Intermittent Fasting for Blood Sugar Control and Weight Loss in Insulin-Treated Type 2 Diabetes

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For persons with diabetes, controlling blood sugar levels and insulin doses forms a major part of health management. In the case of type 2 diabetes, the latest studies show that intermittent fasting is a feasible and safe option to control body weight while keeping blood sugar levels and insulin dosage in check. Of the population with diabetes, around 95% have type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition characterized by high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. The number of people affected by this variety of diabetes has increased around five times between 1980 and 2021. With the general consensus that type 2 diabetes mellitus is incurable, affected individuals are recommended to have a lifestyle that keeps the condition under control.

Now, there is solid evidence that the irreversible status of type 2 diabetes may not hold as strong. Research undertaken by Anna Obermayer from Medical University of Graz, Austria has indicated that calorie restriction and intensive lifestyle changes can lead to remission from type 2 diabetes. Intermittent fasting is characterized by alternate fasting and eating, and has gained popularity as a dietary intervention that aids in weight loss. For persons with type 2 diabetes, intermittent fasting holds promise in weight reduction attempts, compared to the traditional calorie restricting regimen.

In an experiment where the feasibility of 3 non-consecutive days of intermittent fasting per week was tested for over 12 weeks in patients with insulin-treated type 2 diabetes, positive results were maintained. Over the 12 weeks, the participants also had their glucose levels monitored and received dietary counseling. After that, they had the participants reduce their calorie intake by 75% on three consecutive days and eat as they pleased for the rest of the week. With no incidents of severe hypoglycemia, there were no adverse effects related to the intervention during this period.

In the time of 12 weeks, the HbA1c levels of the intermittent fasting group went from 69 mmol/mol (8.5%) to 7.3 mmol/mol. In the beginning, the fasting group was administered a dose of insulin at 52 IU, which dropped to 45 IU during the period. On the other hand, the control group saw the insulin dose increase from 59 IU to 63 IU during the trial period. In terms of body weight also, the intermittent fasting group saw a decline of 4.77 kg on an average whereas the control group showed a 0.27 kg increase. Thus, the study clearly shows that intermittent fasting has an impact on HbA1c levels and body weight.

One thing to note about intermittent fasting studies is that, more often than not, only one type of intermittent fasting is the focus of the study. There also needs to be a wider variety of people with type 2 diabetes in the group, to fully understand the implications of the dietary intervention. Finally, in the case of diabetes, remission from the condition is not the only concern. Therapeutic measures should also focus on relieving the organ systems from diabetes-related effects.

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