A British University study has found that patients with Type 2 diabetes were able to completely reverse the disorder through diet alone. The Newcastle University ran a study with just 11 patients and put them on a low carb and 600 calorie a day diet for eight weeks.
The research found that the extremely low calorie diet removed fat from the pancreas which then allowed normal insulin levels to be secreted. The researchers at the Northern England based university also discovered that 7 of the 11 patients remained free from diabetes 3 months after the diet had finished.
The diet consisted mainly of non-starchy vegetables and diet drinks, and over the eight week period the volunteers had the amount of fat in their livers monitored, along with the insulin in their pancreas. These results were then compared to a group of individuals who did not suffer from diabetes.
The results were astonishing; with pre-breakfast blood sugar levels at normal after just one week of the trial. MRI scans showed that the fat levels in the pancreas had dropped, allowing the organ to produce more insulin.
Professor Rob Taylor, who led the trial, said: “To have people free of diabetes after years with the condition is remarkable – and all because of an eight week diet.”
Professor Taylor, who is director of Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Centre, continued:
“We believe this shows that type 2 diabetes is all about energy balance in the body. If you are eating more than you burn, then the excess is stored in the liver and pancreas as fat, which can lead to type 2 diabetes in some people. What we need to examine further is why some people are more susceptible to developing diabetes than others.”
The disease, also referred to as adult-onset diabetes, develops when the pancreas cannot make enough insulin to regulate the blood sugar levels and fat metabolism. It differs from Type 1 diabetes (juvenile diabetes), which is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the cells that produce insulin.
Gordon Parmley from Newcastle, was one of the patients on the trial, the 67 year old ate only vegetables and salads and drank 3 diet shakes a day. He said that he found the diet incredibly difficult: “At first the hunger was quite severe and I had to distract myself with something else – walking the dog, playing golf – or doing anything to occupy myself and take my mind off food. But I lost an astounding amount of weight in a short space of time … after six years, I no longer needed my diabetes tablets.”
Indeed Professor Taylor himself warned that only a minority of people, perhaps 5% or 10%, would be able to stick to the harsh diet necessary to get rid of diabetes, and that diabetes sufferers should not undergo such a drastic diet without full medical support from their doctor.
Scientists at Diabetes UK, who commissioned the study said that although the trial was with a very small number of people they were looking forward to future results. Particularly if those results showed that diabetes could be completely reversed in the long term.