Chronic Diseases

Peer-Reviewed Scientific Articles​

Dietary carbohydrate restriction as the first approach in diabetes management: Critical review and evidence base


Journal: Nutrition

Publication Date: 01/2015

Summary: The inability of current recommendations to control the epidemic of diabetes, the specific failure of the prevailing low-fat diets to improve obesity, cardiovascular risk, or general health and the persistent reports of some serious side effects of commonly prescribed diabetic medications, in combination with the continued success of low-carbohydrate diets in the treatment of diabetes and metabolic syndrome without significant side effects, point to the need for a reappraisal of dietary guidelines. The benefits of carbohydrate restriction in diabetes are immediate and well documented. Concerns about the efficacy and safety are long term and conjectural rather than data driven. Dietary carbohydrate restriction reliably reduces high blood glucose, does not require weight loss (although is still best for weight loss), and leads to the reduction or elimination of medication. It has never shown side effects comparable with those seen in many drugs. Here we present 12 points of evidence supporting the use of low-carbohydrate diets as the first approach to treating type 2 diabetes and as the most effective adjunct to pharmacology in type 1. They represent the best-documented, least controversial results. The insistence on long-term randomized controlled trials as the only kind of data that will be accepted is without precedent in science. The seriousness of diabetes requires that we evaluate all of the evidence that is available. The 12 points are sufficiently compelling that we feel that the burden of proof rests with those who are opposed.

Key Takeaways

The diabetes epidemic is progressing uncontrolled by current medical and dietary management. Low-Carbohydrate ketogenic diets show significant improvement in the disease better than any recommendation currently on the table. With effective reduction in blood sugar, weight loss, and medication reduction, this should be the primary recommendation by physicians in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Very low-calorie ketogenic diet may allow restoring response to systemic therapy in relapsing plaque psoriasis.


Journal: Obesity Research & Clinical Practice

Publication Date: 05/2016

Summary: Psoriasis is a chronic disease associated with overweight/obesity and related cardiometabolic complications. The link between these diseases is likely the inflammatory background associated with adipose tissue, particularly the visceral one. Accordingly, previous studies have demonstrated that in the long-term weight loss may improve the response to systemic therapies. We report a case report of a woman in her 40s suffering from relapsing moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis and obesity-related metabolic syndrome, in whom adequate response to ongoing treatment with biological therapy (adalimumab) was restored after only 4 weeks of very low-calorie, carbohydrate-free (ketogenic), protein-based diet. Accordingly, through rapid and consistent weight loss, very low calorie ketogenic diet may allow restoring a quick response to systemic therapy in a patient suffering from relapsing psoriasis. This intervention should be considered in overweight/obese patients before the rearrangement of systemic therapy. Nonetheless, studies are required to evaluate whether very low calorie ketogenic diets should be preferred to common low-calorie diets to improve the response to systemic therapy at least in patients with moderate-to-severe psoriasis.

Key Takeaways

This case report suggest that a low calorie ketogenic diet that accelerates weight loss can restore the ability of the body to respond to therapy with adalimumab in someone with relapsing plaque psoriasis.

Implementing a low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet to manage type 2 diabetes mellitus


Journal: Expert Review of Endocrinology and Metabolism

Publication Date: 09/2018

Summary: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) has reached epidemic proportions in the modern world. For individuals affected by obesity-related T2DM, clinical studies have shown that carbohydrate restriction and weight loss can improve hyperglycemia, obesity and T2DM. Reducing carbohydrate intake to a certain level, typically below 50 grams per day, leads to increased ketogenesis in order to provide fuel for the body. Such low- carbohydrate, ketogenic diets were employed to treat obesity and diabetes in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Recent clinical research has reinvigorated the use of the ketogenic diet for individuals with obesity and diabetes. Although characterized by chronic hyperglycemia, the underlying cause of T2DM is hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance, typically as a result of increased energy intake leading to obesity. The ketogenic diet substantially reduces the glycemic response that results from dietary carbohydrate as well as improves the underlying insulin resistance. This review combines a literature search of the published science and practical guidance based on clinical experience. While the current treatment of T2DM emphasizes drug treatment and a higher carbohydrate diet, the ketogenic diet is an effective alternative that relies less on medication, and may even be a preferable option when medications are not available.

