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A recent study of kids with type 1 diabetes found that consuming more carbohydrates and natural sugars is associated with improved blood sugar control. As a category, natural sugars include the sugar naturally present in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and dairy.
Overall, better blood sugar control was positively associated with increasing fiber and carbohydrate intake and increasing percentage of diet as whole plants. Worsened blood sugar control was linked to increasing protein intake and unsaturated fat intake.
These findings are the opposite of what so many diabetics, particularly type 1 diabetics, are taught, but these findings are supported by other well done research.
I strongly encourage diabetics, even type 1 diabetics, to choose intact, whole foods, rich in carbohydrates with a lower glycemic index. Some good, filling choices, rich in carbohydrates and fiber, include beans of all types, steel cut oats, sweet potatoes, and quinoa, wild rice, and bulgur. Fresh, whole fruits (not dried fruits, juices, syrups, or smoothies) should be encouraged, though I suggest sticking to lower glycemic load fruits like berries, apples and oranges.
Dietary change affects diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, so strongly and rapidly that anyone on medications should make changes in partnership with their doctor. Insulin and other medications that drive blood sugar lower can be dangerous, leading to real problems if they are dosed incorrectly.
- Nansel TR, Lipsky LM, Liu A. Greater diet quality is associated with more optimal glycemic control in a longitudinal study of youth with type 1 diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr 2016.