Type 2 diabetes: Intermittent fasting lowers blood sugars by controlling insulin levels

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Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. Blood sugar levels rise due to a dysfunction in the way insulin, a hormone that regulates high blood sugar, is released. Could intermittent fasting help with rising blood sugars and in turn help to put the condition into remission?

What is intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting is a type of eating plan that involves a limited time period when caloric intake is restricted.

This can vary from fasting all day long for several days per week, to simply limiting the number of calories that are ingested during the fasting period.

There are specific intermittent fasting diets, such as those that restrict food intake after a specific time of day, to those that rotate between eating normally and restricting a certain number of calories during the day on fasting days.

In a study published in BMJ, intermittent fasting and how it could help with type 2 diabetes was analysed.

The study involved three men between the ages of 40 and 67 who tried occasional fasting for approximately 10 months.

All of the men were able to stop insulin treatment within a month after starting the intermittent fasting.

One of the men was able to stop insulin treatment after only five days of the fasting technique.

Author of the study, Dr Jason Fung said of the results: “This study shows that a dietary intervention therapeutic fasting has the potential to completely reverse type 2 diabetes, even when somebody has suffered with the disease for 25 years.

“It changes everything about how we should treat the disease.”

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The primary goal of intermittent fasting for weight loss is to get the insulin levels to decrease to a level where the body will begin to burn stored fat for energy.

When the food consumed is metabolised it ends up as molecules in the blood stream.

One such molecule is glucose and normally, when there is more circulating blood glucose than the body can use for energy, the excess is stored as fat for future use.

However, for glucose to be utilised by the cells, it requires insulin.

Between meals the body doesn’t require insulin, so insulin levels decline.

When insulin levels are low, the fat cells release some of the stored glucose, resulting in weight loss and in turn lowering blood sugars.

How diabetes works

When we eat foods containing carbohydrates, the body digests the carbohydrates into single sugars.

The pancreas simultaneously receives a signal to release insulin.

Insulin is released into the bloodstream and acts as a key to unlock the cells, allowing the single sugars to enter the cells and provide energy.

In a person with type 2 diabetes, cells don’t respond normally to insulin, which helps control the amount of sugar in the blood.

Without enough functioning insulin as we see in type 2 diabetes, some of the single sugars build up in the cell and aren’t able to provide cells with energy.

High blood sugar levels can be damaging to the body and cause other health issues, such as kidney problems, vision loss, and heart disease.

Type 2 diabetes may be managed by healthy eating and exercise.

Some people may get prescribed injectable insulin to help manage blood sugar levels. 

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