Key Takeaways

The ketogenic diet was used in the 1800s and early 1900s to treat obesity and diabetes, but today pharmaceutical therapy is standard of care. Type 2 diabetes is extremely common today, and medical therapy is not slowing the progression of the disease. Return to use of dietary approaches such as the ketogenic diet are more effective at reducing blood sugar and improving insulin resistance.

Meat and mental health: a systematic review of meat abstention and depression, anxiety, and related phenomena


Journal: Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition

Publication Date: 04/2020

Summary: To examine the relation between the consumption or avoidance of meat and psychological health and well-being. A systematic search of online databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, CINAHL Plus, Medline, and Cochrane Library) was conducted for primary research examining psychological health in meat-consumers and meat-abstainers. Inclusion criteria were the provision of a clear distinction between meat-consumers and meat-abstainers, and data on factors related to psychological health. Studies examining meat consumption as a continuous or multi-level variable were excluded. Summary data were compiled, and qualitative analyses of methodologic rigor were conducted. The main outcome was the disparity in the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and related conditions in meat-consumers versus meat-abstainers. Secondary outcomes included mood and self-harm behaviors. Eighteen studies met the inclusion/exclusion criteria; representing 160,257 participants (85,843 females and 73,232 males) with 149,559 meat-consumers and 8584 meat-abstainers (11 to 96 years) from multiple geographic regions. Analysis of methodologic rigor revealed that the studies ranged from low to severe risk of bias with high to very low confidence in results. Eleven of the 18 studies demonstrated that meat-abstention was associated with poorer psychological health, four studies were equivocal, and three showed that meat-abstainers had better outcomes. The most rigorous studies demonstrated that the prevalence or risk of depression and/or anxiety were significantly greater in participants who avoided meat consumption. Studies examining the relation between the consumption or avoidance of meat and psychological health varied substantially in methodologic rigor, validity of interpretation, and confidence in results. The majority of studies, and especially the higher quality studies, showed that those who avoided meat consumption had significantly higher rates or risk of depression, anxiety, and/or self-harm behaviors. There was mixed evidence for temporal relations, but study designs and a lack of rigor precluded inferences of causal relations. Our study does not support meat avoidance as a strategy to benefit psychological health

Key Takeaways

Meat eaters had less anxiety and depression that those who abstain from eating meat.

Effectiveness and Safety of a Novel Care Model for the Management of Type 2 Diabetes at 1 Year: An Open-Label, Non-Randomized, Controlled Study


Journal: Diabetes Therapy

Publication Date: 02/2018

Summary: Treatments for type 2 diabetes (T2D) have improved, yet T2D and being overweight are still significant public health concerns. Blood sugar in patients with T2D can improve quickly when patients eat significantly fewer dietary carbohydrates. However, this demands careful medicine management by doctors, and patients need support and frequent contact with health providers to sustain this way of living. The purpose of this study was to evaluate if a new care model with very low dietary carbohydrate intake and continuous supervision by a health coach and doctor could safely lower HbA1c, weight and need for medicines after 1 year in adults with T2D. 262 adults with T2D volunteered to participate in this continuous care intervention (CCI) along with 87 adults with T2D receiving usual care (UC) from their doctors and diabetes education program. After 1 year, patients in the CCI, on average, lowered HbA1c from 7.6 to 6.3%, lost 12% of their body weight, and reduced diabetes medicine use. 94% of patients who were prescribed insulin reduced or stopped their insulin use, and sulfonylureas were eliminated in all patients. Participants in the UC group had no changes to HbA1c, weight or diabetes medicine use over the year. These changes in CCI participants happened safely while dyslipidemia and markers of inflammation and liver function improved. This suggests the novel care model studied here using dietary carbohydrate restriction and continuous remote care can safely support adults with T2D to lower HbA1c, weight, and medicine use.

Key Takeaways

Type 2 diabetics who utilized a low carbohydrate diet with supervision from a health coach were able to effectively lose 12% of body weight, reduce HbA1C by an average of 1.3%, and reduce their diabetic medication use.

