Intermittent fasting helps reverse type 2 diabetes, researchers say

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Over the course of a three-month trial of intermittent fasting on those with type 2 diabetes, 55 percent of participants reached remission and discontinued their blood sugar lowering medication for at least one year, according to a recent study.

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism and led by researchers from the Endocrine Society. Intermittent fasting, according to the study’s authors, usually includes fasting for a certain number of hours each day, which encourages the body to burn fat. The diet has been proven as an effective weight loss strategy and has been shown to lower risk of diabetes and heart disease. For this investigation, researchers aimed to better understand the effectiveness of the weight loss strategy for those who already had diagnosed type 2 diabetes.

Included in the study were 36 patients with type 2 diabetes. For three months, participants were asked to restrict their calorie intake to a period of 12 hours or less per day, without trying to overly reduce their daily calories.

Results showed that nearly 90 percent of participants reduced their diabetes medication intake. In addition, over half of the participants reached remission, which is classified as a 6.5 hemoglobin A1C or below. Of those who reached remission, 65 percent had been diagnosed with diabetes six to 11 years prior to the trial, challenging conventional thinking that suggests diabetes is harder to reverse after 6 years.

"Our research shows an intermittent fasting, CMNT, can lead to diabetes remission in people with type 2 diabetes, and these findings could have a major impact on the over 537 million adults worldwide who suffer from the disease,” said study researcher, Dongbo Liu, PhD, of Hunan Agricultural University in Changsha, China.

According to investigators, these results suggest glucose levels of those with type 2 diabetes can be significantly reduced with intermittent fasting, improving disease outcomes, and lowering healthcare costs.

"Diabetes medications are costly and a barrier for many patients who are trying to effectively manage their diabetes,” Liu said. “Our study saw medication costs decrease by 77% in people with diabetes after intermittent fasting.”