A recent study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism has shown a dietary approach that might reverse type 2 diabetes for millions of people currently suffering from this disease. Moreover, this approach costs nothing and does not require the use of pharmaceutical therapies.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, or when the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels. It is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for approximately 90-95% of all cases.
Type 2 diabetes can have serious health consequences if left untreated, provoking a range of complications including heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage, and amputation. People with type 2 diabetes are also at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which can further increase the risk of these complications. It is important for individuals with type 2 diabetes to carefully manage their blood sugar levels and make lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise, to prevent or delay the onset of these complications.
Historically, the costs of diabetes have been a major burden for both individuals and society. In the United States, the total direct and indirect costs of diabetes were estimated to be $327 billion in 2017; this includes the cost of medical care, as well as lost productivity and reduced quality of life, and is expected to reach $532 billion by 2030. The projected cost of diabetes is of concern as the prevalence of the disease is expected to increase in the coming years. It is estimated that the number of people with diabetes will reach 439 million by 2030, and 592 million by 2035. This increase is largely due to the aging population and the increasing prevalence of obesity, which is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes. The rising cost of diabetes will have significant implications for both individuals and society, and efforts to prevent and manage the disease are important in order to reduce these costs.
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting. It is not a diet in the traditional sense, as it does not specify which foods to eat, but rather when to eat.
Intermittent fasting has a long history, with roots in various social, cultural, and religious practices. In many cultures, fasting has been a common practice for spiritual or religious reasons, with people abstaining from food and drink for certain periods of time as a way to purify the body and mind or to show devotion to a deity. This approach has also been used as a way to improve health and wellbeing, with some traditional medical systems, such as Ayurveda in India and traditional Chinese medicine, recommending fasting as a way to cleanse the body and promote healing.
Clinically speaking, intermittent fasting has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, and improved heart health. It may also have benefits for brain health and may even help to reduce the risk of certain diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. However, more research is needed to fully understand the long-term effects of intermittent fasting and to determine the extent of its benefits and the best approach for individuals.
This recent study examined the effectiveness of Chinese Medical Nutrition Therapy (CMNT), an intermittent fasting diet, in achieving diabetes remission. Participants having a normal to overweight BMI between the ages of 38 and 72 who had been living with type 2 diabetes for 1 to 11 years and previously requiring the use of insulin or other antidiabetic therapies were randomly assigned to either the CMNT (intermittent fasting) or control group. The study intended to examine the effect of CMNT relative to diabetes remission as defined by the maintenance of a consistent HbA1c level—a well-established measure of glucose metabolism and indicator of type 2 diabetes—below 48 mmol/mol for at least three months after discontinuing all antidiabetic medications. In addition to HbA1c level, fasting blood glucose level, blood pressure, body weight, and quality of life were also observed.
Participants were assessed after 3 months of intervention and at 3 months post-intervention. In addition, the researchers conducted a 12-month follow-up to see if remission was sustained.
In the CMNT group, 47.2% of participants achieved diabetes remission after completing the 3-month intervention and 3-month follow-up. In contrast, only 2.8% of the control group achieved remission. The body weight of participants in the CMNT group was reduced by an average of 13.1 pounds, while the body weight of participants in the control group was reduced by an average of 0.6 pounds. During the 12-month follow-up period, 44.0% of participants in the CMNT group still maintained a state of diabetic remission.
Unsurprisingly, the study also found that participants with shorter diabetes duration, lower HbA1c levels, and fewer antidiabetic medications at baseline were more likely to achieve diabetes remission. In addition, the study found that the CMNT diet was associated with persistent improvements in HbA1c level, fasting blood glucose level, blood pressure, and quality of life.
This research indicates that an intermittent fasting dietary approach might offer a promising tool for the clinical management of type 2 diabetes. Further research is needed to understand its long-term sustainability and mechanisms of action.