A Newcastle University study has discovered that Type 2 diabetes can be reversed by an ultra-low calorie low diet.  Two and half million people in the UK are affected by Type 2 diabetes, a long-term condition caused by too much sugar in the blood.

Dew dews

The study, funded by Diabetes UK, monitored 11 people who all reversed their diabetes by drastically cutting their food intake to just 600 calories a day for two months.  In three months seven of the study group remained free of diabetes.

Professor Roy Taylor of Newcastle University, who led the study and also works for The Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: "To have people free of diabetes after years with the condition is remarkable - and all because of an eight week diet."

While it has long been believed that someone with Type 2 diabetes will always have the disease, and get steadily worse, the Newcastle University study has shown that the condition can be reversed.

Gordon Parmley, 67, from Stocksfield in Northumberld, who took part in the trial, said: "At the end of the trial, I was told my insulin levels were normal and after six years, I no longer needed my diabetes tablets. Still today, 18 months on, I don’t take them. It’s astonishing really that a diet – hard as it was – could change my health so drastically. After six years of having diabetes I can tell the difference - I feel better, even walking round the golf course is easier."

 


"At first the hunger was quite severe and I had to distract myself with something else – walking the dog, playing golf – or doing anything to occupy myself and take my mind off food, but I lost an astounding amount of weight in a short space of time."


The Research featured at the American Diabetes Association conference and published in Diabetologia, transforms thinking on diabetes. It demonstrates that people who go on a very low calorie diet can remove fat which is clogging up the pancreas allowing normal insulin secretion to be restored.

 

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said: “We welcome the results of this research because it shows that Type 2 diabetes can be reversed, on a par with successful surgery without the side effects. However, this diet is not an easy fix and Diabetes UK strongly recommends that such a drastic diet should only be undertaken under medical supervision. Despite being a very small trial, we look forward to future results particularly to see whether the reversal would remain in the long term.”

Student information - what is Type 2 diabetes

Diabetes is a common life-long health condition. There are 2.8 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK and an estimated 850,000 people who have the condition but don’t know it.

Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. This is because your pancreas does not produce any insulin, or not enough, to help glucose enter your body’s cells – or the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance).

Traditionally, Type 2, or adult-onset diabetes has been thought that as a progressive condition which has to be controlled initially by diet, then tablets, but may eventually require insulin injections.

Worringly, the condition is increasingly found in young adults and children.  Type 2 diabetes is caused by too much glucose in the blood due to the pancreas not producing enough insulin - a hormone which breaks down glucose into energy in the cells – or due to the body not reacting to it, known as insulin sensitivity. 

Read the full study