We recently reported on research showing that low-carbohydrate diets have benefits for Type 2 diabetes and heart health. Now, a new study from researchers in Sweden indicates that this dietary approach can also improve quality of life for people with Type 2, a condition that affects approximately 26 million people in the United States.
To compare the health-related quality-of-life impacts of different diets, investigators from LinkÃ¶ping University randomly divided 61 people with Type 2 diabetes into two groups. Those in the low-carbohydrate-diet group were assigned to follow a meal plan consisting of 50% fat, 30% protein, and 20% carbohydrate for the two-year study period; those in the low-fat-diet group were assigned to follow a meal plan consisting of 30% fat (less than 10% saturated), 10–15% protein, and 55–60% carbohydrate for the duration of the study. The participants’ health-related quality of life was analyzed using a 36-question survey at the start of the study and at 6, 12, and 24 months into the research.
Interviews with the participants found that it was difficult to stick with either of the diets when all members of a household were not following the same eating plan or when eating somewhere other than at home. On the positive side, study subjects described the low-fat diet as relatively inexpensive and tasty and the low-carbohydrate diet as helpful for suppressing appetite and reducing cravings for sweets.
Analyzing the participants’ survey responses after 12 months in the trial, the researchers found that the low-carbohydrate-diet group reported improvements in physical functions, bodily pain, and general health. Despite losing the same amount of weight as those in the low-carbohydrate-diet group, no such improvements were seen in participants assigned to the low-fat-diet group.
“The result is interesting; it provides an additional argument that a low-carbohydrate diet is beneficial in diabetes. We also found no adverse effects on mental health with the low-carbohydrate diet, which an earlier study had indicated,” noted study author Hans Guldbrand, MD, PhD.
For more information, read the article “Low-carbohydrate diet improved quality of life in diabetes patients in study” or see the study in the journal Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. And to learn more about the role of carbohydrate restriction in diabetes management, see this piece by certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian Franziska Spritzler.