Low-carb diets could reduce diabetes and stroke risk even if you don’t lose lots of weight

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REDUCING the amount of pasta and bread you eat could make you more healthy – even if you don’t lose weight.

That’s the conclusion of a new study which has found that eating a low-carb diet could help to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Ditching carbs might not be that fashionable any more but it can significantly improve the health of millions living with metabolic syndrome
Ditching carbs might not be that fashionable anymore but it can significantly improve the health of millions living with metabolic syndrome
Getty – Contributor

You don’t have to diet or cut calories to reap the heart benefits, scientists say.

All you’ve got to do is reduce the amount of sugar you’re eating and the most simple way to do that is to cut down on processed carbs.

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of obesity, high blood pressure and high levels of fat and sugar in the bloodstream – and it can be reversed by this diet hack.

Around one in four Brits have the syndrome, according to Heart UK.

Scientists from Ohio University looked at 16 people living with metabolic syndrome and found that it was reversed in more than half of people who adopted a low-carb diet.

And that was despite none of them losing weight.

Improvements even with moderate-carbs

They each spent a month eating either a low-carb, moderate or high-carb diet, with a two-week break in between each.

The low-carb diet was limited to just 45g of carbs a day (the equivalent of two slices of white bread). The high carb plan went up to 420g.

In fact, four people managed to reverse their condition on the medium-carb diet, which scientists put down to them eating so many carbs before.

“There’s no doubt that people with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes do better on low-carb diets,” said lead author Professor Jeff Volek.

“But they typically lose weight and one of the prevailing thoughts is that the weight loss is driving the improvements. That was clearly not the case here.

“Our view is that restricting carbs even without weight loss improves a host of metabolic problems.”

What is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is the name given to a group of health problems that puts you at higher risk of diseases of the heart, including heart attacks and stroke.

It’s very common, with experts suggesting that around one in four adults in the UK have it.

To be diagnosed, you’ve got to have three of five issues including:

  • high blood pressure
  • insulin resistance
  • overweight/obesity
  • unhealthy levels of blood fats
  • having a waist measurement over 94cm (37in) for men, and 80cm (31.5in) for women

But isn’t going low-carb dangerous?

More and more research has suggested that carbs are actually essential from a health perspective.

Studies have found that having a moderate amount of foods like potatoes, bread and pasta might extend your life by up to four years.

And a study back in September suggested that consuming an insufficient amount of carbs can affect your gut health – which in turn, can up your risk of developing bowel cancer.

However, it is possible to do low-carb and still stay healthy.

“Low carb/keto done correctly should be full of good gut boosting foods, including fibre from the vegetables,” nutritionist Sarah Flower previously told The Sun.

“Most people think of Atkins or just a diet of meat and fat when they hear low-carb or keto but it is more Mediterranean style, real food, vegetables, nuts, seeds, good healthy fats, oily fish, meat, dairy — nothing more than a real food diet cutting out grains, sugars and all processed foods.”

You absolutely need fibre in your diet; it’s just a case of getting that from natural sources rather than processed foods like white breads and pasta.

Low-carb can also reverse diabetes

A low-carb Med diet (where half of daily calories came from fats like avocados, hummus, olive oil, cheese), has been found to be massively beneficial to people with type 2 diabetes.

The keto diet has been proven to decrease blood glucose levels.

A 24-week study looked at the effect of a low-carb diet on type 2 diabetics.

Scientists found that by the end, the patients had seen massive improvements to their glycemic control and medication reduction compared to others.

And a 2017 study found that the keto diet outperformed a conventional, low-fat diabetes diet over 32 weeks when it came to weight loss and glucose levels.


But if you are going to cut out grains, then it’s absolutely crucial to make sure that you’re getting at least five portions of veg a day.

Just live off meat and dairy and you’re asking for trouble.

Load up on lots of heart-healthy veg and you’re getting all the fibre and vitamins you need while reducing the amount of sugar in your system.


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