It is commonly believed that carbohydrates, particularly sugar, are a cause of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. However, such thinking has been challenged following the publication of a thorough appraisal of the evidence, in the latest edition of Nutrition Research Reviews.
Dr Neville McClenaghan, from the University of Ulster, conducted a large review of scientific studies investigating the effect of high and low carbohydrate diets on blood glucose control in people with and without diabetes.
The author of this review concludes that there is no evidence to suggest that carbohydrate-rich diets are a cause of insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes in humans. In fact, he suggests that diets rich in carbohydrates, which tend to be naturally low in fat may help improve insulin control. Furthermore it is well established that high fat diets, particularly those rich in saturates, not only interfere the normal action of insulin but also encourage weight gain, which itself increases risk of insulin resistance.
Many people with type 2 diabetes wrongly restrict the amount of carbohydrate in their diet. This paper adds weight to current dietary advice which recommends that meals should be based around carbohydrate rich foods, such as bread, pasta or rice, that there is no need to restrict sugars specifically, and that the amount of saturated fat in the diet is restricted.