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Low-calorie diet 'can reverse type 2 diabetes'

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Farah Ahmed
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14th September 2017 – A body of work that says putting people on a low-calorie diet can help reverse type 2 diabetes has been presented at an international conference this week.

The research findings have been showcased as a new study says patients and doctors are largely unaware that the condition can be reversed.

Progressive or reversible?

Type 2 diabetes is largely seen as a progressive disease accompanied by increasing health problems and reliance on medication.

Speaking at the European Association for the study of Diabetes (EASD 2017) in Lisbon, Portugal, Professor Roy Taylor from Newcastle University says he is able to confirm a 'twin cycle hypothesis'. This means that diabetes is caused by excess fat within the liver and the pancreas.

He says he has been able to demonstrate from nearly 4 decades of research that type 2 diabetes can be reversed for at least 10 years after diagnosis if the fat can be eliminated.

According to Professor Taylor, excess fat causes the liver to respond poorly to insulin. Because insulin controls the normal process of making glucose, the liver then produces too much glucose. At the same time, excess fat in the liver increases the normal process of export of fat to all tissues. Excess fat in the pancreas, causes the insulin producing cells to fail.

Drastic calorie restriction

A 2011 study found that if excess food intake was sharply reduced, all these abnormal factors would be reduced. Published in the journal Diabetologia, it involved 11 people who had developed diabetes late in life who were put on an extreme diet of just 600 calories a day plus 200 calories of non-starchy vegetables. After 3 months, seven of the individuals were free of diabetes.

Professor Taylor told the conference they have since been able to demonstrate that people who successfully reverse their diabetes and then keep their weight down can remain free of the condition.

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