News Wednesday September 9, 2015

Can Diabetes Be 'Cured' With A Low Calorie Diet?

Eating a low calorie diet is always a good idea unless you are seriously underweight. Obesity is a problem causing heart disease and diabetes worldwide, but now a study has shown how eating a seriously low calorie diet can reverse diabetes. There is no cure for type 1 diabetes, but for type 2 it might just be possible.

What's The Science?

In 2011, a research trial from Newcastle University studied diabetic folk following a strict 600-calorie diet. The diet was comprised of meal replacement drinks and non-starchy vegetables - so it's hardly a diet you will want to follow, although it's certainly better than living with diabetes or facing gastric band surgery.

The study found that after 8 weeks of the diet (otherwise known as the hellish diet from hell) 7 out of 11 diabetics were free of diabetes. Their pre-breakfast insulin levels were normal.

There are still years of research to carry out, because the study isn't due to finish until 2018, but it's good that encouraging results are breaking through already. In the long term it remains to be seen if the results remain static or if there are undesirable side effects. The next step is for GPs to roll out a small trial on diabetic patients in the community.

How Does It Work?

It seems that the lack of calories prompts the pancreas to shed any fat clogging it up. This stimulates the insulin-producing cells so they start to function again. That doesn't mean that patients can eat whatever they want again afterwards. This diet is a reprieve that pulls them back from full-blown diabetes.

Were There Any Side Effects?

Yes. You can probably guess what they were!

  • Hunger
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling cold

I should imagine extreme grumpiness, crying and cravings the size of an entire nation were also experienced.

Should I Try It?

Probably not at home. A very low calorie diet can be dangerous for anyone, let alone those with diabetes. The research trial was completed with close medical supervision, and future trials will also be monitored and supported by medical professionals.

If you have type 2 diabetes then you need to make sure your glucose levels are stable at all times. Eating too little may lead to a sugar level crash and then you're in trouble, but if you can come up with a healthy eating plan alongside your heath provider, then that's certainly worth the effort.

Low calorie doesn't mean staving yourself of everything. It's about eating a sensible, balanced diet with fruit, vegetables and low levels of sugar, fats and salt - which we should all be doing anyway.

It's exciting to think that in the future type 2 diabetics may not have to resort to extreme surgery or medication. They may be able to eat extremely low fat for several months and chase off diabetes completely. Fingers crossed this is the case, because there are millions of people that would love to have a second chance at a healthy, diabetes-free lifestyle.

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