Reversal Of Type 2 Diabetes: Normalisation Of Beta Cell Function In Association With Decreased Pancreas And Liver Triacylglycerol, Diabetologia, June 9, 2011
Studies have been showing that people with type 2 diabetes who undergo gastric bypass surgeries can - within a matter of days - stop being diabetic. Was it some hormone? Some change in concentration of branched-chain amino acids? Maybe it was just the weight loss, because it is known that weight loss - no matter how it's achieved - can reduce markers of diabetes and can reduce or eliminate need for diabetes meds.
This study supports a weight loss hypothesis, or more specifically, a fat-loss hypothesis. After one week of consuming about 600 calories a day, all 11 participants (7 men, 2 women) essentially reversed their diabetes. (Participants didn't get gastric bypass. They changed only their diet.)
After 1 week, fasting blood glucose decreased from 166 to 106 mg/dl (and stayed there, so most of the benefit was from 1 week of dieting).
After 8 weeks:
- Average weight loss was 34 lbs (229 to 195 lbs).
- Average loss around the waist was 5.2 inches (42.3 to 37.1 inches).
- HbA1c dropped from 7.4% to 6.0%
- Triglycerides in the pancreas dropped from 8% to 6%
- Triglycerides in the liver dropped from 13% to 3%.
Curiously, insulin sensitivity throughout the body did not improve, just the liver became less insulin resistant.
The authors say their study shows that "excess lipid accumulation in the liver and pancreas" is responsible for type 2 diabetes, that is, for abnormal insulin secretion and insulin resistance.
Participants consumed a 510-calorie liquid diet (Optifast: 46.4% carb, 32.5% protein, 20.1% fat) with an additional 90 calories from non-starchy vegetables. They drank 2 liters of water a day. They weren't any more active than before the study.
Note: This was a proof-of-concept study, not dietary advice. Any very low calorie diet (or low-carb ketogenic diet) really ought to be monitored by a professional. These diets result in higher levels of blood ketones which are acidic and require buffering or else blood pH drops ... a dangerous scenario.