A very low-calorie diet helps patients with diabetes control their blood sugar, according to a new study from the University of Pittsburg Medical. After 6 months, 12% of the participants were in remission, which meant they could manage their blood sugar without medication.
This diet was especially helpful for those who lost the most weight, the researchers found. A follow-up study is planned to determine the long-term effectiveness of the program.
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A low-calorie diet can help people with diabetes control their blood sugar without medication and even achieve remission. This emerges from new research presented at the ObesityWeek virtual conference November 2-6.
According to Evan Keller, a medical student at the University of Pittsburgh who led the research, strictly reducing calories can help help diabetic patients by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing the burden on the pancreas, the insulin that makes insulin becomes.
The study tracked data from 88 patients with diabetes who successfully completed the university’s weight loss program. Patients consumed 600-800 calories a day from high-protein meal replacement shakes for three months. They then gradually reintroduced other foods while maintaining a calorie deficit and avoiding foods that raise blood sugar levels, such as processed or sweetened foods.
By the end of the program, 12% of patients had their diabetes in full remission, which meant they could control their blood sugar without the use of medication. Another 11% of the patients were in partial remission and could take less medication.
“We found that the program provides effective diabetes control with or without medication,” said Keller in the presentation.
Patients who lost the most weight saw the greatest benefits for their blood sugar control, he added. On average, patients lost 17.3% of their original body weight at the end of the program. However, patients in the group with the highest weight loss showed significantly more improvements in glycemic control than those with the lowest weight amount.
Keller said these results are promising, but the next phase of research aims to monitor patients for a 12 month period of the diet program to assess its effectiveness over time.
“People want to see the long-term data and see if this diabetes remission is really self-sustaining,” he said.
Previous evidence shows that fasting can help control diabetes by restricting calories, even without weight loss
This type of low-calorie diet is sometimes referred to as the fasting-mimicking diet because it has effects similar to eating without food. Previous studies suggest that limiting caloric intake through fasting may also help diabetics manage insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels.
In a July case study, a 57-year-old woman was able to successfully treat her diabetes without medication through a combination of fasting, lowering calories, and a ketogenic diet.
The patient in this study burned 1,500 calories per day four days a week and fasted regularly, sometimes for 42 hours.
Four weeks after starting the diet, the patient was able to stop taking drugs such as metformim, an antihypertensive agent, and a statin, while checking her blood sugar level.
Four months after starting the program, her blood sugar levels had improved significantly even without the medication.
Extreme calorie restrictions should only be done under professional supervision
While these results are promising, diets that severely restrict calories for long periods can be risky. Severe calorie restrictions can lead to muscle wasting and fatigue, along with feelings of cold, hunger, and irritability.
In extreme cases, it can even lead to serious health consequences, such as an irregular heartbeat, dizziness, dangerously low blood pressure and even loss of consciousness, which can potentially lead to injury or death.
Intense calorie restriction can also be harmful for people with a history of eating disorder.
Therefore, anyone interested in a low calorie diet should seek medical advice and follow up regularly to ensure that the diet is being followed as safely as possible.
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