Low-carb diets and type 2 diabetes: how they affect mortality

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Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a common condition that affects many people around the world.

It is characterized by high blood sugar levels and can lead to various health complications. Researchers have been studying the impact of different dietary patterns on the management and outcomes of T2D.

In this study, scientists investigated the association between low-carbohydrate diet (LCD) patterns and mortality among individuals with T2D.

Understanding Low-Carbohydrate Diets

Low-carbohydrate diets, as the name suggests, involve reducing the consumption of carbohydrates, which are found in foods like bread, rice, and pasta.

Instead, these diets focus on higher intakes of protein, healthy fats, and non-starchy vegetables.

LCDs have gained popularity as an alternative dietary approach for managing diabetes and other health conditions.

The Study

The researchers analyzed data from two large studies, the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which included participants with incident diabetes.

They calculated a total LCD score (TLCDS) based on the percentage of energy derived from total carbohydrates.

Additionally, they derived other LCD scores that emphasized specific types of macronutrients, such as vegetable (VLCDS), animal (ALCDS), healthy (HLCDS), and unhealthy (ULCDS) LCDs.

The participants were followed over time to assess the association between LCD patterns and mortality.


Among the 10,101 individuals with T2D, the researchers documented 4,595 deaths during the study period.

They found that higher adherence to LCD patterns, especially those emphasizing high-quality sources of macronutrients, was associated with lower total mortality.

For every 10-point increase in TLCDS, VLCDS, and HLCDS from pre-diagnosis to post-diagnosis, there was a significant reduction in total mortality by 12%, 25%, and 25%, respectively.

Beneficial Effects on Cardiovascular and Cancer Mortality

The study also revealed that both VLCDS and HLCDS were linked to significantly lower cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer mortality.

This suggests that choosing LCD patterns that prioritize healthier sources of macronutrients may have a positive impact on these specific causes of death among individuals with T2D.

No Significant Associations with ALCDS and ULCDS

In contrast, the study did not find significant associations between animal-based (ALCDS) or unhealthy (ULCDS) LCD patterns and mortality.

This indicates that the quality of macronutrients consumed on an LCD may play a crucial role in its potential health benefits.

Implications and Future Research

These findings provide valuable insights into the potential benefits of LCD patterns for individuals with T2D.

Adhering to LCD patterns that emphasize high-quality sources of macronutrients may help reduce the risk of mortality, especially from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

However, it is important to note that this study was conducted on individuals with T2D, and further research is needed to confirm these findings and explore the impact on other populations.


The association between low-carbohydrate diet patterns and mortality in individuals with type 2 diabetes has been examined in this study.

The results suggest that adhering to LCD patterns that prioritize high-quality macronutrient sources may lead to lower overall mortality rates, as well as reduced mortality from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

These findings contribute to our understanding of the potential benefits of LCDs in managing and improving outcomes for individuals with type 2 diabetes.

Further research is needed to validate these findings and explore their applicability to other populations.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies that pomace olive oil could help lower blood cholesterol, and honey could help control blood sugar.

For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies about Vitamin D that may reduce dangerous complications in diabetes and results showing plant-based protein foods may help reverse type 2 diabetes.

The study is published in Diabetes Care.

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