A fasting diet may help to reverse diabetes

A type of fasting diet may reprogramme pancreas cells, promote the growth of new insulin-producing pancreatic cells and reduce symptoms of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, a study has showed.

In the study, led by researchers from the University of Southern California, mice were placed on fasting mimicking diet (FMD) for four days each week which showed remarkable reversal of diabetes.

The mice regained healthy insulin production, reduced insulin resistance and demonstrated more stable levels of blood glucose — even in the later stages of the disease, the researchers said in the paper published in the journal Cell.

The genes normally active in the developing pancreas of embryonic/foetal mice are reactivated in diabetic adult mice when cycling FMD with normal diets.

This increases production of the protein neurogenin-3 (Ngn3) and, as a result, promotes the creation of new, healthy insulin-producing beta cells.

Researchers also examined pancreatic cell cultures from human donors and found that, in cells from Type 1 diabetes patients, nutrients mimicking fasting also increased expression of the Ngn3 protein and insulin production.

“These findings warrant a larger FDA trial on the use of the Fasting Mimicking Diet to treat diabetes patients,” said Valter Longo from the University of Southern California.

“People with diabetes could one day be treated with an FDA-approved Fasting Mimicking Diet for a few days each month, eat a normal diet for the rest of the month, and see positive results in their ability to control their blood sugar by producing normal levels of insulin and improving insulin function,” Longo added.