Type 2 diabetes is a condition which is both dangerous and debilitating. Most people have to take medicines to keep their sugar levels under control, but even such measures do not grant success. However, there seems to be a natural and more pleasant solution to treat the disease: a recent research showed that intensive weight management can benefit those suffering from type 2 diabetes and even reverse the disease, which means you can avoid taking medicines and still have a normal glucose level!
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Investigators from the University of Glasgow revealed that it is possible to reverse the debilitating disease, which also reduces quality of life, by means of getting rid of extra pounds. All it takes is your will: following a diet (even if you are not forced to exercise) can be a challenge (and a very difficult one!), but if it helps, why not?
The issue with current standard diabetes treatment guidelines is that they are aimed at the consequences (e.g. blood sugar levels) instead of affecting biological mechanisms that underlie the disease development. It is known that type 2 diabetes develops when there’s too much fat in a person’s liver. The same is true of fat in the pancreas. Obesity is one of the key risk factors, so the solution is quite evident: get rid of the extra fat, and your body will work properly again.
In this study, researchers followed 298 adults who had been diagnosed with the disease in question before the project started. All of them were aged 20-65 years. The longest term for which a participant had been suffering from type 2 diabetes was six years. The participants were divided into two groups: the first one was told to start a special weight management program developed by dieticians, whereas the other one was a control group. The program consisted of three stages.
The first stage implied reduction of calorie intake: the maximum was set at 853 calories per day. This period of challenging the patients with such a diet lasted 3-5 months.
The second stage implied gradual food reintroduction. It was stepped, because it’s not beneficial to switch diets fast, especially if the previous one implied such a limit.
The third stage was aimed at supporting the participants by means of cognitive behavioral therapy and introducing physical activity.
It’s important to note that all drugs had been stopped before the experiment began.
After one year has passed, the investigators analyzed what changes there were. First, all the participants lost at least 10-15 kg. In the majority of cases, it proved to be enough to achieve remission. Second, the HbA1c level was normal at 12 months, and remission was achieved in half (68 out of 149) of the dieting group. Contrary to this, only 4% of those from the second group achieved remission.
Though there were dropouts (21%), most of them could not continue the experiment due to social reasons, and not to the severity of the diet. Almost all the participants attended assessment, and those from the control group lost only 1 kg on average, whereas the weight management group showed the result of 10-15 kg.
Whether the remission could be achieved or not seemed to correlate with how many extra kilograms were lost: among those who lost 15 kg or more, 9/10 achieved remission, whereas those who lost only 10 kg had the rate of 3 out of 4.
The adverse effects were not significant (except for one person who suffered from abdominal pain but still did not want to drop out), and the researchers believe that losing weight is a much better way of achieving type 2 diabetes remission than bariatric surgery. Having normal BMI is beneficial in many ways, after all, so stopping eating those burgers is definitely a good idea!
Lifestyle Changes for Type 2 Diabetes – Diabetes.co.uk