Type 2 diabetes may not have to last forever.
A clinical trial has shown that a reversal of type 2 diabetes is possible by following an extremely low-calorie diet.
The trial, done at the Magnetic Resonance Center at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, looked at 306 participants recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the last six years.
Half were treated using normal diabetes treatment, including medications and weight-loss counseling, while the other half were given a strict low-calorie diet with no medication.
The diet was no more than 850 calories a day made up of four shakes or soups for three to five months, followed by slow reintroduction of food over two to eight weeks. The participants were also given cognitive behavior therapy for maintaing proper nutritional habits and encouraged to exercise.
After a year, 24% of the diet test participants lost 33 pounds or more, while no one in the control group lost any weight. Forty-six percent of participants in the test group reversed their diabetes and went into remission, while only 4% of the control group saw their diabetes go away. Thirty-one of 36 participants who lost 33 pounds of more experienced remission.
Low-calorie diets can not only help one manage diabetes and encourage weight loss, but can also perhaps send diabetes into remission.
“These findings are very exciting. They could revolutionize the way type 2 diabetes is treated. This builds on the work into the underlying cause of the condition, so that we can target management effectively,” Prof Roy Taylor from Newcastle University, lead researcher in the trial funded by Diabetes UK told the Guardian.
In the United States, about 30 million people have type 2 diabetes. Diabetes remission can also be achieved with bariatric weight loss surgery, but it’s more expensive and risky than a change in diet.
“What we’re seeing (…) is that losing weight isn’t just linked to better management of type 2 diabetes: significant weight loss could actually result in lasting remission,” said Taylor.