Low-calorie diet offers hope of cure for type 2 diabetes

Scientists at Newcastle University have shown that people with obesity related type 2 diabetes can be cured, at least temporarily, by keeping to a an extreme low-calorie diet, reports The Guardian.

Although the study, funded by Diabetes UK, was small-scale, its findings are considered highly significant as they directly challenge the conventional medical view that diabetes is a life-long disease.

In the study, 11 type 2 diabetes patients had to slash their food intake to just 600 calories a day for two months. After the eight weeks the volunteers returned to a normal diet, after being given advice on healthy eating and portion size. Three months after the start of the trial seven of the 11 were free of diabetes.

“To have people free of diabetes after years with the condition is remarkable – and all because of an eight-week diet,” Roy Taylor, professor at Newcastle University, told The Guardian: “This is a radical change in understanding type 2 diabetes. It will change how we can explain it to people newly diagnosed with the condition. While it has long been believed that someone with type 2 diabetes will always have the disease, and that it will steadily get worse, we have shown that we can reverse the condition.”

The research, which is being presented today (June 24) at the American Diabetes Association conference, shows that an extremely low-calorie diet, consisting of diet drinks and non-starchy vegetables, prompts the body to remove the fat clogging the pancreas and preventing it from making insulin.

Dr Taylor added: “We believe this shows that type 2 diabetes is all about energy balance in the body,” said Taylor. “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 nutritionist, Patrick Holford, whose book Say No To Diabetes documents cases of type  2 diabetes sufferers whose diabetes has been reversed with a low GL (glycemic load) diet commented: “I believe that (this study is showing) the effect of eating what is essentially a very low GL diet. By cutting food intake so drastically the body not only burns fat, but also doesn’t need to produce insulin. The eight weeks allows a reversal of the conditions that led to diabetes in the first place.

“We get excellent results in diabetics following my Low GL Diet principles. Recently, a GP practice put 23 patients on the edge of diabetes through our Zest4Life programme for 12 weeks – diet only, no supplements. Glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c –a level above 7 means very high diabetes risk) went from 6.9 to 5.9 and the average weight lost was 1 stone (13lbs).