People with diabetes who fast intermittently may no longer need medication, according to a new study.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, more than 37 million Americans have diabetes, of which approximately 90-95% have type 2 diabetes. There are effective drugs, such as metformin (which carries many brands, including Glucophage, Fortamet, Glumetza, and Riomet). It is also known that a healthy diet and regular physical activity are essential for the control of diabetes. Now, a new study reveals that an intermittent fasting diet can reverse type 2 diabetes without the need for medication.
Patients achieved complete diabetes remission after an intermittent fasting diet intervention, according to a new research study. Complete remission of diabetes is defined as an HbA1c (average blood sugar) level below 6.5% at least one year after stopping diabetes medications. The details were published Dec. 14 in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
In recent years, intermittent fasting diets have become popular as an effective weight loss method. Studies have also shown that these diets can help fight inflammation and lead to a longer, healthier life. With intermittent fasting, you only eat during a specific window of time. Fasting for a certain number of hours each day or eating just one meal a few days a week can help your body burn fat. Research shows that intermittent fasting can reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
“Type 2 diabetes is not necessarily a lifelong, permanent disease. Diabetes remission is possible if patients lose weight by changing their diet and exercise habits,” said Dongbo Liu, Ph.D., of Hunan Agricultural University in Changsha, China. “Our research shows that intermittent fasting, Chinese Medical Nutrition Therapy (CMNT), can lead to diabetes remission in people with type 2 diabetes, and these findings could have a major impact on the more than 537 million adults in the world who suffer from the disease.
Scientists conducted a 3-month intermittent fasting diet intervention with 36 people with diabetes and found that nearly 90% of participants, including those taking blood sugar lowering medications and insulin, reduced their medication intake against diabetes after intermittent fasting. Fifty-five percent of these people experienced diabetes remission, stopped diabetes treatment, and maintained it for at least a year.
The study results challenge the conventional view that diabetes remission can only be achieved in people with a shorter duration of diabetes (0-6 years). In fact, sixty-five percent of study participants who achieved diabetes remission had a diabetes duration of more than 6 years (6-11 years).
“Diabetes medications are expensive and a barrier for many patients trying to effectively manage their diabetes. Our study saw drug costs decrease by 77% in people with diabetes after intermittent fasting,” Liu said.
Reference: “Effect of an intermittent calorie-restricted diet on remission in type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial” by Xiao Yang, Jiali Zhou, Huige Shao, Bi Huang, Xincong Kang, Ruiyu Wu, Fangzhou Bian, Minghai Hu and Dongbo Liu, December 14, 2022, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
The other authors of this study are Xiao Yang of Hunan Agricultural University, State Key Laboratory of Subhealth Intervention Technology and Changsha and Tourism College in Changsha, China; Jiali Zhou from Hunan Agricultural University and Shizi Mountain Primary Care Department in Changsha, China; Huige Shao and Bi Huang from Changsha Central Hospital in Changsha, China; Xincong Kang of Hunan Agricultural University, the National Engineering Technology Research Center for the Utilization of Botanical Ingredients, and the Provincial Engineering Research Center for Medical Nutrition Intervention Technology for Metabolic Diseases in Changsha, China; Ruiyu Wu of Hunan Agricultural University and the State Key Laboratory of Subhealth Intervention Technology Achievement Application Center in Changsha, China; Fangzhou Bian of the University of California Irvine in Irvine, California; and Minghai Hu from Central South University in Changsha, China.
The study received funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China.
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