Cardiovascular disease risk factor responses to a type 2 diabetes care model including nutritional ketosis induced by sustained carbohydrate restriction at 1 year: an open label, non-randomized, controlled study


Journal: Cardiovascular Diabetology

Publication Date: 05/2018

Summary: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death among adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D). We recently reported that glycemic control in patients with T2D can be significantly improved through a continuous care intervention (CCI) including nutritional ketosis. The purpose of this study was to examine CVD risk factors in this cohort. We investigated CVD risk factors in patients with T2D who participated in a 1 year open label, nonrandomized, controlled study. The CCI group (n = 262) received treatment from a health coach and medical provider. A usual care (UC) group (n = 87) was independently recruited to track customary T2D progression. Circulating biomarkers of cholesterol metabolism and inflammation, blood pressure (BP), carotid intima media thickness (cIMT), multifactorial risk scores and medication use were examined. A significance level of P < 0.0019 ensured two-tailed significance at the 5% level when Bonferroni adjusted for multiple comparisons. The CCI group consisted of 262 participants (baseline mean (SD): age 54 (8) year, BMI 40.4 (8.8) kg m−2). Intention-to-treat analysis (% change) revealed the following at 1-year: total LDL-particles (LDL-P) (− 4.9%, P = 0.02), small LDL-P (− 20.8%, P = 1.2 × 10−12), LDL-P size (+ 1.1%, P = 6.0 × 10−10), ApoB (− 1.6%, P = 0.37), ApoA1 (+ 9.8%, P < 10−16), ApoB/ApoA1 ratio (− 9.5%, P = 1.9 × 10−7), triglyceride/HDL-C ratio (− 29.1%, P < 10−16), large VLDL-P (− 38.9%, P = 4.2 × 10−15), and LDL-C (+ 9.9%, P = 4.9 × 10−5). Additional effects were reductions in blood pressure, high sensitivity C-reactive protein, and white blood cell count (all P < 1 × 10−7) while cIMT was unchanged. The 10-year atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk score decreased − 11.9% (P = 4.9 × 10−5). Antihypertensive medication use was discontinued in 11.4% of CCI participants (P = 5.3 × 10−5). The UC group of 87 participants [base- line mean (SD): age 52 (10) year, BMI 36.7 (7.2) kg m−2] showed no significant changes. After adjusting for baseline differences when comparing CCI and UC groups, significant improvements for the CCI group included small LDL-P, ApoA1, triglyceride/HDL-C ratio, HDL-C, hsCRP, and LP-IR score in addition to other biomarkers that were previously reported. The CCI group showed a greater rise in LDL-C.

Key Takeaways

Type 2 diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is also the most common cause of death in type 2 diabetics. In 262 type 2 diabetics, a ketogenic diet over 1 year showed considerable improvements in cholesterol levels, reduced blood pressure, reduced inflammation markers, and a reduced cardiovascular disease risk score. These patients were compared to 87 participants who received the usual medical care. These 87 patients saw no significant change in biomarkers.

Outcomes of a Digitally Delivered Low-Carbohydrate Type 2 Diabetes Self-Management Program: 1-Year Results of a Single-Arm Longitudinal Study


