Background: Over the past several years our research group has taken a systematic, comprehensive approach to determining the effects on body function (hormonal and non-hormonal) of varying the amounts and types of proteins, carbohydrates and fats in the diet. We have been particularly interested in the dietary management of type 2 diabetes. Our objective has been to develop a diet for people with type 2 diabetes that does not require weight loss, oral agents, or insulin, but that still controls the blood glucose concentration. Our overall goal is to enable the person with type 2 diabetes to control their blood glucose by adjustment in the composition rather than the amount of food in their diet.
Methods: This paper is a brief summary and review of our recent diet-related research, and the rationale used in the development of diets that potentially are useful in the treatment of diabetes.
Results: We determined that, of the carbohydrates present in the diet, absorbed glucose is largely responsible for the food-induced increase in blood glucose concentration. We also determined that dietary protein increases insulin secretion and lowers blood glucose. Fat does not significantly affect blood glucose, but can affect insulin secretion and modify the absorption of carbohydrates. Based on these data, we tested the efficacy of diets with various protein:carbohydrate:fat ratios for 5 weeks on blood glucose control in people with untreated type 2 diabetes. The results were compared to those obtained in the same subjects after 5 weeks on a control diet with a protein:carbohydrate:fat ratio of 15:55:30. A 30:40:30 ratio diet resulted in a moderate but significant decrease in 24-hour integrated glucose area and % total glycohemoglobin (%tGHb). A 30:20:50 ratio diet resulted in a 38% decrease in 24-hour glucose area, a reduction in fasting glucose to near normal and a decrease in %tGHb from 9.8% to 7.6%. The response to a 30:30:40 ratio diet was similar.
Conclusion: Altering the diet composition could be a patient-empowering method of improving the hyperglycemia of type 2 diabetes without weight loss or pharmacologic intervention.