Although the causes of type 1 and type 2 diabetes are different, some of the management methods for both are the same – the keto diet. Studies have shown that keto and low-carb diets can improve glycemic control in people with type 1 diabetes, and it is safe in the long term when you start the diet under the guidance of your primary care physician and adjust your insulin dose accordingly.
How to Know If It is Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is most often diagnosed in children between the ages of 10 and 14, although many children can develop symptoms as young as two years old. The prevalence is approximately 1.5 times higher in non-Hispanic white Americans compared to African-American or Hispanic individuals.
Risk factors for type 1 diabetes
The three most studied risk factors for type 1 diabetes include:
- Family history. Anyone with a parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes has a slightly increased risk of developing the condition.
- Genetics. Specific genes can increase the risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
- Age. Although type 1 diabetes can appear at any age, it is diagnosed in two prominent peaks.
The first peak occurs in children aged 4 to 7 years, and the second in children aged 10 to 14 years.
However, these are not the only three risk factors. Recent studies have found that the balance of bacteria in the microbiome of people with type 1 diabetes tends to differ from that of non-susceptible individuals. Vitamin D deficiency, gut health problems and dairy intolerance are also associated with a greater risk of type 1 diabetes.
However, having all of these risk factors does not mean you will have type 1 diabetes. Its symptoms will give us a clearer picture.
Can Keto Improve Type 1 Diabetes?
You may have heard that the keto diet is effective in reversing type 2 diabetes, but you may not know that keto is also beneficial for people with type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the type of diabetes most often mentioned in the context of the keto diet. Type 2 diabetes is lifestyle related and develops over time from insulin resistance and prediabetes. Eventually, the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas do not produce enough insulin to keep blood sugar stable, and the body’s cells do not respond well to the insulin present. On the other hand, type 1 diabetes is an organ-specific autoimmune disease that usually makes its debut in childhood, where the immune system attacks and destroys the pancreatic beta cells, eventually leading to a complete loss of insulin production. Regardless of diet, people with type 1 diabetes require daily insulin injections to lower blood sugar and ensure that glucose in the bloodstream can enter the cells of the body. In contrast, lifestyle changes such as keto or low-carb diets, exercise, and smoking cessation allow some people with type 2 diabetes to manage their condition without medications or insulin injections.
Who should Avoid Following a Keto Diet?
While the keto diet may be beneficial, it is not necessarily safe for everyone. People who should avoid the keto diet include:
- Children and teenagers: A diet that drastically changes the nutrients you consume can hinder growth and development.
- People recovering from sickness or medical treatment: The risk of blood sugar falling too low and ketone production rising too high increases.
- People with high cholesterol: High-fat diets can increase cholesterol further and influence heart disease risk
- People who struggle to stop their blood sugar from falling
If any of these apply to you, you are more likely to suffer serious adverse effects. Do not start a diet without the advice of a medical professional.
Important Warnings for People with Type 1 Diabetes Attempting a Keto Diet
If you have type 1 diabetes and are considering a keto diet, keep the following considerations in mind to stay as safe and healthy as possible.
If you manage your diabetes well, a keto diet can be safe. That said, it’s best to start by slowly reducing your carbohydrate intake to test whether your body can handle it.
1. Don’t start keto unsupervised
The keto diet isn’t for everyone, and going on a keto diet safely can be quite tricky. Talk to your doctor as you begin and throughout the diet.
Your doctor or dietitian can help you plan your diet while managing your diabetes and medications. They may also advise you against the keto diet if they feel you are at greater risk for complications.
If this is the case, you may need to take the time to get yourself well enough to go on a keto diet without complications. Following your doctor’s instructions will ensure that you are able to follow the diet safely and sustainably without serious problems.
2. Monitor your ketone levels
When on a keto diet, it is crucial to monitor your blood ketone levels to ensure that you do not develop ketoacidosis.
Your doctor will likely recommend that you have your blood ketone levels checked regularly. Keep an eye out for any symptoms of ketoacidosis, such as spikes in blood sugar (above 16.6 mmol/L), nausea, confusion, or feeling ” in a fog”.
This way, if you do go into ketoacidosis, you can seek treatment quickly.
The keto diet is very useful for controlling and managing the symptoms of diabetes. However, this diet is not suitable for everyone.
For example, you may have problems with blood sugar, ketoacidosis or increased cholesterol. It is essential to consult a medical professional before starting the diet and during the diet.
You should monitor your blood ketone bodies to make sure you are not developing ketoacidosis. The overall safety of the keto diet for people with type 1 diabetes depends on many factors, especially how well you manage your diabetes.
Your doctor will be able to advise whether it is right for you.