- Researchers in Switzerland have found that low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diets could increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, particularly in the early stages of the eating plan.
- Even though mice fed a ketogenic diet appeared to be healthy in a fasted state, they showed decreased glucose tolerance to a greater extent than mice fed a high-carb, high-fat, Western-style diet, NutritionInsight reported.
- The research was published Aug. 8 in The Journal of Physiology and was conducted by ETH Zurich, a science, technology, engineering and mathematics university, in conjunction with University Children’s Hospital Zurich.
Keto is one of the trendiest diets on the market today, particularly among health-conscious consumers who want to lose weight, and food manufacturers big and small have been rolling out products that fit the regimen. However, this Swiss study indicates that keto eating patterns could lead to an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.
When the body's system for controlling blood sugar with insulin isn't working, people can develop insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels, NutritionInsight noted. The Swiss study revealed that the keto diet led to insulin resistance in the liver, a situation that could lead to a higher Type 2 diabetes risk.
Diet-related diseases are increasing in this country, statistics show. More than 7% of the U.S. population has diabetes, mainly Type 2, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports is up from 4.4% in 2000.
The possible connection between a low-carb, high-fat diet and a greater Type 2 diabetes risk shouldn't be overlooked. Still, the researchers said that human trials were planned in order to draw more pertinent conclusions.
Study co-author Christian Wolfrum, associate professor at ETH Zurich's Institute of Food Nutrition and Health, told NutritionInsight that he wasn't concerned just yet about today's heavy marketing of keto diets.
"It should be noted that even the long-term benefits of a ketogenic diet have been questioned in some studies; however, I don’t think concern is warranted at the moment," he said, adding, "In general, I am an advocate of a balanced diet to avoid any type of malnutrition, which can arise from limiting food sources."
Consumers following a keto diet, or any trendy eating plans, may want to keep an eye on research connecting them to potential health problems. Food manufacturers would be wise to do the same and to market their products in the context of a healthy and balanced diet. Some fad diets fade quickly enough that it's not an issue, but those with staying power are a different matter.
According to an annual Food & Health Survey released in May, the percentage of American adults on specific diets rose to 36% in the past year. These consumers follow Whole30, paleo, gluten-free, ketogenic and other regimens, along with intermittent fasting. The most common diet regime, the survey found, was occasional fasting (10%), followed by paleo (7%), low-carbohydrate (5%), Whole30 (5%), high-protein (4%) and ketogenic/high-fat (3%).