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Opinion: ADA: Low Carb Diet Helps Diabetics, but Still Not Recommended

Patients Left On Their Own to Find Best Diet for Them

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Updated November 13, 2007

The accumulating evidence regarding the role of low-carbohydrate diets in helping diabetics manage their condition has apparently reached critical mass –- though the American Diabetes Association (ADA) admits this, it still will not change its dietary recommendations.

As reported by Regina Wilshire in her low-carb science blog Weight of the Evidence, a spokesperson for the ADA says that low carb diets are helpful for managing diabetes, but they aren’t recommended because the ADA thinks that low carb is too difficult for people to “live with long term."

In other words, instead of trying to help people follow the diet that is best for them, this prominent organization admits to recommending a diet that is less healthy for diabetics –- a diet that could cause a type 2 diabetic to take more medication, progress to becoming dependent on insulin, or even suffer from any of a number of health problems caused by poor blood glucose control.

One result of this policy is that people who find that low-carb diets work for them in managing their blood glucose end up ignoring the advice of their doctors and nutritionists and striking out on their own in their quest to find a healthier diet. We see these people in our low carb forum. They come looking for help in managing their diabetes -- help they are not getting from the medical community. Many people report that the diet they were advised to follow is not effective in keeping their blood sugar controlled.

This stance of the ADA is equally important for those who are insulin resistant (pre-diabetic, metabolic syndrome). In fact, it is probably a misnomer to call people in this group PREdiabetic -- it is more accurate to say that they are in the early stages of diabetes. In order not to progress to “diagnosable” diabetes, taking care of their health is vital, and reducing carbohydrate intake is arguably the most important thing they can do to prevent progression of the condition. (Exercise also plays a vital part.)

How do you know if you are insulin resistant? The article Is Low Carb For You? lists many of the signs, symptoms, and risk factors for prediabetes. Anyone with diabetes in the family or a woman who has had gestational diabetes is also potentially in this group.

The ADA should be helping diabetics to find ways to make carbohydrate reduction work, instead of insisting that it can't be done.
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