Study Reveals How a Very Low Calorie Diet Can Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

Source: Yale University School of Medicine

Summary: Researchers have uncovered how a very low-calorie diet (VLCD) can reverse type 2 diabetes very rapidly in animal models.

According to the recent reports by Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three Americans will develop Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) by 2050. Reports indicate that the T2D goes into remission in patients who undergo bariatric weight-loss surgery, a process which limits the intake of calories to achieve a significant clinical weight loss. Researchers from Yale University School of Medicine in a new study have uncovered how a very low-calorie diet (VLCD) can reverse type 2 diabetes very rapidly in animal models. If this is confirmed in humans, the insight will provide a potential drug target for treating this common chronic disease. The study findings were published in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Low calorie diets help in reversal of Diabetes

Very Low-Calorie Diet (VLCD) can reverse type 2 diabetes. CREDIT: CC0 Public Domain

The researchers investigated the effects of very low-calorie diet (consists of 1/4th the typical intake) on a rodent model with T2D. They used a new stable (natural occurring) isotope technique, tracked and calculated a number of metabolic processes which contribute to increase the production of glucose by the liver. A method called PINTA allowed the researchers to perform a complete set of analysis of important metabolic fluxes in the liver that are responsible for two key processes which result raised blood-sugar levels in diabetes – insulin resistance and increased glucose production by the liver.

Using this approach the researchers identified 3 major mechanisms responsible for the dramatic effect of VLCD in rapidly lowering blood glucose levels in the diabetic animals.

  • Conversion of lactate and amino acids into glucose is reduced.
  • The rate of liver glycogen conversion to glucose is reduced.
  • Improving the liver’s response to insulin by decreasing the fat content.

Gerald I. Shulman, senior author said, “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” and further added “These results, if confirmed in humans, will provide us with novel drug targets to more effectively treat patients with type 2 diabetes.”

More Information: Rachel J. Perry et al, “Mechanisms by which a Very-Low-Calorie Diet Reverses Hyperglycemia in a Rat Model of Type 2 Diabetes”, Cell Metabolism, (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2017.10.004


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