Improve Your Metabolic Health With Good Nutrition

Who We Are

The Department of Nutrition Sciences at UAB is comprised of experts with experience conducting research to identify effective dietary strategies to prevent and treat diseases of metabolic origins including type 2 diabetes (T2D), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and obesity. The investigators have firsthand experience working with patients to reduce or eliminate use of medications and using nutritional approaches to reverse disease in a variety of disease states and populations. You can read more about us under the “About Us” tab, and you can read our research articles under the “Resources” tab.

Our Dedicated Team

Our team is committed to helping all individuals living with chronic metabolic disease achieve sustained, good health. This begins with addressing the root cause, which is not your body weight, but other factors, including the way your genes and physiology interact with nutrition.

Type 2 diabetes is a risk factor for, and is related to, other metabolic diseases. Thus, we prescribe diets that address not only T2D but all metabolic diseases, including obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.


As the name implies, prediabetes is a condition that occurs before type 2 diabetes, and is characterized by elevated blood glucose (“sugar”) in the fasted state and/or after eating a meal. Clinically, prediabetes is diagnosed as fasted blood glucose ≥100 mg/dL or 2-h glucose ≥140 mg/dL following a 75-g oral glucose challenge. Not all patients with prediabetes progress to T2D. Nonetheless, treatment of prediabetes is recommended to avoid progression. Diets low in carbohydrate, especially those low in sugar and highly processed starches, are an effective treatment for prediabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) occurs when insulin secretion by the beta cells of the pancreas is insufficient to control blood glucose. Clinically, it is diagnosed as fasted blood glucose ≥126 mg/dL or 2-h glucose ≥200 mg/dL following a 75-g oral glucose challenge. Although drugs are often prescribed for T2D, they invariably have undesirable side effects, and are sometimes costly. Individuals with T2D unanimously report a desire to discontinue medication. T2D can be managed by a carefully formulated diet that minimizes the elevation in blood glucose that often occurs following a meal. Diet therapy also can lower fasted blood glucose by decreasing the amount of glucose produced by the liver. We have seen blood glucose levels drop within days of starting a carbohydrate-restricted diet in patients with T2D who have discontinued their medication. Changes in diet will result in changes in your need for T2D medication. Your doctor may want to reduce your doses of medications when you start your new diet.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) increases risk for liver failure and liver cancer. Although it has a strong genetic component, it is also affected by diet. However, currently, nutrition guidelines do not exist for NAFLD. Rather, “weight loss” is commonly recommended as a treatment for NAFLD. Weight loss is difficult to achieve for many, and intentional weight loss is often not sustainable. Our research study results, and those of others, have shown that NAFLD responds favorably to dietary carbohydrate restriction. If you have NAFLD, we can help you treat it with a diet that is low in carbohydrates.

Obesity and Weight Loss

Metabolic disease often occurs with weight gain in the context of a genetic susceptibility to disease. Obesity does not cause disease, and individuals with obesity can be healthy. However, we recognize that carrying excess weight can be undesirable, and we want to help you achieve a weight that you are happy with. We have found that weight loss occurs naturally if the diet is adjusted to match the metabolic needs of the patient. Weight loss should not involve starvation and deprivation. It should involve transitioning to a healthful diet and allowing nature to take its course. The new diet should become a lifestyle; it should not be a transient period of energy restriction. Temporary diets lead to weight regain and frustration. We want our patients to have a sustainable, enjoyable diet that allows them to maintain a healthy body weight.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is metabolic disease?

Metabolic health refers to your body’s ability to use or store the food you eat as energy. Declining metabolic health occurs when the food (i.e., energy) you eat is used or stored inappropriately. Over time, this inability to appropriately use the energy you eat can lead to the development of metabolic disease, such as type 2 diabetes (T2D), cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, or cancer.

Do you have to lose weight to improve your metabolic health?

Not necessarily. Sometimes just changing what you eat can improve metabolic health. We think this occurs because ectopic fat (metabolically harmful fat) is preferentially depleted.

Why do I have type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) often results from weight gain superimposed on a susceptible genetic background. However, T2D is a heterogeneous disease, meaning that it has multiple origins. In some cases, it is due mainly to failure of the beta cells of the pancreas to produce enough insulin, and has little to do with body weight, weight gain, or obesity. All patients with T2D have a relative deficiency in the ability of the beta cells of the pancreas to produce sufficient insulin. This means that insulin is not available for use in metabolizing blood sugar, and it is not available to reduce the liver’s production of glucose (sugar).

Must I use drugs to treat my type 2 diabetes?

Drugs can be helpful, but many times they are not necessary, particularly in the early stages of T2D. The elevated blood sugar that commonly occurs with T2D derives both from eating sugary or starchy foods, and from the body’s production of glucose by the liver. Although everyone’s liver produces some glucose, in T2D, the liver produces more than is necessary. A key component of treating T2D is to get the liver to produce less glucose.

Can I treat my type 2 diabetes with lifestyle?

Yes. In many cases T2D responds favorably to lifestyle interventions, particularly diet. Although exercise is helpful for disposing of blood sugar, low-sugar diets can help lower fasting blood sugar, and these diets also can prevent the need for insulin secretion following meals. Foods low in sugar do not require the release of insulin for their metabolism. As a result, even in people with T2D (who produce low amounts of insulin), low sugar foods do not result in elevated blood sugar.

Will this web site help me control my blood sugar and my type 2 diabetes?

This web site has resources that will provide background information on T2D, and get you started on a low-sugar diet. The low-sugar diet might help you manage your T2D without medication.  It is critical that you talk with your doctor before changing your diet. Changes in diet will result in changes in your need for T2D medication. Your doctor may want to reduce your doses of medications when you start your new diet.

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