ketones are called ketone monoesters. These compounds can be used much more quickly by the body.

The joint research team believed ketone monoesters can raise blood ketone levels even faster than normal ketones. They are developing a ketone monoester-based supplement that could deliver the benefits of a keto diet.

Adverse effects of the diet include impaired growth, which can be caused by a nutrient deficiency, as well as an increased risk of getting kidney stones.

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