Low Calorie Diet “Reversed” Type 2 Diabetes in Watershed Trial

Wednesday 6th December 2017

A trial undertaken by doctors in Newcastle and Glasgow has reversed the onset of type 2 diabetes, in a result that could prove to be a game changer for treating a condition once believed to be permanent.

The trial involved putting the subjects on an extreme all-liquid low calorie diet consisting of soups and shakes intended to cause massive weight loss for five months. The meals consisted of a sachet of powder stirred in water to make a soup or shake, filled with the correct balance of nutrients and consumed four times a day.

After the five weeks and a huge amount of weight loss, healthy, solid meals are re-introduced into the diet with the help of professional dieticians.

The trial results, published in the Lancet and part of a presentation at the International Diabetes Foundation, were astonishing. 46% of the 298 that took part went into remission within a year, and 86% of the people who lost over two and a half stone were in remission. This compares to the best treatments for diabetes presently used, which manage symptoms but only 4% of people go into remission.

Doctors are quick to stress that this treatment is not necessarily a cure. If there is more weight gain, the diabetes will come back. The reason for this is tied to the onset of type 2 diabetes. Body fat builds up around the pancreas which can cause stress to the cells in the pancreas that controls blood sugar levels. As a result it does not produce enough insulin which causes blood sugar levels to spiral out of control. Without the fat putting pressure on the pancreas the organ works as it should again.

There are limitations to the study which also halt it being necessarily heralded as some kind of miracle cure. It only looked at patients that have been diagnosed in the last six years. The longer someone has diabetes the more permanent damage is done and the harder it is to go back.

The long term effects will also need to be seen, both in terms of how easy it is to maintain that renewed healthy weight and also whether the disease would permanently be in remission or if that is a temporary solution.

This being said, type 2 diabetes was seen as essentially incurable and barely treatable, and the effects of the spike in blood sugar causing massive permanent damage to organs and sight, and leading to amputations of limbs in order to keep people alive. This study gives hope that treatments and possible cures aren’t outside the realms of possibility

The trial is currently ongoing, moving to a second phase where it looks at the long term effects of such treatments. With the costs of diabetes being gigantic from both a humanity, time and monetary perspective, a potentially effective treatment gives hope to millions.

With advances being made in treatments for HIV as well as some forms of cancer, it leads to hope that someday these diseases will not be considered a death sentence.