Researchers: Type 2 diabetes can be addressed with a low-carb diet paired with high protein and high unsaturated fats
04/04/2024 // Mary Villareal // Views

Health professionals remain divided over the best approach for managing Type 2 diabetes. However, Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council's (NH&MRC) research showed that the best approach is a diet that incorporates low carbohydrates, high protein and high unsaturated fats.

Associate Professor Grant Brinkworth, a principal research scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), said the research results are groundbreaking. The most amazing benefit of the low carbohydrate diet was the reduction in medication levels, with some study participants ceasing their medications altogether.

"This research shows that traditional dietary approaches for managing Type 2 diabetes could be outdated," he said. "We really need to review the current dietary guidelines if we are serious about using the latest scientific evidence to reduce the impact of the disease."

The research was a collaboration between CSIRO, the University of AdelaideFlinders University and the University of South Australia, with an exercise program made in partnership with community fitness centers. (Related: Natural Diabetes Health: Ten Tips for Living with Type 2 Diabetes.)

Campbell Thompson, a professor from Adelaide University, said there were other insights regarding the clinical outcomes of the study. He said the low carbohydrate diet presented greater improvements in the blood cholesterol profile.

Carbohydrates, protein and fat are among the main macronutrients that the body needs. However, unlike carbohydrates and protein, fat does not directly raise blood sugar levels, whether or not we have diabetes. Fat is still necessary for the body to gain energy, keep the hair and skin healthy, and even help cells to function properly.

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Fat can be found in different foods and dairy products. Good fat has been used to describe unsaturated fats found in oily fish, avocados and nuts. While the labels good and bad fats simplify these terms, research about which fats are good or bad remains debatable.

The low-fat approach for Type 2 diabetes has been strongly recommended. However, low-fat diets often require high amounts of carbohydrates in the diet, leading to the overproduction of insulin.

Unsaturated fat from nuts and avocados helps increase good cholesterol levels, which is key in helping remove bad cholesterol from healed artery walls to the liver, therefore helping prevent bad cholesterol from blocking the arteries.

Type 2 diabetes among the greatest global health challenges

Obesity remains one of the major risk factors for Type 2 diabetes. Given the increase in obesity and sedentary lifestyles, it seems that the world is looking at an onslaught of the disease.

In Australia, an estimated 800,000 adults have Type 2 diabetes, many of whom are undiagnosed. Based on the findings from the study, implementing a lifestyle program that incorporates this effective low carbohydrate, high protein, high unsaturated fat diet can save Australia around AU$200 million ($131.7 million) annually through the reduction in diabetes-related medication expenditure.

The creation of a proper meal plan for Type 2 diabetics should include complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, whole wheat, oatmeal and fruits with a low glycemic index. It should also include beans, vegetables and lentils.

Type 2 diabetics should avoid simple carbohydrates such as processed sugar, pasta, white bread, flour, cookies and pastries.

Fats don't have much direct effect on blood sugar. However, they can be useful in the slowing absorption of carbohydrates.

Protein provides energy with little effect on blood sugar, keeping it stable and helping with sugar cravings. Protein-packed foods include beans, legumes, eggs, seafood, dairy, lean meats and poultry.

Chia seeds, wild salmon, cinnamon and lentils are among the "superfoods" recommended for people with Type 2 diabetes. A healthy meal plan includes plenty of vegetables and limited processed food.

Read more about diabetes, how to prevent it and how to manage it at

Watch the video below detailing how to reverse Type 2 diabetes with diet.

This video is from the CAT channel on

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Sources include:

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