Evidence continues to emerge that it is possible to manage and even reverse type 2 diabetes by following a strict diet.
Low and very low energy diets introduced in the first stages of clinical intervention can be effective at sustaining a reversal.
Permanent lifestyle change
We have known for a number of years that dietary changes can help to reverse type 2 diabetes. However, what was not clear was whether that reversal could be sustained.
The condition, which is linked with obesity, has now been managed in a new study which suggests that the reversal can, indeed, be sustained for the longer term. New research from the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial – known as DiRECT – suggests that an initial formula-based low energy diet could make the change, so long as it is accompanied by a permanent lifestyle change.
The research, which was funded by Diabetes UK, is expected to be followed with a flood of other results and studies which confirm the same thing.
Adrian Brown, a specialist weight management and bariatric dietician at Imperial College London, says that the study indicates a sustainability of at least two years within primary care environments.
The DiRECT study was led by Professor Roy Taylor, who hails from Newcastle University, and Professor Mike Lean, representing Glasgow University.
Specific dietary rules
The study involved getting patients to lose 15kg of weight during the first 12 weeks of treatment. This was done by using a very low energy diet and then, when the patients had reached their target, coming up with a plan to keep the weight off permanently.
They found that 45.6% of participants who were put on the controlled low calorie diet for between three and five months were able to stop taking their diabetes medication.
“I firmly believe we should focus on weight loss and not just increasing pharmacotherapy,” said Adrian Brown. “It appears that 15kg weight loss is key, particularly for reducing fat within the liver and pancreas. And I believe it is never too late. [There] really needs to be a change in focus to weight management. Intense lifestyle management is the cornerstone of this.”
Brown also pointed out that diabetes cases almost doubled in the UK from 2004 to 2014. He added, “The worrying thing from this data was a doubling of female diabetes prevalence in 16 to 34-year-olds – a huge issue. These are really the people we need to be targeting.”
New product development staff may want to take note, as low energy foods may well become a key market in the close future to help ease the burden of diabetes sufferers.
Further results coming
Another trial called Prevention of Diabetes through lifestyle Intervention of population studies In Europe and around the World – or PREVIEW – has been looking into the way that low energy diets might help to prevent diabetes in the first place. Their results will be released soon, and it is believed that it will show the same as the earlier study.
Adrian Brown is running another study of his own which will also show something similar, to be released in May 2018.
The implications of these results are that people will be able to come off medication just by choosing the right foods to eat. It could lead to a new wave of food sales and marketing tactics, as companies push their products as low energy in order to attract the consumers who want to avoid or reverse their diabetes conditions.
This is an exciting time for diabetes sufferers, as we may be able to hugely reduce the amount of type 2 conditions and even eradicate them.