- New preparation Research shows that type 2 diabetes cannot become a lifelong chronic disease if intermittent fasting is done.
- Experts are cautiously optimistic that intermittent fasting may be beneficial for patients with type 2 diabetes.
- Still, the research’s small sample size calls for caution, experts say.
- Before making any decisions, it’s important to discuss options for treating and managing type 2 diabetes with your provider.
A new study published in the Endocrine Society suggests that intermittent fasting may help patients with type 2 diabetes. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
“Type 2 diabetes is not necessarily a permanent, lifelong disease,” said Dongbo Liu of Hunan Agricultural University in Changsha, China, in a press release. “Our study shows that intermittent fasting, Chinese Medical Nutrition Therapy (CMNT) can induce diabetes remission in people with type 2 diabetes.”
Intermittent fasting has become an important weight loss strategy in recent years. It involves eating within a certain time frame and fasting for certain hours every day.
Danin Fruge, MD, ABFP, medical director at Pritikin Longevity Center, agrees with Liu that the findings are promising.
“The findings are important for raising awareness and motivating people,” she said.
Still, experts share the importance of interpreting research with a critical eye and discussing findings with a provider who can replicate them.
“Reading peer-reviewed articles can help prevent misleading studies by validating the authors and the process,” says Emily Campbell, RDN, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Kidney Nutrition. “However, this does not guarantee that the results will be clinically relevant to everyone’s health. As a result, it’s important to read peer-reviewed studies and talk to your doctor before making any changes to protect you.
Type 2 diabetes affects more than 33 million people in the United States.
- He had diabetes in pregnant women who had never had diabetes before.
- Exercising less than three days a week
- Have a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes
- They are Black, Hispanic or Latinx, Native or Alaska Native, Pacific Islander, or Asian American.
Management typically includes blood sugar testing, diet planning, exercise and stress reduction, according to the CDC.
Importantly, type 2 diabetes is different from type 1 diabetes.
Dr. Barbara Keber, vice chair of family medicine at Northwell Health in New York, suggests that type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune response. It usually – but not always – arises during childhood and adolescence and occurs when the body produces very little insulin or none at all.
The study was conducted over a three-month period by a team of researchers in China. There were 36 participants, all with type 2 diabetes, engaged in intermittent fasting. Some were taking agents to lower blood sugar and insulin.
What does intermittent fasting look like? It varies.
Keber said a sampling plan might include:
- Alternate fasting days with calorie intake below 500 for women and 600 for men
- As mentioned above, a five-day regular diet with two days of fasting per week
- Time-restricted eating, such as eating only between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m
“The idea is to induce something known as ketosis during fasting, which causes the body to use its own fat breakdown to support normal functions, and thus lose weight.”
In the new study, the data indicated that nearly 90% of participants reduced their diabetes medication intake, including blood sugar-lowering agents and insulin.
More than half of these participants (55%) went on diabetes medication and stopped their medication. At least one year of remission.
Nearly two-thirds of the participants who entered remission had diabetes for more than six years. Therefore, researchers believe that this study contradicts the idea that people only experience the disease for a short period of time under the age of six.
In their opinion, intermittent fasting can help patients lose weight and thus go into remission from diabetes, the study found.
Fruge said the emerging research is interesting, but it doesn’t guarantee that an individual patient will go into remission from diabetes if they try intermittent fasting.
“The study can’t tell us how each patient will respond to intermittent calorie restriction, which is why it’s important to discuss the studies with your personal physician,” says Fruge.
Campbell also notes that intermittent fasting poses risks for patients with type 2 diabetes:
- Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, especially if you take diabetes medications
- Malnutrition if you do not get enough food during the diet
- Physiological changes such as light-headedness, low energy, irritability
She also questions whether cuts are a long-term solution. Keber wonders how long remission lasts for many patients.
“The study only looked at individuals within a year of making a dietary change, and it doesn’t tell us about long-term benefits and harms,” Keber said, adding that the sample size of 36 people was small.
Finally, Keber pointed out that the study included only type 2 diabetes, not all types of diabetes.
Despite the constructive criticism, Campbell emphasizes that it’s important to talk to your provider — and do so before you try it yourself.
“Intermittent fasting can be a great option for weight loss and blood sugar control for people with type 2 diabetes,” says Campbell. “However, it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting, as there may be medication changes, and your diet should remain adequate to meet nutrient needs even during meals.”