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Type 2 diabetes cure? A super low-calorie diet may be the answer!

diabetes cure

Diabetes cure? The topic has been in the news lately, and the scientists have been exploring every avenue to find it.

A study published in the journal The Lancet describes an exceptional change in the participants’ health. Part of the findings, which showed that a low-calorie diet can lead to weight loss is no way groundbreaking. However, the effect of weight loss on diabetes was spectacular! Diabetes cure was seen in almost half of the participants on the diet. Their diabetes disappeared a year later.

Read more Type 2 diabetes linked to neurofibrillary tangles found in brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients

The authors used the term “remission” for this effect. It means that the participants’ amount of red blood cells attached to sugar molecules fell below a certain end point – known as HbA1c – without any medication. HbA1c indicates average levels of sugar in a long term. Scientists believe it may also be linked to the risk of having diabetes complications.

diabetes cure
Type 2 diabetes causes sugar to accumulate in the blood (Image: Creative commons)

One of the authors Dr. Roy Taylor of the Newcastle University said ‘cure’ signifies lasting and absolute absence of a disease, for example, curing tuberculosis. Remission means that a person is still vulnerable to diabetes and underlines that maintaining awareness to weight control is important. If the participants regain the lost weight, the diabetes will reappear for sure, he adds.

Dr. Sona Shah of NYU Langone said that it is well-known in the research community that if a patient lost between five to 10% of their weight, they could see an improvement in their HbA1c levels.

Read more Engineered Mini Stomachs May Help Treat Type 1 Diabetes

Research has confirmed that being overweight or obese heightens the risk of getting Type 2 diabetes. Lack of exercise and a family history of the disease can also increase the risk.

diabetes cure
Being overweight is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes (Image: Creative commons)

The search for a diabetes cure

The trial was conducted at the Newcastle University’s Magnetic Resonance Center in the UK. It examined more than 300 people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Since Type 2 diabetes is frequently linked with being overweight, the researchers sought to find out if intensive weight management could be a way to treat it.

Read more Encapsulated pancreatic cells could replace injections for diabetes patients

Half the participants were treated with usual diabetes treatment, including diabetes drugs and weight-loss counseling, while the rest received an extremely low-calorie diet and no medication for 3 to 5 months. The low-calorie diet was a liquid meal, made up of 4 shakes or soups that was about 825 calories each day. This diet was followed by solid food for 2 to 8 weeks. The subjects also received therapy which helped them maintain proper nutritional routine and were encouraged to physical exercise.

diabetes cure
The low-calorie diet was a liquid meal, made up of 4 shakes or soups that was about 825 calories each day. (Image: Creative commons)

The findings

After one year, 24 percent of the participants in the low-calorie diet group lost 33 pounds or more. In the control group however, no one lost any weight. Also, in the low-calorie group, 46% of the individuals reversed their diabetes and proceeded to remission, while 4 percent participants in the control group saw their diabetes disappear. Among the 36 subjects who lost 33 pounds or more went into remission.

Read more Daily aspirin intake could lower the risk of cancer in overweight people

Prof. Taylor called the findings exciting and said they could revolutionize the means of treating type 2 diabetes. The findings show that losing weight isn’t only associated with better type 2 diabetes management, remarkable weight loss could actually lead to lasting remission, he added.

Diabetes: a quick look

An estimated 366 million people now suffer from diabetes worldwide. The staggering increase in the number of cases has helped officials urging swift action to stem a worsening global public health crisis. As of right now, diabetes kills about 4.6 million people a year; that’s 1 person every 7 seconds. Much of the growth appears to be linked to lifestyle. The majority of the people with the disease has type 2 diabetes, which is caused by obesity, unhealthy eating and lack of exercise.

The figures were released in December, last year, after doctors met at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes urging public officials to fund preventative measures and research.

The president of the World Diabetes Federation said:

The clock is ticking for the world’s leaders. We expect action from their meeting that will halt diabetes’ relentless upwards trajectory.

The number of people living with diabetes has more than doubled in the last 3 decades. And The World Diabetes Federation estimated that the epidemic cost about $465 billion to treat annually.

diabetes cure
Lack of exercise is also a risk factor for type 2 diabetes (Image: Creative commons)

Type 1 diabetes is most common among young people whose blood is unable to manufacture insulin. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to break down glucose, increasing the body’s blood sugar and exposing sufferers to an increased risk of kidney failure, blindness and amputation. As of yet, there’s no cure for diabetes.

The British medical journal The Lancet projected another 8 million cases by 2030, driven by an additional 65 million obese Americans. Health officials attribute the spike in diabetes cases to population growth particularly with the larger share of elderly people and unhealthy lifestyles.

According to the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, almost 10% of the population in the United States has diabetes, and around 84 million adults in the U.S. are considered prediabetic.

Diabetes Type II Pathophysiology

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Salahuddin Ahmed is a freelance medical writer and blogger, who has been writing about medicine and health for more than a decade. A former New York transplant, he now lives in his native Dhaka. He received a Bachelor's degree from the University of Louisiana and a diploma on eTechnology from NIIT, Dhaka. A voracious eater, Salahuddin only dines at restaurants that offer free refills on rice.