What you eat matters for blood sugar levels; may even reverse diabetes, study finds
The findings may help identify people vulnerable to type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is a debilitating disease that affects millions of people each year. However, a new study has found that changing your diet can help reverse its effects. Here’s what you need to know.
Type 2 diabetes, which affects more than one million people each year, is a common condition that can last a lifetime and set the stage for other diseases. Despite the significant impact on blood sugar levels, people can cure and, in some cases, even reverse diabetes with dietary changes, researchers say. According to a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, people with type 2 diabetes can effectively manage their disease through carefully planned dietary changes. In doing so, the research team also emphasized the role of local pharmacists, who should carefully monitor medication use and dosage during diet.
Dietary interventions can reverse and treat type 2 diabetes
Studies have shown that lifestyle habits can help control diabetes. According to study co-author Dr. Jonathan Little, associate professor in the Faculty of Health and Exercise Sciences at UBC Okanagan, “Type 2 diabetes can be treated and sometimes even reversed with dietary interventions.
While going to a doctor is a good idea, most people (especially in rural areas) are much more likely to go to a pharmacist than a doctor. Dr. Little explains that “community pharmacists have expertise in medication management and can play an important role in overall diabetes care.”
A low-carbohydrate, low-calorie diet can help control blood glucose levels
For the study, researchers divided participants into two groups. While one group followed a diet plan, the other group did not change their usual habits. Participants in the study were given a meal plan with low-calorie, low-carbohydrate and high-protein foods, and were told to see their pharmacist regularly so they could monitor their prescriptions.
“When patients with type 2 diabetes follow a low-carbohydrate or low-calorie diet, blood glucose-lowering medications should be reduced or discontinued. Pharmacists are in an ideal position to safely and effectively provide interventions aimed at reducing diabetes medication while promoting remission of type 2 diabetes.”
According to the study results, more than one-third of the patients in the diet group had stopped taking all diabetes medications by the end of three months. None of the patients in the control group had experienced this. Mean body weight, blood glucose level adjustment, systolic blood pressure and general health improved significantly in the diet group.
Study co-author Dr. Alan Batterham, Professor in the School of Health and Life Sciences at Teesside University, concluded, “The intervention reduced the need for blood glucose lowering medication in many of the participants in our study. This suggests that community pharmacists are a viable and innovative option for delivering short-term nutritional interventions for people with type 2 diabetes, especially when medication management is a safety concern.”
In summary, the research team believes it is possible to treat and reverse diabetes by focusing on a “pharmacist-supervised nutritional approach that can monitor prescribed medications.”