Diabetes ‘can be reversed through low calorie diet’
People with Type 2 diabetes could reverse their condition by following a very low calorie diet, according to new research.
The expert behind the study said the “remarkable” findings showed an eight-week diet could prompt the body to produce its own insulin.
The breakthrough suggests a dramatic drop in calories has a direct effect on reducing fat accumulated in the pancreas, which in turn prompts insulin cells to “wake up”.
Just 600 calories a day as part of a special diet could be enough to reverse Type 2 diabetes in some patients. The condition affects 3.5 million people in the UK.
The findings are consistent with the belief that a lack of insulin secretion — which is vital for blood sugar control — is due to accumulation of fat in the liver and pancreas.
Experts at Newcastle University carried out an early-stage trial on 11 people with diabetes.
They each followed a diet of liquid drinks (containing 46.4% carbohydrate, 32.5% protein and 20.1% fat, with vitamins and minerals) and non-starchy vegetables.
After just one week, pre-breakfast blood sugar levels had returned to normal among the group.
Over two months, insulin cell function in the pancreas increased towards normal and pancreatic fat decreased, as shown on MRI scans.
Three months later, after going back to normal eating with advice on portion control and healthy foods, seven people remained free of diabetes.
Professor Roy Taylor, of Newcastle University who led the study, said: “We have been able to put diabetes into reverse by a very low calorie diet over a short period of time. We are at quite an exciting point in terms of looking forward to really making an impact upon Type 2 diabetes.”