People with diabetes who fast intermittently do not need medication, a new study suggests.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 37 million Americans have diabetes, and 90-95% of them have type 2 diabetes. There are effective medications such as metformin (available under many brand names, including Glucophage, Fortamet, Glumetza, and Rheomet). A healthy diet and regular exercise are also known to be important for diabetes control. Now, a new study shows that intermittent fasting can reverse type 2 diabetes without medication.
A new study shows that patients achieved complete diabetes relief after an intermittent fasting diet intervention. Complete diabetes remission is defined as HbA1c (average blood sugar) below 6.5% at least one year after stopping diabetes medication. The details were published on December 14 in the Endocrine Society Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
In recent years, intermittent fasting diets have become popular as an effective weight loss method. Research shows that these foods can help fight inflammation and lead a longer and healthier life. You only fast at certain intervals. Fasting for a few hours each day or eating only one meal two days a week can help your body burn fat. Studies show that intermittent fasting can reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
“Type 2 diabetes is not necessarily a permanent lifelong disease. According to Dongbo Liu, Ph.D., of Hunan Agricultural University in Changsha, China, diabetes can be alleviated if patients lose weight by changing their diet and exercise habits. “Our study shows that intermittent fasting, Chinese Medical Nutrition Therapy (CMNT) can lead to diabetes remission in people with type 2 diabetes. These findings have significant implications for the more than 537 million adults worldwide who suffer from the disease.”
The scientists found that in a 36-month fasting diet intervention among 36 people with diabetes, nearly 90% of participants, including those taking blood sugar-lowering agents and insulin, reduced their diabetes medications after a period of fasting. About 55 percent of these people experienced diabetes remission, stopped their diabetes medications, and waited at least a year.
The results of the study challenge the common belief that diabetes remission is only achieved in people with short durations of diabetes (0-6 years). In fact, sixty-five percent of the study participants who received antidiabetic treatment had diabetes lasting more than 6 years (6-11 years).
“Diabetes drugs are expensive and a barrier for patients trying to effectively manage their diabetes. Our study found that intermittent fasting reduced diabetes by 77 percent,” Liu said.
Reference: “Effects of the Second Type of Calorie-Restricted Diet: A Randomized Controlled Trial” by Xiao Yang, Jiali Zhou, Huige Shao, Bi Huang, Xincong Kang, Ruiyu Wu, Fangzhou Bian, Minghai Hu, and Dongbo Liu, December 14; 2022, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Other authors of this study are Xiao Yang of Hunan Agricultural University, State Key Sub-Health Intervention Technology and Changsha College of Tourism in Changsha, China; Jiali Zhou, Hunan Agricultural University and Shizi Mountain Primary Care Department, Changsha, China; Huige Shao and Bi Huang of Changsha Central Hospital in Changsha, China; Xinkong Kang, Hunan Agricultural University, National Research Center of Engineering Technology for Utilization of Resources from Plant Products and Hunan Provincial Engineering Research Center of Medical Nutrition Intervention Technology for Metabolic Diseases in Changsha, China; Ruyu Hunan Agricultural University and State Key Laboratory Sub-Health Intervention Technology Success Application Center in Changsha, China; Fangzhou Bian at the University of California Irvine in Irvine, California; and Mingai Hu of Central South University in Changsha, China.
The research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.