Postprandial hyperglycemia has deleterious effects on endothelial function. Restricting carbohydrate intake and postmeal walking have each been shown to reduce postprandial hyperglycemia, but their combination and subsequent effects on endothelial function have not been investigated. Here, we sought to examine the effect of blunting postprandial hyperglycemia by following a low-carbohydrate diet, with or without postmeal walking exercise, on markers of vascular health in type 2 diabetes (T2D). In a randomized crossover design, individuals with T2D ( n = 11) completed three 4-day controlled diet interventions consisting of 1) low-carbohydrate diet alone (LC), 2) low-carbohydrate diet with 15-min postmeal walks (LC + Ex), and 3) low-fat control diet (CON). Fasting blood samples and brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (%FMD) were measured before and after each intervention. Total circulating microparticles (MPs), endothelial MPs, platelet MPs, monocyte-platelet aggregates, and adhesion molecules were assessed as biomarkers of vascular health. There was a significant condition × time interaction for %FMD ( P = 0.01), with post hoc tests revealing improved %FMD after LC + Ex (+0.8 ± 1.0%, P = 0.02), with no change after LC or CON. Endothelial MPs were significantly reduced with the LC diet by ~45% (from 99 ± 60 to 44 ± 31 MPs/μl, P = 0.02), with no change after LC + Ex or CON (interaction: P = 0.04). Total MPs were lower (main effect time: P = 0.02), whereas monocyte-platelet aggregates were higher (main effect time: P < 0.01) after all interventions. Plasma adhesion molecules and C-reactive protein were unaltered. Attenuating postprandial hyperglycemic excursions using a low-carbohydrate diet combined with postmeal walking appears to be an effective strategy to improve endothelial function in individuals with T2D. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Carbohydrate restriction and postmeal walking lower postprandial hyperglycemia in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Here, we show that the combination significantly improved endothelial function and that carbohydrate restriction alone reduced circulating endothelial microparticles in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Listen to this article's corresponding podcast at http://ajpheart.podbean.com/e/low-carb-diet-and-exercise-improve-endothelial-health/ .
Keywords: flow-mediated dilation; glucose; glycemic control; high fat; low-carbohydrate high-fat diet; microparticles; walking.