Intermittent fasting reverses insulin dependence in 3 diabetics

Three men with type 2 diabetes used intermittent fasting to lose weight, lower their blood sugar levels and reverse their dependence on insulin treatment, according to a case study report published in The BMJ.

"People are focused on giving drugs to type 2 diabetes, but it's a dietary disease," study coauthor Jason Fung, MD, told CNN.

The report raises the question of whether dietary approaches can reverse diabetes, which has traditionally been viewed as a chronic, irreversible disease. If so, patients could save an enormous amount of money on insulin, which has prices so high that a quarter of diabetics in a single-center study said they use less than what is prescribed because of cost concerns.

Some experts stressed caution with interpreting the results of the case study, citing the small sample size and the general population’s limited ability to sustain meaningful weight loss by changing diet and exercise habits.

The case study included men ages 40, 52 and 67, all of whom had been diagnosed with diabetes at least a decade prior. They followed 24-hour fasts multiple times per week, during which they were allowed to consume only water, coffee and broth.

None of the men experienced hypoglycemia although other studies on fasting and diabetes have reported this risk, according to CNN.

Fung said he is hoping this early evidence—albeit in only three patients—can help advocate for larger studies on intermittent fasting’s effect on diabetes.

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