Type 2 diabetes is considered by many healthcare professionals to be irreversible. But a recent small study published in the March 2016 issue of Diabetes Care showed a liquid diet reversed the disease for at least six months in about half of 30 people who participated in clinical trials.
“This is a radical change in our understanding of Type 2 diabetes,” Roy Taylor, a professor at Newcastle University in England and the study’s senior author, said in an April 18 New York Times article. “If we can get across the message that ‘yes, this is a reversible disease — that you will have no more diabetes medications, no more sitting in doctors’ rooms, no more excess health charges’ — that is enormously motivating.”
In the study, researchers from England put participants with type 2 diabetes on an eight-week diet of three low-calorie milkshakes and a half-pound of nonstarchy vegetables daily. The participants then returned to normal eating.
Six months later, 13 of the study participants who went into remission immediately after the diet were still diabetes-free. Most had diabetes for less than four years, but some had it for more than eight years, according to the study. One participant’s blood sugar levels have remained in the normal range for three years, according to the New York Times article.
Taylor said the participants who responded positively to the diet are still in the prediabetes zone and at risk for developing diabetes. “It’s not fair to say they were completely normalized, but they’re at a level of blood sugar where we don’t expect to see the serious complications associated with diabetes,” he said in the article. “That’s why it’s such good news.”
Diabetes affects more than 29 million Americans and numbers are growing, according to the CDC. Statistics show that from 1980 through 2014, the number of Americans with diagnosed diabetes has increased fourfold. Most of these have type 2 diabetes, which can be prevented. Type 1 diabetes cannot.
Even short-term remission can reduce serious complications associated with diabetes, George King, chief scientific officer at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, said in the New York Times article. The complications include nerve and kidney damage, vision loss, heart attack and stroke.
But, can people maintain the weight loss and “continue to have this reversal for many, many years?” he said in the article. “That is the difficult part.”
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