Diabetes affects almost 10 percent of the American population (29.1 million people) according to the American Diabetes Association. As such, any news indicating that there is a possible cure is good news. Scientists at the University of Southern California have indicated that an extremely simple diet may, in fact, be able to reverse the effects of diabetes.
The diabetes diet study, published in the medical journal Cell, says that the diet causes the pancreas to regenerate itself. In effect, the pancreas respond to the diet by starting to work again to control blood sugar levels.
So how does the new diabetes diet work? Those with the disease spend five days on a diet that is low in calories, carbohydrates, and protein. Conversely, the diabetes diet is high in unsaturated fat, topping out at 1,100 calories per day. When the five days are up, the diabetes sufferer can spend the next 25 days eating whatever they want. As a result, this “fasting” technique says diabetes sufferers need only follow the diet for less than a week and then can eat like those who don’t have diabetes for the rest of the month.
Valter Longo, director of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California Leonard Davis School of Gerontology explained how the diabetes diet works.
“Cycles of a fasting-mimicking diet and a normal diet essentially reprogrammed non-insulin-producing cells into insulin-producing cells. By activating the regeneration of pancreatic cells, we were able to rescue mice from late-stage type 1 and type 2 diabetes. We also reactivated insulin production in human pancreatic cells from type 1 diabetes patients.”
Thus far, experts are warning those with diabetes to only try the disease reversing diet under the care of a medical professional.
Diabetes is a disease in which there are high blood sugar levels in the body over an extended period. These high blood sugar levels can cause frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased hunger. When diabetes isn’t treated, it can cause devastating complications including diabetic ketoacidosis (a buildup of acids in the blood), nonketotic hyperosmolar coma (a coma induced by severe dehydration), or even death. Over the course of time, other complications can include stroke, chronic kidney failure, heart disease, eye damage and ulcers.
Diabetes is caused either by the pancreas not producing enough insulin or the cells of the body not responding properly to the insulin produced. What researchers are now claiming is that the fasting diet actually prompts damaged cells within the pancreas to regenerate healthy ones and work properly as a result.
Additional health effects associated with the diabetes diet is the reduction in risk for heart disease, cancer, and other age-related diseases. The research done on this particular diet wasn’t originally done with diabetes in mind. Past studies into the diet showed the potential for reducing symptoms of multiple sclerosis, decreasing visceral fat and increasing the positive effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients.
Dr. Longo said that there needs to be much more study into the diabetes diet.
“These findings warrant a larger FDA trial on the use of the fasting-mimicking diet to treat human diabetes patients to help them produce normal levels of insulin while improving insulin function. Hopefully, people with diabetes could one day be treated with an FDA-approved fasting-mimicking diet for a few days each month and gain control over their insulin production and blood sugar.”
Whereas almost 10 percent of the American population suffers from diabetes, another 8 percent actually has diabetes yet it remains undiagnosed. Over a quarter of American seniors (those 65 and older) have diabetes, and the disease is currently the seventh leading cause of death in the country.
With the numbers of individuals affected by disease, it’s encouraging to know that this diet may lead to relief for millions.
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