Type 2 diabetes is a chronic progressively destructive condition that affects the way the body processes blood sugar (glucose). Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes comes with great social and financial consequences for the patients, as well as poorer quality of life and health expectancy projections. Formerly considered an older person disease, type 2 diabetes is now common in younger, fatter, people and even the very young who are severely obese. Currently remission rates for type 2 diabetes are around 10 – 14%, but apparently, it could be much higher. But that would take an understanding of diet and will power lacking in many who suffer from this disease.
Prof Roy Taylor of the U.K.’s Newcastle University has spent forty years researching the underlying causes of diabetes and proclaims it is reversible. Through his research presented at the European Association For The Study Of Diabetes (EASD 2017) in Lisbon, Taylor has developed his Twin Cycle Hypothesis — that Type 2 diabetes is caused by too much fat in both the liver and the pancreas. He states in his study that too many calories lead to too much fat in the liver. As a result, a chain of bad things happen. The fatty liver doesn’t respond as well to insulin, and produces too much glucose. And the excess fat in the liver is transmitted to other areas of the body, including the pancreas, where the cells that produce insulin start to fail.
Prof Taylor endorses a two-phase weight-loss approach to reversing the disease. Phase 1 is the weight and fat loss phase, which consists of calorie restriction without additional exercise. Phase 2 is long-term weight maintenance with modest calorie restriction and increased physical activity. The approach is based on evidence from recent clinical trials. In a trial from 2011, people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes showed a reversal in their blood sugar levels to normal when they lost weight on a calorie-restrictive diet. The patients in the trial who followed the very low calorie diet had a substantial decline in liver fat content resulting in normalization of hepatic insulin sensitivity within seven days. Over eight weeks on the diet, the pancreas fat content fell and normal first phase insulin secretion became re-established which allowed the body to regain control of sugar levels. In a follow-up study in 2016, people who had Type 2 diabetes for up to 10 years were able to reverse their condition when they lost around 33 pounds. The low-calorie diet was also found to be associated with rapidly increased well-being, with no hunger or signs of fatigue in most people that participated in the study.
“I think the real importance of this work is for the patients themselves,” Professor Taylor says. “Many have described to me how embarking on the low-calorie diet has been the only option to prevent what they thought — or had been told — was an inevitable decline into further medication and further ill health because of their diabetes.”
“The good news for people with Type 2 diabetes is that our work shows that even if you have had the condition for 10 years, you are likely to be able to reverse it by moving that all important tiny amount of fat out of the pancreas,” said Taylor. “At present, this can only be done through substantial weight loss.