Type 2 diabetes is reversible for up to 10 years if patients undergo a low-calorie diet and don’t regain the weight after losing it.
Diabetics, within only seven days of being on this diet, saw their insulin sensitivity return to normal due to the reduction of fat content in liver.
After eight weeks the pancreas’ fat content was reduced, insulin secretion and glucose control went back to normal levels.
Professor Roy Taylor, who has studied the condition for more than 40 years, presented these findings at the European Association For The Study Of Diabetes.
- Eating too much causes excessive fat in the liver and therefore the liver reacts poorly to insulin, producing lots of glucose (sugar).
- Any excess glucose will be stored in the muscles or as lipids in adipose cells also known as fat tissue.
- The excessive fat from the liver passes to the pancreas making pancreatic cells fail to produce insulin.
- But this can be reversed with dieting as by losing 1 gram of fat from the pancreas, insulin production can go back to normal and type 2 diabetes will be reversed.
- Beating diabetes through a low-calorie diet is achievable for 10 years after the condition starts.
Professor Taylor, said:
“The good news for people with Type 2 diabetes is that our work shows that even if you have had the condition for 10 years, you are likely to be able to reverse it by moving that all important tiny amount of fat out of the pancreas.
At present, this can only be done through substantial weight loss.”
Past studies show that all these abnormalities could be switched off if excessive eating is sharply reduced by a very-low-calorie diet (VLCD) also known as a crash diet.
A counterbalance study demonstrated that the metabolism will return to normal after losing weight as long as diabetes patients keep maintaining the weight loss.
Professor Taylor, explained:
“Surprisingly, it was observed that the diet devised as an experimental tool was actually liked by research participants.
It was associated with no hunger and no tiredness in most people, but with rapidly increased wellbeing.
The ‘One, Two’ approach used in the Counterbalance study was a defined two phase programme.
The Phase 1 is the period of weight loss — calorie restriction without additional exercise.
A carefully planned transition period leads to Phase 2 — long term supported weight maintenance by modest calorie restriction with increased daily physical activity.”
People with diabetes who followed this approach lost around 15 kg of weight and had normal glucose levels for many years.
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was presented at the European Association For The Study Of Diabetes (EASD 2017) in Lisbon.