Reversal of Type 2 Diabetes following Low Calorie Diet

Diabetes mellitus occurs as a result of elevated glucose (sugar) in the blood and is generally classified into two major subtypes – Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes (1).  There are about two million people in the UK who have diabetes and Type 2 diabetes is the predominant form, affecting nine out of every 10 people with diabetes (2). Type 1 diabetes arises due to the failure of the body to produce insulin and is characterised by depletion of insulin-producing cells. Type 2 diabetes arises due to not making enough insulin for your body’s needs or as a result of the inability of cells in the body to utilise available insulin efficiently. This is referred to as ‘insulin resistance’ where the cells in your body become resistant to normal levels of insulin- especially in muscle, fat and liver cells. As a consequence of this, more insulin than is normally produced is required to keep the blood glucose level down (3).

A Diabetologia study by Newcastle University researchers has found that an extreme eight-week diet of 600 calories a day can reverse Type 2 diabetes in people newly diagnosed with the disease (4). The research, which was funded by the charity Diabetes UK, was a small scale study involving only 11 patients with type 2 diabetes. Participants had to drastically reduce their food intake and the diet consisting of liquid diet drinks and non-starchy vegetables (6). Insulin production from their pancreas and fat content in the liver and pancreas were subsequently measured. The study found that this low calorie diet caused a reduction in fat levels in the pancreas and liver that facilitated insulin production returning to normal (4). Strikingly, it was found that following one week of the diet, pre-breakfast blood sugar levels of all participants had returned to normal. Furthermore, seven of the 11 participants were free of diabetes when assessed three months after the trial.  Lead researcher Roy Taylor commented “This is a radical change in understanding Type 2 diabetes.  It will change how we can explain it to people newly diagnosed with diabetes. While it has long been believed that someone with type 2 diabetes will always have the disease, and that it will steadily get worse, we have shown that we can reverse the condition.” (5).

Further information on diagnosis of diabetes.



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