Journal: JMIR Diabetes

Publication Date: 03/2018

Summary: Type 2 diabetes mellitus has serious health consequences, including blindness, amputation, stroke, and dementia, and its annual global costs are more than US $800 billion. Although typically considered a progressive, nonreversible disease, some researchers and clinicians now argue that type 2 diabetes may be effectively treated with a carbohydrate-reduced diet. Our objective was to evaluate the 1-year outcomes of the digitally delivered Low-Carb Program, a nutritionally focused, 10-session educational intervention for glycemic control and weight loss for adults with type 2 diabetes. The program reinforces carbohydrate restriction using behavioral techniques including goal setting, peer support, and behavioral self-monitoring. The study used a quasi-experimental research design comprised of an open-label, single-arm, pre-post intervention using a sample of convenience. From adults with type 2 diabetes who had joined the program and had a complete baseline dataset, we randomly selected participants to be followed for 1 year (N=1000; mean age 56.1, SD 15.7 years; 59.30% (593/1000) women; mean glycated hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) 7.8%, SD 2.1%; mean body weight 89.6 kg, SD 23.1 kg; taking mean 1.2, SD 1.01 diabetes medications). Of the 1000 study participants, 708 (70.80%) individuals reported outcomes at 12 months, 672 (67.20%) completed at least 40% of the lessons, and 528 (52.80%) completed all lessons of the program. Of the 743 participants with a starting HbA1c at or above the type 2 diabetes threshold of 6.5%, 195 (26.2%) reduced their HbA1c to below the threshold while taking no glucose-lowering medications or just metformin. Of the participants who were taking at least one hypoglycemic medication at baseline, 40.4% (289/714) reduced one or more of these medications. Almost half (46.40%, 464/1000) of all participants lost at least 5% of their body weight. Overall, glycemic control and weight loss improved, especially for participants who completed all 10 modules of the program. For example, participants with elevated baseline HbA1c (≥7.5%) who engaged with all 10 weekly modules reduced their HbA1c from 9.2% to 7.1% (P<.001) and lost an average of 6.9% of their body weight (P<.001). Especially for participants who fully engage, an online program that teaches a carbohydrate-reduced diet to adults with type 2 diabetes can be effective for glycemic control, weight loss, and reducing hypoglycemic medications.

Key Takeaways

Utilization of an online program that educates type 2 diabetics on the benefits of a low carbohydrate diet produced weight loss, reduction of HbA1C, and reduction of medication use in individuals who completed the program.

Management of Glioblastoma Multiforme in a Patient Treated With Ketogenic Metabolic Therapy and Modified Standard of Care: A 24-Month Follow-Up


Journal: Frontiers in Nutrition

Publication Date: 03/2018

Summary: Few advances have been made in overall survival for glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in more than 40 years. Here, we report the case of a 38-year-old man who presented with chronic headache, nausea, and vomiting accompanied by left partial motor seizures and upper left limb weakness. Enhanced brain magnetic resonance imaging revealed a solid cystic lesion in the right partial space suggesting GBM. Serum testing revealed vitamin D deficiency and elevated levels of insulin and triglycerides. Prior to subtotal tumor resection and standard of care (SOC), the patient conducted a 72-h water-only fast. Following the fast, the patient initiated a vitamin/mineral-supplemented ketogenic diet (KD) for 21 days that delivered 900 kcal/day. In addition to radiotherapy, temozolomide chemotherapy, and the KD (increased to 1,500 kcal/day at day 22), the patient received metformin (1,000 mg/day), methylfolate (1,000 mg/day), chloroquine phosphate (150 mg/day), epigallocatechin gallate (400 mg/day), and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) (60 min/session, 5 sessions/week at 2.5 ATA). The patient also received levetiracetam (1,500 mg/day). No steroid medication was given at any time. Post-surgical histology confirmed the diagnosis of GBM. Reduced invasion of tumor cells and thick-walled hyalinized blood vessels were also seen suggesting a therapeutic benefit of pre-surgical metabolic therapy. After 9 months treatment with the modified SOC and complimentary ketogenic metabolic therapy (KMT), the patient’s body weight was reduced by about 19%. Seizures and left limb weakness resolved. Biomarkers showed reduced blood glucose and elevated levels of urinary ketones with evidence of reduced metabolic activity (choline/N-acetylaspartate ratio) and normalized levels of insulin, triglycerides, and vitamin D. This is the first report of confirmed GBM treated with a modified SOC together with KMT and HBOT, and other targeted metabolic therapies. As rapid regression of GBM is rare following subtotal resection and SOC alone, it is possible that the response observed in this case resulted in part from the modified SOC and other novel treatments. Additional studies are needed to validate the efficacy of KMT administered with alternative approaches that selectively increase oxidative stress in tumor cells while restricting their access to glucose and glutamine. The patient remains in excellent health (Karnofsky Score, 100%) with continued evidence of significant tumor regression.

Key Takeaways

Glioblastoma Multiforme is a brain tumor that rarely regresses. In this case, a patient had the tumor mostly removed, but with some still remaining. Before surgery the patient received standard of care, but additionally did a 72 hour water only fast followed by a ketogenic diet. The ketogenic diet was continued 9 months after surgery along with the standard of care. Tumor regression was seen, and the patient attained excellent health.

