The Food Hospital special: Extreme Diet Ward follows ground-breaking research by Professor Roy Taylor which found people could reverse their diabetes with an extreme low calorie diet alone.
Affecting two and half million people in the UK – and on the increase – Type 2 diabetes is a long-term condition caused by too much glucose, a type of sugar, in the blood. In the clinical trial published two years ago, 11 people reversed their diabetes by drastically cutting their food intake to just 600 calories a day for two months. And three months later, seven remained free of diabetes.
For the Channel 4 programme, six women embarked on a low calorie diet with three of the following this extreme regime.
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.
“This is a radical change in understanding Type 2 diabetes. It will change how we can explain it to people newly diagnosed with the condition. While it has long been believed that someone with Type 2 diabetes will always have the disease, and that it will steadily get worse, we have shown that we can reverse the condition.”
Patients or GPs wanting more information on the diet should see the Magnetic Resonance website.
The original research published in Diabetologia in 2011 transformed thinking on diabetes. It demonstrated 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.
Traditionally, it has been thought that as a progressive condition, Type 2 diabetes can be controlled by diet initially then tablets, but may eventually require insulin injections. Type 2 diabetes, which was once known as adult-onset diabetes, is now found in young adults and children. It 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.
The results of the diet
Under close supervision of a medical team, 11 people who had developed diabetes later in life were put on an extreme diet of just 600 calories a day consisting of liquid diet drinks and non-starchy vegetables. They were matched to a control group of people without diabetes and then monitored over eight weeks. Insulin production from their pancreas and fat content in the liver and pancreas were studied. After just one week, the Newcastle University team found that their pre-breakfast blood sugar levels had returned to normal.
A special MRI scan of their pancreas revealed that the fat levels in the pancreas had returned from an elevated level to normal (from around 8% to 6%). In step with this, the pancreas regained the normal ability to make insulin and as a result, blood sugar after meals steadily improved.
The volunteers were then followed-up three months later. During this time they had returned to eating normally but had received advice on portion size and healthy eating. Of the ten people re-tested, seven remained free of diabetes.
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