Diabetes is a problem with your body’s blood glucose levels rising higher than normal. Another name for it is hyperglycemia. There are two different types of diabetes, and type 2 is the most common. If you suffer from type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin properly. To begin with, your pancreas makes extra insulin, but over time, it can’t make enough to keep your blood glucose levels normal. Treating diabetes is usually done with a combination of diet, exercise, and medication. It also involves regularly checking your blood sugar levels to see how well a treatment is working. Sometimes medication can stop working, and you also need to adjust to changes in your body as you get older. Recent studies have discovered that type 2 diabetes can be reversed with a low-calorie diet.
A Study Funded by Diabetes UK
Called Direct, short for Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial, the study was led by Professor Roy Taylor at Newcastle University, and Professor Mike Lean at the University of Glasgow. The aim of the study was to find out whether intensive, low-calorie diet-based, weight management plans could put type 2 diabetes into remission. The study was building on the results of two smaller studies that had already provided positive indications of the value of a low-calorie diet for sufferers of type 2 diabetes.
What Did the Smaller Studies Show?
A small group of people suffering from type 2 diabetes were put on a low-calorie diet for eight weeks. After that time, it was found that the amount of fat in their liver and pancreas had been reduced. The result of those reductions was the ability to produce insulin again and put their diabetes into remission. Six months after the study, some were still in remission.
What the DiRECT Study Involved
The more recent study, called Direct, was carried out in several general practices in Scotland and Tyneside. Adult participants had a BMI that signified they were either overweight or obese. The participants were either put on a weight management program that involved a reduction in calories or underwent the standard form of diabetes care.
There were three phases in the program. The first included three months of diet replacement using a low-energy formula diet. Calorie intake was reduced to between 825 to 853kcal a day. Food was then reintroduced over a period of 2 to 8 weeks. Finally, there was an ongoing structured program that included monthly meetings for maintenance of the weight loss. Blood glucose and blood pressure were regularly monitored throughout the program.
What Were the Basic Results?
By the end of the 12 months, one quarter of the diet group had lost at least 15kg. In the control group, this had not happened. On average, their body weight had only fallen by 1kg. BMI also changed in a similar way. In the total diet replacement phase, most of the weight was lost. In the following phases, there tended to be small gains of 1 to 2kg.
The results for diabetes remission were even better. It was achieved by 46% of the diet group, compared with only 4% of the control group. It also only happened for those participants who had lost weight.
At the end of the 12 months, three quarters of those in the diet group had stopped taking medication. Only 18% in the control group were able to do so.
Can a Low-Calorie Diet Work for You?
There is still a lot of research to be done to confirm that a low-calorie diet is an effective way to reverse type 2 diabetes. It’s certainly not a quick fix, and it’s not recommended you try it on your own. Being on a low-calorie diet can be very challenging and should only be done under supervision. Before you start such a diet, it’s important to speak with your doctor or a dietician. If you’re already taking medication for your condition, this may need to be adjusted. You’ll also need to check your blood sugar levels more often.
Reversing type 2 diabetes is not the only benefit of a low-calorie diet. It has also been shown to reverse the signs of aging, improve sleep, better moods, less daily tensions and better health overall. Not surprisingly, it can also lead to loss of weight and the improvements associated with this, such as a lower risk of heart disease or stroke. With these benefits to consider, it might be your ideal for you to implement this lifestyle change yourself, and see improvements sooner than you may think.