Type 2 diabetes remission can be achieved by following a low-carb diet, evidence reveals

By Editor
27th January 2023
Low carb, Research Type 2 diabetes

New research has reported that people living with type 2 diabetes can put their condition into remission by following a low-carbohydrate diet.

A team of recognised academics have found that a low-carb diet helped people living with type 2 diabetes achieve major weight loss and improve their health outcomes.

Since 2013, Dr David Unwin from Norwood Surgery in Southport has encouraged his patients to adopt a low-carb lifestyle by launching a programme dedicated to the subject.

As part of the programme, advice on a lower carbohydrate diet and weight loss was offered routinely to people with type 2 diabetes between 2013 and 2021, in a suburban practice with nearly 10,000 patients.

Conventional ‘one-to-one’ GP consultations were used, supplemented by group consultations and personal phone calls as necessary.

Those interested in participating were computer coded for ongoing audit to compare ‘baseline’ with ‘latest follow-up’ for relevant parameters.

According to the results, the cohort who chose the low-carbohydrate approach equalled 39 per cent of the practice type 2 diabetes register. Overall, remission was achieved in 51 per cent of the cohort, the study has reported.

The findings state: “After an average of 33 months median (IQR) weight fell from 97 (84–109) to 86 (76–99) kg, giving a mean (SD) weight loss of −10 (8.9)kg.

“Median (IQR) HbA1c fell from 63 (54–80) to 46 (42–53) mmol/mol. Remission of diabetes was achieved in 77 per cent with T2D duration less than 1 year, falling to 20 per cent for duration greater than 15 years.”

The authors added: “Mean LDL cholesterol decreased by 0.5 mmol/L, mean triglyceride by 0.9 mmol/L and mean systolic blood pressure by 12 mm Hg.

“There were major prescribing savings; average Norwood surgery spend was £4.94 per person per year on drugs for diabetes compared with £11.30 for local practices. In the year ending January 2022, Norwood surgery spent £68,353 per year less than the area average.”

Ann Geoghegan, 70, had type 2 diabetes for 10 years and struggled to manage her blood glucose levels while she lived with the condition.

She said: “My vision was also becoming blurry, which was worrying, but I didn’t think things would ever change.”

Dr David Unwin said: “Losing weight by adopting a low-carb regimen can not only improve your diabetes control but also your life expectancy.

“This study shows there is great hope for nearly everyone with type 2 diabetes, whether they have been more recently diagnosed or, like Ann, have long-term diabetes.”

He added: “Patients I treat with a low-carb diet are amazed not to feel hungry. But if you eat 500 calories of ice cream, you’ll still feel hungry afterwards. However, if you eat the same calorie value of steak and broccoli, you won’t feel hungry because they’re higher in nutrients that fill you up.”

Fellow academic Professor Roy Taylor was one of the first researchers around the globe to identify that losing weight can reverse type 2 diabetes.

He champions the soup and shake programme, which is soon to be available through the NHS for all people living with the condition.

Professor Taylor said: “Mine and Dr Unwin’s approaches is that they share the principle of emphasising the importance of shedding excess weight — and that this is what makes the difference for people’s health.”

Click here to read the entire study.

Comments (3)

  1. Matthew Kiln says:

    We have known and observed lowering carbohydrate diets will allow some if not many Type 2 diabetics to go into remission for all the last 35 years i was a GP, diabetic patient and charity trustee in this area, It is hardly a surprise, but i am so glad now that academics have realized this as well.

  2. Patricia Williams says:

    While Professor |Taylor looked for similarities to boost his own programme, in fact there are several differences. Cutting calories drastically also cuts carbohydrates, so it introduces a confounding factor. Those of us on a low carbohydrate diet don’t feel hungry and can maintain it for years.
    And cutting carbs is possible for the roughly 10% of type 2 who are not overweight at diagnosis when cutting other nutrients and calories would not be helpful.

  3. Emma Clayton says:

    I wonder whether this is a consequence of therapeutic nutrition programmes!