What diabetics need to know about the keto diet before trying it
02/24/2019 // Ellaine Castillo // Views

The ketogenic or keto diet has gained much attention all over the world due to its supposed weight loss benefits. People who follow this diet limit their carbohydrate intake while increasing their consumption of dietary fats. Because of this, the body shifts from burning glucose from carbs as its energy source to using ketones from fat deposits. This process is known as ketosis. The strict restriction of dietary carbs could also help diabetics maintain healthy blood sugar levels. However, a state of ketosis isn't always beneficial and there are many risks to consider before choosing to follow this diet.

To further understand how the keto diet helps with blood sugar, it is important to know about insulin resistance. This condition is commonly observed in patients with diabetes, or even those with pre-diabetes. It is a condition wherein the cells in the body become resistant to the hormone insulin, which is responsible for the uptake of sugars from the bloodstream and into the cells. This often results from excess body weight, too much belly fat, physical inactivity, smoking, and inadequate sleep. Although the body tries to make up for insulin resistance by increasing the production of insulin, it becomes harder for the cells that synthesize this hormone to keep up as a person's condition worsens.

Fortunately, the keto diet has the potential to restore insulin sensitivity. It works by fixing the metabolic pathways that regulate insulin levels in the body. This means that after a time of mild ketosis, instead of having high insulin levels, a person will become more reliant on ketone bodies. Moreover, the ability of the keto diet to promote weight loss and improve fat percentage reduces the risk of developing diabetes and pre-diabetes.


Possible risks of the keto diet for diabetics

Although the keto diet is generally beneficial for patients with diabetes and pre-diabetes, there are also some risks associated with this program. Moreover, the dietary plan that can get one person into ketosis might not work for other people. So, before following the keto diet, make sure that you consider the following risks:

  • Extremely low blood sugar levels -- Following the keto diet can cause a person's blood sugar levels to become dangerously low. This condition called hypoglycemia can cause symptoms like an irregular heartbeat, fatigue, anxiety and irritability, abnormal behavior, seizures, visual disturbances, and loss of consciousness.
  • Cognitive problems -- For some diabetics, a keto diet can cause headaches, fatigue, brain fog, and a feeling of slowness. Having these cognitive symptoms could mean that the person is suffering from a temporary condition known as the keto flu. Usually, this lasts for just a week or two. However, if it lasts beyond that, make sure to go see a healthcare professional.
  • Fluid imbalance -- Including more protein in your diet can make things a bit harder for your kidneys. These organs start to excrete more water instead of retaining them. This results in the excretion of important electrolytes that are involved in muscle contractions, heartbeat regulation, bladder control, energy production, body temperature control, and neurological functions.
  • Constipation -- Since the keto diet is low in carbs and fiber, it could negatively affect a person's digestion and make them constipated. Fortunately, this symptom can be combated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Muscle cramps -- Electrolyte imbalance caused by the keto diet can lead to short- or long-term muscle cramping. (Related: Homemade Electrolyte Drink- Best For Stomach Flu, Rehydration and Refuel Body.)
  • Ketoacidosis -- This condition is one of the most severe side effects of the keto diet. It occurs when there is too much glucose in the body due to a lack of insulin. To prevent this from happening, make sure to keep track of your glucose levels and keep it within 60 to 130 mg/dL. If you experience ketoacidosis symptoms like dry mouth, frequent urination, nausea, and breathing problems, seek medical attention immediately.

Keto-friendly foods that help improve blood sugar levels

If you've considered the risks of a keto diet for diabetics and still decide to follow it, here are some keto-friendly foods that are beneficial for your condition:

  • Grass-fed beef, chicken, and pork
  • Eggs
  • Wild-caught seafood
  • Coconut, avocado, and olive oil
  • Berries
  • Almonds and nuts
  • Low-carb vegetables like cauliflower, kale, and zucchini

Read more news articles on natural ways to improve blood sugar levels by visiting DiabetesScienceNews.com.

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