Intermittent fasting can help reverse type 2 diabetes: Study
People with Type 2 diabetes who fast intermittently may no longer need medication, a small study suggests.
After an intermittent fasting diet intervention, most patients in the study achieved complete diabetes remission -- defined as having a stable HbA1c, or average blood sugar, level of less than 6.5% for at least three months -- after discontinuing all anti-diabetic medications.
This is according to findings published Wednesday in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
The study involved participants between 38 and 72 years old who had Type 2 diabetes from one year to 11 years and used anti-diabetic drugs and/or insulin injections. Two-thirds of them were men. The participants' body mass index , or BMI, ranged from 19.1 to 30.4.
Participants were randomly assigned to the Chinese Medical Nutrition Therapy group, involving intermittent fasting, or to a control group
After a three-month intermittent fasting diet intervention among 36 people with diabetes, almost 90% of participants, including people who took blood sugar-lowering agents and insulin, reduced their diabetes medication use.
Three months after the intervention ended, 47.2% of participants had achieved diabetes remission in the Chinese Medical Nutrition Therapy/intermittent fasting group, the research paper said. That compared with 2.8% in the control group.
At the 12-month follow up, 44.4% of the participants were found to have achieved sustained diabetes remission.
The researchers said their findings challenge the conventional view that diabetes remission can only be achieved in people who have had Type 2 diabetes no longer than six years. Sixty-five percent of the study's participants who achieved such remission had Type 2 diabetes for six years to 11 years.
"This study demonstrated the clinical efficacy of [intermittent fasting] in achieving diabetes remission for at least one year," the paper concludes.
The American Diabetes Association said the findings are encouraging.
"This study, though small, adds to the emerging literature on the potential benefits of intermittent fasting for the diabetes community. We look forward to larger studies to examine the benefits of this approach," Dr. Robert Gabbay, the organization's chief scientific and medical officer, told UPI in an email.