Fact check: Can low carb, high fat cure your diabetes

The promoters of the film “Cereal Killers” have been posting a quote indicating that a high fat, low carbohydrate diet would cure (apparently instantly) diabetes.

low carbohydrate, high fat cure diabetes

We have not seen the movie so we will be looking at this claim without any surrounding context since that is how the promoters released it.

Pharmaceutical Companies

The first thing about this claim that pharmaceutical companies profit heavily from antidiabetic medications is certainly true. Diabetes management is the second most profitable therapy area for pharmaceuticals after oncology 1. Several diabetes medications are also top sellers worldwide 2.  In fact, we frequently run clinical trials for new diabetes treatments and in our opinion the development of new medications for diabetes is not likely to slow any time soon.

This is actually a good thing. Diabetes is a progressive condition and insulin becomes more resistant and the pancreas less effective at converting glucose to energy over time. This is the natural course of the condition and not a failure on the part of the person with diabetes. As the disease progresses, more medication will be needed in order to assist the pancreas in the conversion of glucose into energy and so avoid complications. The presence of new and more effective medications on the market means that health complications associated with diabetes can be avoided or at least delayed.

Having a wide range of medications available also gives the doctor the ability to choose the most suitable medication for an individual’s health history. It also provides options to the individual with diabetes, allowing them to take different medication when side effects occur. This improves quality of life and increases the likelihood  that medication is taken correctly. These factors combine to improve the overall health of the individual with diabetes.


Low-Carb High Fat Diet

So lets move onto the second part of the claim. Is a high fat, low carb diet a cure for diabetes?  Well certainly a healthy lifestyle is important in the management of diabetes and may prevent or delay its onset (although not in all cases). However the best diet for this healthy lifestyle is still under debate. There are some studies indicating a benefit to a high fat, low carb diet but there are also studies showing the opposite with lower fat, higher carb diets improving HBA1C. Others consider debates about amounts of food to be missing the point altogether and consider the quality of the food to be more important.

The ‘perfect’ diet for a person with diabetes is most likely similar to the ‘perfect’ medication schedule needing to be tailored to the individuals needs. Other health issues, ‘side effects’ of certain foods, cultural factors and personal preference all work together to indicate what the best diet is. After all, the best diet is the healthiest one that that you stick too. So some people may have great sucess in managing their diet on a high fat, low carbohydrate diet, others will have more luck on the more traditional low fat, moderate carbohydrate diet. Still others may find a completely different diet such as the 5:2 diet better for their glycaemic control or may largely ignore their diet in favour of exercise.  It is for this reason that we recommend people with diabetes access dietary and diabetes education services to determine the best diet for them.

Don’t follow what a movie says, talk to your doctor or health care professional.