Benefits of a low-calorie diet for type 2 diabetes


New research suggests that a low-calorie diet
might help reverse symptoms of type 2 diabetes in men with obesity. The findings of the study add to a growing
body of evidence indicating that diabetes is a reversible condition. Authors of the study looked at 18 men in South
Africa who were over the age of 35, had class III obesity, and were on insulin treatment
for diabetes. The participants were randomized to one of
two groups: one followed a commercially available low-fat, low-calorie diet consisting of vegetables
and a vegetable-soup-based meal plan; while the control group received a calorie-restricted
meal plan. All participants were encouraged to engage
in physical activity according to their abilities and to visit a counseling psychologist at
least once a month. Over the course of 6 months, the team tracked
the men’s levels of blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin, or HbA1c—using those measures
to establish diabetes status. By the end of the study period, one participant’s
readings indicated complete remission of diabetes, while another’s suggested partial remission. Overall, the test group showed a significant
increase in HDL-cholesterol levels, greater weight loss, and lower HbA1c levels than the
control group. The median daily dose of insulin for the test
group decreased to less than half of what it was at the start of the trial. The results fit into a broader stream of evidence
hinting that substantial weight loss can reverse symptoms of type 2 diabetes. But the findings are not definitive. More studies on a larger, more varied sample
population monitored over more than 6 months would help build a stronger case for the benefits
of the nutrition intervention applied in the study. Still, the implications are encouraging. For at least one subset of patients with type
2 diabetes, the specially designed low-calorie diet could be safe and effective in establishing
a healthier lifestyle.

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