Management of Type 1 Diabetes With a Very Low–Carbohydrate Diet


Journal: Pediatrics

Publication Date: 06/2018

Summary: To evaluate glycemic control among children and adults with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) who consume a very low–carbohydrate diet (VLCD). We conducted an online survey of an international social media group for people with T1DM who follow a VLCD. Respondents included adults and parents of children with T1DM. We assessed current hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) (primary measure), change in HbA1c after the self-reported beginning of the VLCD, total daily insulin dose, and adverse events. We obtained confirmatory data from diabetes care providers and medical records. Of 316 respondents, 131 (42%) were parents of children with T1DM, and 57% were of female sex. Suggestive evidence of T1DM (based on a 3-tier scoring system in which researchers took into consideration age and weight at diagnosis, pancreatic autoimmunity, insulin requirement, and clinical presentation) was obtained for 273 (86%) respondents. The mean age at diagnosis was 16 ± 14 years, the duration of diabetes was 11 ± 13 years, and the time following a VLCD was 2.2 ± 3.9 years. Participants had a mean daily carbohydrate intake of 36 ± 15 g. Reported mean HbA1c was 5.67% ± 0.66%. Only 7 (2%) respondents reported diabetes-related hospitalizations in the past year, including 4 (1%) for ketoacidosis and 2 (1%) for hypoglycemia. Exceptional glycemic control of T1DM with low rates of adverse events was reported by a community of children and adults who consume a VLCD. The generalizability of these findings requires further studies, including high-quality randomized controlled trials.

Key Takeaways

This study focused on the use of a very low carbohydrate diet in patients with Type 1 diabetes. Out of 316 participants, the mean HbA1C was reported to be 5.67% with only 7 participants having diabetes related hospitalization for ketoacidosis or hypoglycemia.

Long-Term Effects of a Novel Continuous Remote Care Intervention Including Nutritional Ketosis for the Management of Type 2 Diabetes: A 2-Year Non-randomized Clinical Trial


Journal: Frontiers in Endocrinology

Publication Date: 06/2019

Summary: Studies on long-term sustainability of low-carbohydrate approaches to treat diabetes are limited. We previously reported the effectiveness of a novel digitally-monitored continuous care intervention (CCI) including nutritional ketosis in improving weight, glycemic outcomes, lipid, and liver marker changes at 1 year. Here, we assess the effects of the CCI at 2 years. An open label, non-randomized, controlled study with 262 and 87 participants with T2D were enrolled in the CCI and usual care (UC) groups, respectively. Primary outcomes were retention, glycemic control, and weight changes at 2 years. Secondary outcomes included changes in body composition, liver, cardiovascular, kidney, thyroid and inflammatory markers, diabetes medication use and disease status. Reductions from baseline to 2 years in the CCI group resulting from intent-to-treat analyses included: HbA1c, fasting glucose, fasting insulin, weight, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, triglycerides, and liver alanine transaminase, and HDL-C increased. Spine bone mineral density in the CCI group was unchanged. Use of any glycemic control medication (excluding metformin) among CCI participants declined (from 55.7 to 26.8%) including insulin (-62%) and sulfonylureas (-100%). The UC group had no changes in these parameters (except uric acid and anion gap) or diabetes medication use. There was also resolution of diabetes (reversal, 53.5%; remission, 17.6%) in the CCI group but not in UC. All the reported improvements had p < 0.00012. The CCI group sustained long-term beneficial effects on multiple clinical markers of diabetes and cardiometabolic health at 2 years while utilizing less medication. The intervention was also effective in the resolution of diabetes and visceral obesity with no adverse effect on bone health.

Key Takeaways

Low carbohydrate ketogenic diets were assessed in 262 adults with type 2 diabetes after 2 years of dieting. Participants saw reductions in blood sugar, insulin, blood pressure, weight, triglycerides, and liver enzymes. HDL was increased, and patients maintained spinal bone mineral density. Additionally, diabetic medication use was reduced in a majority of patients and sulfonylureas were eliminated in all patients. 53.5% saw a complete reversal of diabetes and 17.6 put their diabetes into remission.

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