Small tweak to breakfast could help diabetics control blood sugar

Dr Amir lists diabetes symptoms

Millions of people in the UK are currently living with type 2 diabetes.

It is a life-altering and usually lifelong condition that causes blood sugar levels to become too high.

Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 is often triggered by lifestyle factors such as being overweight or not doing enough exercise.

Therefore, people with type 2 diabetes will often be advised to eat a healthy, balanced diet and exercise more.

Now scientists believe eating specific types of food first thing in the morning could help control blood sugar levels – something that is vital to diabetics.

An international team, led by researchers at the University of British Columbia in Canada, found that switching from a traditional western-style low-fat breakfast to a low-carb meal higher in protein and fat could benefit people with diabetes.

A low-fat breakfast included items like oatmeal, toast and fruit, whereas the low-carb breakfast included foods such as eggs with bacon or cheese.

The study, which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also showed that changing just one meal a day was enough to keep blood sugar levels in check.

In Science Daily, university researcher Doctor Barbara Oliveira explained: “We’re not talking about a complete diet overhaul.

“One of many complications for people living with type 2 diabetes is rapid or large increases in blood glucose levels after a meal.

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“Our research indicates a low-carbohydrate meal, first thing in the morning, seems to help control blood sugar throughout the day.”

Controlling blood sugar levels is vital for reducing the complications of type 2 diabetes including inflammation and cardiovascular disease.

“Treatment strategies that can help lower post-meal glucose swings and rapid changes in glucose are crucial to managing this condition,” she added.

“We’ve determined that if the first meal of the day is low-carb and higher in protein and fat we can limit hyperglycaemic swings.”

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As part of the 12-week study, 121 participants were split into two groups.

One group ate from a selection of low-carb breakfasts containing approximate amounts of eight grams of carbohydrate, 25g of protein and 37g of fat.

The other was advised to eat from a selection of low-fat higher-carb options containing about 56g of carbohydrates, 20g of protein and 15g of fat. Both breakfast options totalled 450 calories each.

Participants were provided with a continuous blood sugar monitoring device they wore throughout the study and also undertook blood tests, before and after the trial.

Weight and waist circumference were also measured at the beginning and end of the trial.

Although there were no significant differences between the low-carb and other group for weight, body mass index or waist circumference, the low-carb group did see a reduction in blood sugar levels and as a result some were even able to reduce their glucose-lowering medication.

Additionally, those who had a low-carb breakfast reported eating fewer calories and carbohydrates throughout the rest of the day.

Dr Oliveira said: “Having fewer carbs for breakfast not only aligns better with how people with type 2 diabetes handle glucose throughout the day, but it also has incredible potential for people with type 2 diabetes who struggle with their glucose levels in the morning.

“By making a small adjustment to the carb content of a single meal rather than the entire diet, we have the potential to increase adherence significantly while still obtaining significant benefits.”

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