The rates of people who suffer with type 2 diabetes is ever-increasing. This is particularly true in the western world where it is predicted that 1 in 3 American’s will be at risk of developing the disease in the next 40 years.
Type 2 diabetes is typically the result of poor lifestyle choices, which leads to inefficient distribution of sugar (glucose) into the cells, where it is used as energy. This is because the cells within the body develop what’s known as insulin resistance. To counteract this, the pancreas tries to secrete more and more insulin when eventually secretion rates fail to keep up with demand and consequently medical intervention is necessary to help regulate sugar metabolism.
Type 1 diabetes, is different in that people with type 1 produce can’t produce insulin, this is usually due to the body’s immune system destroying the cells responsible for producing insulin. Type 1 diabetes makes up 5% – 10% of all diabetes cases.
As type 2 diabetes is often the result of poor dietary/lifestyle habits leading to an insulin resistance, researchers are now examining diet interventions that may in fact be effective enough to reverse this form of diabetes.
One such study recently conducted by a team of researchers at Yale University sought to establish the impact of very low calories diets on reversing type 2 diabetes within animal models.
The team of researchers examined the impact a 75% calorie reduction in a rodent model of type 2 diabetes.
Using a method known as ‘PINTA’ the researchers were able to perform a broad analysis of essential metabolic processes within the liver that contribute to both elevated levels of glucose from the liver and insulin resistance: two fundamental biological factor that lead to elevate blood sugar levels seen in patients with diabetes.
Having this insight allowed the researchers to determine what, specifically, the benefits were from utilising a low calorie diet with regards to reversing type 2 diabetes. This included:
1) Decreasing the amount of amino acid and lactate conversion into glucose.
2) Decreasing the rate of glycogen conversion into glucose.
3) Reducing fat content leading to improved liver response to insulin secretion.
The next necessary phase to this research is applying the PINTA methodology to humans with type 2 diabetes, something the research team has already begun.