The role of protein in the diet of people with diabetes has been the subject of some controversy. For many years, it was thought that most of the protein that was eaten was converted to glucose in the liver and entered the bloodstream, raising blood glucose levels. New research, however, has shown that while about half of the protein is in fact converted to glucose, it does not enter the bloodstream. Where it goes remains a mystery -- but it probably doesn't affect blood glucose levels.
Experts today recommend that people with diabetes include protein in their diets as about 17 percent of calories -- the same recommendation as for everyone else. There is evidence that people with diabetes whose protein intake exceeds 20 percent of daily calories may be more likely to develop the early signs of kidney disease. If kidney disease is already present, reducing protein intake has been shown to slow the progression of the disease.
Much has been learned -- we now know that protein doesn't change the peak glucose response to eating and it doesn't help in the treatment of hypoglycemia. More research is needed, however, to pinpoint the precise effects of protein in people with diabetes.
Complications - Kidney |
Lifestyle - Diet
Source: Franz MJ. Protein - New research, new recommendations. Diabetes Self-Management, November/December 2001;85-87.