The secret to reversing the effects of type 2 diabetes may lie in calorie intake.
The link between a very low-calorie diet and the illness was discovered by a team of researchers from Yale University. For their study, the scientists used rats that had the disease and put them on a calorie-restricted diet where they ate about 25% of their normal food intake.
The study, published in Cell Metabolism, was inspired by the fact that many people with type 2 diabetes achieve remission after undergoing weight-loss surgery — which significantly reduces calorie intake before and after the procedure.
About one in three Americans will have type 2 diabetes by 2050, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Using this approach to comprehensively interrogate liver carbohydrate and fat metabolism, we showed that it is a combination of three mechanisms that is responsible for the rapid reversal of hyperglycemia following a very low calorie diet,” lead author Gerald I. Shulman said in a statement.
In only three days, the rats had significantly lower blood glucose levels, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The new diet decreased the amount of lactose and amino acids in the rats’ bodies that became glucose and reduced the rate of liver glycogen-to-glucose. It also helped the rats livers respond to insulin more efficiently through a loss of body fat.
The Yale News said that the next step will be to apply these findings in a human study.
“These results,” Shulman said, “if confirmed in humans, will provide us with novel drug targets to more effectively treat patients with type 2 diabetes.”