Type 2 diabetes affects an estimated 24 million Americans and is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. But these statistics could be reduced through early diagnosis, intervention and, according to a British study, an eight-week extreme diet.
A new study, conducted at Newcastle University in the U.K., testing a low-calorie diet for diabetics found that a full recovery from type 2 diabetes is possible. Although the study was small, 70 percent of the participants were successful in reversing the condition.
Diabetes, a degenerative medical condition, is a progressive disease. Left undetected or untreated it will get worse. Untreated, it can create a multitude of problems including but not limited to loss of limbs (normally feet or legs from infection), loss of eyesight or blurred vision, a build-up of plaque in arteries which can cause heart disease and heart attack, kidney disease, high blood pressure, stroke, coma and even early death.
Type 2 diabetes typically occurs after the age of 45, and is normally referred to as "age onset diabetes"; therefore, it is suggested that you should have regular yearly health exams. Having a health exam will not stop you from getting diabetes, but will help in early diagnoses and treatment.
Participants in the study followed a severe 600-calorie diet for eight weeks, which consisted of diet drinks and was heavy on the veggies. By restricting fat and starches, the body was able to rid the pancreas of fat clogging particles, allowing it to function more normally. While participants returned to a regular diet after the two months, they were counseled on healthy eating. Three months after completing the restrictive diet, seven of the ten participants were free from the disease.
"To have people free of diabetes after years with the condition is remarkable—and all because of an eight-week diet," said study leader Roy Taylor, a professor at Newcastle University. "This is a radical change in understanding type 2 diabetes…. 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."
Diabetes has been shown to be reduced or eliminated in patients who undergo bariatric surgery, where food intake is limited due to the smaller stomach size. The study’s approach worked on the same premise: restrict the amounts of food to mimic that of the surgical patients.
"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.”