Scientific evidence is piling up showing that lifestyle interventions, especially dietary interventions, may be more effective than drugs when it comes to the management of certain chronic diseases. This is especially true in the case of diabetes. The only problem is, which diet?
Unfortunately, experts cannot agree as to which diet is best for those with diabetes. This is the day and age of food customized to individual dietary requirements. Let us take a look at what is out there:
The Atkins diet
So what is the Atkins diet i? It is basically a low-carbohydrate diet which supposedly makes you lose weight without making you hungry. WebMD describes how it works:
“By restricting carbohydrates drastically to a mere fraction of that found in the typical American diet, the body goes into a state of ketosis, which means it burns its own fat for fuel. A person in ketosis is getting energy from ketones, little carbon fragments that are the fuel created by the breakdown of fat stores. When the body is in ketosis, you tend to feel less hungry, and thus you’re likely to eat less than you might otherwise. However, ketosis can also cause a variety of unpleasant effects (such as unusual breath odor and constipation) in a small number of people…As a result, your body changes from a carbohydrate-burning engine into a fat-burning engine. So instead of relying on the carbohydrate-rich items you might typically consume for energy, and leaving your fat stores just where they were before (alas, the hips, belly, and thunder thighs are popular fat-gathering spots), your fat stores become a primary energy source. The purported result: weight loss.”
Although originally thought out for weight loss, Dr Eric C Westman of Duke University in Durham, NC advocates the Atkins diet for the management of diabetes based on his talk at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) conference last month. After all, “years before medications were available to treat diabetes, a low-carbohydrate diet was used as the primary treatment of diabetes mellitus.”
Westman is a co-author of the latest book on Atkins diet “New Atkins for a New You: The Ultimate Diet for Shedding Weight and Feeling Great.”and is a consultant at Atkins Nutritionals.
Some of the experts’ comments on the Atkins diet are:
According to Dr Robert Eckel of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver, also a spokesperson on nutritional issues for the American Heart Association (AHA):
Other experts, however, believe that the Atkins diet may be “too restrictive for people to stay on long term and potentially unsafe” for diabetics.
The South Beach diet
The South Beach diet is very similar to Atkins but is less restrictive because it allows “good carbs.” South Beach, too, doesn’t let you go hungry.
Again, we rely on WebMD experts to give us an overview on the South Beach diet.
Carbs. The South Beach Diet doesn’t count grams of carbs. The Atkins diet seeks to change a person from a sugar-burning machine into a fat-burning machine. The South Beach diet looks at how much sugar is in a carb. Low-sugar carbs — those with a low glycemic index (they don’t cause the blood sugar levels to rise and fall as quickly) — are good (this point may sound very familiar to fans of the Sugar Busters diet).”
Of course there are other diets out there but these two are currently in the limelight in connection with diabetes.
The American Diabetes Assocition (ADA) currently does not recommend the Atkins-type diet for diabetics. In fact, ADA spokesperson Stephanie A Dunbar, director of nutrition and medical affairs for the AD thinks it is at this point difficult to make dietary recommendations for people with diabetes because “there are no long-term data comparing the different diets in diabetes management… I don’t think there is one particular diet that is going to work for every person. Our real recommendation for people with diabetes is that they need to have an individualized approach to meal planning, whether they need to go to 35%, 40%, or 45% of calories from carbohydrates, that needs to be individualized.”
This is the day and age of food customized to individual dietary requirements. So when do we get the ideal diabetic diet?