Study shows how a low-calo­rie diet can re­verse type 2 di­a­betes

Tehran Times - - SCIENCE - (Source: sci­enceal­

New re­search re­veals the mech­a­nisms through which low calo­rie di­ets can re­verse type 2 di­a­betes in an­i­mals, and if those ef­fects can be trans­ferred over to peo­ple, we could have a host of new drug op­tions for treat­ing the chronic con­di­tion.

Links be­tween type 2 di­a­betes and diet have been well es­tab­lished – it is trig­gered when the body can no longer man­age its blood glu­cose lev­els – but this lat­est study adds to grow­ing ev­i­dence that the con­di­tion could be re­versed in some cases.

The team of re­searchers gave a very low calo­rie diet (VLCD) to rats with type 2 di­a­betes and found the an­i­mals’ blood glu­cose lev­els rapidly low­ered. What’s more, they were able to re­veal ex­tra de­tails about why ex­actly it was hap­pen­ing.

Fat me­tab­o­lism

“Us­ing this ap­proach to com­pre­hen­sively in­ter­ro­gate liver car­bo­hy­drate and fat me­tab­o­lism, we showed that it is a com­bi­na­tion of three mech­a­nisms that is re­spon­si­ble for the rapid re­ver­sal of hy­per­glycemia fol­low­ing a very low calo­rie diet,” says one of the re­searchers, Ger­ald I. Shul­man from the Howard Hughes Med­i­cal In­sti­tute in Mary­land.

The three liver mech­a­nisms af­fected by the diet were the con­ver­sion of lac­tate and amino acids into glu­cose, the con­ver­sion of liver glyco­gen into glu­cose, and a de­crease in fat con­tent, which then im­proves the liver’s re­sponse to in­sulin.

That re­sponse is im­por­tant: it’s when the body can’t pro­duce enough in­sulin, or be­comes re­sis­tant to it, that blood sug­ars build up and type 2 di­a­betes oc­curs.

In other words, the re­search shows how three causes of high glu­cose lev­els are tar­geted by a VLCD – and re­sults were no­tice­able in just three days. The ro­dents’ body weight was not af­fected through­out the study.

Be­fore we de­clare type 2 di­a­betes cured though, we need to find out whether this would work in hu­mans too, and the sci­en­tists are now gear­ing up to use the same iso­tope-mon­i­tor­ing meth­ods they used here in a hu­man trial.

Type 2 di­a­betes

This isn’t the first time that VLCDs have been linked to re­vers­ing type 2 di­a­betes, but right now we need more data and ad­di­tional re­search to con­firm what’s go­ing on, which is where this lat­est study on the un­der­ly­ing mech­a­nisms can be help­ful.

A study from 2015 found that los­ing just a gram of fat from the pan­creas – ei­ther through a low calo­rie diet or through an op­er­a­tion – could help to re­set in­sulin lev­els, though only 18 par­tic­i­pants were in­volved in the study.

Ear­lier this year, mean­while, a study on mice found that in­ter­mit­tent fast­ing could also re­set the bi­o­log­i­cal mech­a­nisms that cause type 2 di­a­betes.

All this is promis­ing stuff, but we’re still at the data-col­lect­ing stage – ex­per­i­ments have ei­ther been run on an­i­mals or on small sam­ples of peo­ple that aren’t con­clu­sive.

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