Allan Tutty on the beach in Sunderland — Robert Ormerod/NYTimes
❝ Many experts believe Type 2 diabetes is an incurable disease that gets worse with time. But new research raises the tantalizing possibility that drastic changes in diet may reverse the disease in some people.
❝ Recently, a small clinical trial in England studied the effects of a strict liquid diet on 30 people who had lived with Type 2 diabetes for up to 23 years. Nearly half of those studied had a remission that lasted six months after the diet was over. While the study was small, the finding offers hope to millions who have been told they must live with the intractable disease…
It is not the first time that people have reversed type 2 diabetes by losing a lot of weight shortly after a diagnosis. Studies have also shown that obese individuals who have bariatric surgery frequently see the condition vanish even before they lose very much weight.
But the new study, published in Diabetes Care, proved the reversal after diet can persist for at least half a year as long as patients keep weight off, and can occur in people who have had the disease for many years.
Another conclusion that losing weight and exercising is good for you.
❝ The researchers followed the participants after they had completed an eight-week low-calorie-milkshake diet and returned to normal eating. Six months later, those who had gone into remission immediately after the diet were still diabetes-free. Though most of those who reversed the disease had had it for less than four years, some had been diabetic for more than eight years.
❝ When Allan Tutty, 57, learned five years ago that he had Type 2 diabetes, he asked health care providers if there was a cure. “It was a case of, look, you’ve got it, deal with it, there’s no cure,” said Mr. Tutty, who manages a home for people with brain injuries in Newcastle.
Later, Mr. Tutty spotted a notice recruiting volunteers for a diabetes study that asked, “Would you like the opportunity to reverse your condition?”
❝ Mr. Tutty said he jumped at the chance, becoming one of 30 men and women ages 25 to 80 to sign up. Mr. Tutty was one of 13 participants whose fasting plasma glucose dropped, and during the six-month follow-up remained below the seven millimole per liter (or 126 milligrams per deciliter) that defines diabetes. Although Mr. Tutty completed the study nearly three years ago, his fasting blood sugars continue to range from 5.2 to 5.6 mmol/L, he said…
❝ Going on a very-low-calorie diet may allow the body to use up fat from the liver, causing fat levels to drop in the pancreas as well. That “wakes up” the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, normalizing blood glucose levels.
While some previous studies have shown that blood sugars can normalize after significant weight loss, endocrinologists said they were impressed by the persistence of the lower blood sugar levels for months after the diet.
❝ The participants in the Newcastle trial, who ranged from overweight to extremely obese, were told to stop their diabetes medications and start a 600- to 700-calorie-a-day diet, consisting of three diet milkshakes a day at mealtimes and half a pound of nonstarchy vegetables a day.
Mr. Tutty, who weighed about 213 pounds before the trial, lost a little more than 30 pounds, the average weight loss in the trial. The people in the study most likely to respond to the treatment were in their early 50s on average and younger than the nonresponders, and they had had diabetes for fewer years…
Good news is good news even when it hasn’t yet been carried forward to a point when more generalized conclusions may be made.
Good news for many folks in this trial. Especially those who learned a new “normal” diet and maintained exercise.