Low-carb diet lowers type 2 diabetes risk in women who have had gestational diabetes

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Women who have had gestational diabetes can reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by following a plant-based low-carb diet, according to new research.

The study, conducted by researchers at the National Institutes of Health, provides further evidence of the effectiveness of a low-carb diet in reducing the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Women who develop gestational diabetes have a significantly higher risk of type 2 diabetes later in life, and this study suggests that restricting carbohydrate reduces that risk.

The researchers analysed data from 4,502 women, all of whom had a history of gestational diabetes. Over 20 years – from 1991 to 2011 – the participants answered food-related questionnaires, and the researchers calculated each participant’s adherence to low-carb dietary patterns.

722 participants developed type 2 diabetes during the study, with the risk much lower for women who followed a low-carbohydrate diet.

“In the prospective cohort study with up to 20 years of follow-up, we observed that a dietary score representing a low-carbohydrate, high animal protein and high animal fat dietary pattern was significantly associated with [type 2 diabetes] risk among women with a history of [gestational diabetes],” wrote Wei Bao, MD, PhD, an epidemiologist at the NIH and a visiting assistant professor at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.

“Women with a history of [gestational diabetes] who follow a low-carbohydrate dietary pattern may consider consuming plant sources rather than animal sources of protein and fat to minimise their future risk for [type 2 diabetes].”

The findings are published in Diabetes Care.

Numerous studies have found that low-carbohydrate diets are effective for reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, improving weight loss and lowering blood glucose levels. The brand new Low-Carb Program, released on World Diabetes Day 2015, provides a structured, step-by-step guide to following the low-carb diet.