This site is intended for health professionals only

Strict diet 'may reverse diabetes'

People with type 2 diabetes may be able to reverse their condition by following a very low calorie diet, according to new research.

The expert behind the study said the 'remarkable' findings showed an eight-week diet could prompt the body to produce its own insulin.

The breakthrough suggests a dramatic drop in calories has a direct effect on reducing fat accumulated in the pancreas, which, in turn, prompts insulin cells to 'wake up'.

Just 600 calories a day as part of a special diet could be enough to reverse type 2 diabetes in some patients. The condition affects almost 3.5 million people in the UK.

The findings are consistent with the belief that a lack of insulin secretion - which is vital for blood sugar control - is due to accumulation of fat in the liver and pancreas.

Experts at Newcastle University carried out an early-stage trial on 11 people with diabetes.

They each followed a diet of liquid drinks (containing 46.4% carbohydrate, 32.5% protein and 20.1% fat, with vitamins and minerals) and non-starchy vegetables.

After just one week, pre-breakfast blood sugar levels had returned to normal among the group.

Over two months, insulin cell function in the pancreas increased towards normal and pancreatic fat decreased, as shown on MRI scans.

Three months later, after going back to normal eating with advice on portion control and healthy foods, seven people remained free of diabetes.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

We asked if you think a low-calorie diet would be an effective treatment for diabetes. Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"And therein lies the problem - even though it has taken a lifetime (for most) to develop the problem, people want an overnight fix without any effort or inconvenience on their part, which is, clearly a ridiculous expectation. Take responsibility, take action and help your body heal itself as it can!" - Brian, UK

"Yes, I am sure it would have some effect on treating diabetes but who would wish to live such a quality of life, being restricted to just liquid drinks and vegetables? After all, quality matters as much as quantity in life. If I could return to normal food soon after, I would have no objections to it" - Elaine Sihera, Berkshire