Both lifestyle (the amount of sleep you get at night, amount of exercise, your levels of stress and the foods you consume) as well as genetics play a role in the development of Type 2 diabetes. People can be overweight and yet never develop Type 2 diabetes or they can be be thin and develop Type 2. A genetic predisposition is part of the equation. But the essence of this disease state is what happens to cells: a person’s own cells become resistant to the insulin that their pancreas produces.
In What is Insulin, Appreciating The Remarkable Pancreas, insulin’s action in the body is described in detail. Here is a snippet,
“around 5% [of the pancreas], is made up of islets of Langerhans–cell clusters containing the beta cells that create insulin…Insulin completes the digestive process–from carrots and meat to small molecules– by making it possible for cells to absorb those molecules. During digestion, amylases break down carbohydrates into glucose. That glucose enters the blood stream. Insulin is released in a bolus (large amount) from the pancreas to help the cells of the body absorb all that glucose from the blood. The cells then convert glucose into energy.”
Becoming resistant means that it takes more and more insulin to get the body’s cells to respond and absorb glucose from the blood. Unfortunately, your pancreas can only produce so much insulin. Diabetes is the result.
Reversing Type 2 Diabetes
New research looks at a dietary way to reverse type 2 diabetes. Published in the Lancet, this randomized case-control study conducted in Great Britain put patients on a formula diet of 825 to 853 calories per day for 3 to 5 months. After that period, patients were allowed (over a period 2 to 8 weeks) to gradually reinstate food and they were provided support to help them sustain their weight loss. Those in the intervention group also received cognitive behavioral therapy to help them through the process as well as tips on becoming more physically active.
About one-quarter (23%)of the intervention group lost 33 pounds (15 kg) or more. The control group did not lose weight. Almost half (46%) of the intervention group achieved remission of their diabetes and did not need diabetes medications.
One of the features of this study was that it was conducted in family practices around Great Britain meaning that this could be accomplished with the guidance of primary care physicians. Another feature was that quality of life scores improved in the group who used the formula diet. Finally, in this study there seemed to be a link between the amount of weight loss and success in remission of diabetes, for example, 7% of those who only lost 11 pounds (5 kg) saw remission of their diabetes whereas 86% of those who lost 33 pounds (15kg) achieved remission.
These participants will be followed for four years to see how well they are able to maintain their weight loss and diabetes remission.
What do you think? Could you stay on a low-low calorie diet like the one described above? Let us know in the comments section below.