Researchers have tested a drink containing a ketone supplement and found that it can limit spikes in blood sugar experienced after consuming carbohydrate.

The development could be of benefit to type two diabetics – individuals whose bodies do not produce enough of the hormone insulin – leading to a high blood sugar levels as there is not enough insulin to move sugar from the blood to the cells. A patient suffering from high blood sugar levels for several years is at risk of damage to their eyes, kidneys and feet, and is more likely to suffer from heart diseases and strokes.

Teams from the University of British Columbia and the University of Oxford demonstrated that individuals who consume a drink containing ketones – compounds produced when the body burns fat – are less susceptible to spikes in blood sugar. In their experiment, 20 healthy individuals were given the ketone drink, or a placebo, following a ten-hour fast, and then consumed a drink containing 75 grams of sugar.

Over the course of the two and a half hour test, blood samples were collected from the participants every 15-30 minutes. The team reported that ‘compared to the placebo, the blood sugar spike was reduced on the day that the individuals had consumed the ketone drink.’

“If ketone drinks could lower blood sugar, then I think there is a possibility they could be used to help manage diabetes,” said Professor Jonathan Little, from the University of British Columbia. However, he did explain that the study was not comprehensive.

“Our study was done in healthy young participants but if the same responses were seen in people with, or at risk for, type 2 diabetes then it is possible that a ketone monoester supplement could be used to lower glucose levels and improve metabolic health. We are working on these studies at the moment,” Little said. “I would not recommend people with diabetes to take any form of ketone supplement at this stage, and if they were to consider this they would have to consult with their medical doctor.”

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Diabetes is becoming an increasingly common and intense condition in the UK. Diabetes UK reported a 14% increase in cases of type two diabetes in children, and the rate of type two diabetics suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis, a short-term complication leaving patients dehydrated and vomiting, rose by 4% each year from 1998 to 2013.