A fasting-diet could reverse diabetes, Study

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A fasting diet has the ability to regenerate the pancreas and could potentially reverse diabetes, researchers have found

Restoring the function of the organ - which helps control blood sugar levels - reversed symptoms of diabetes in animal experiments.

The study, published in the journal Cell, says the diet reboots the body.

The study's co-author, Dr Valter Longo from the University of Southern California, told the ABC the findings were "potentially very exciting" because they could lead to cures for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Research in mice found a low-calorie diet may help in cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

The pancreas is an organ that uses specialised cells known as beta cells to produce the hormone insulin, which the body uses to break down sugars in the blood (glucose).

In type 1 diabetes the pancreas stops producing insulin. In type 2 diabetes either not enough insulin is produced or cells in the body fail to respond to insulin (insulin resistance).

Mice were fed for four days on a low-calorie, low-protein and low-carbohydrate but high-fat diet, receiving half their normal daily calorie intake on day one, followed by three days of 10% of their normal calorie intake.
Researchers repeated this fast on three occasions, with 10 days of re-feeding in between. They then examined the pancreas.
They found in mice modelled to have both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, insulin production was restored, insulin resistance was reduced, and beta cells could be regenerated. Early lab study involving human cell samples showed similar potential.
Dr Valter Longo, concluded that: 
"Our conclusion is that by pushing the mice into an extreme state and then bringing them back - by starving them and then feeding them again - the cells in the pancreas are triggered to use some kind of developmental reprogramming that rebuilds the part of the organ that's no longer functioning."
These are promising results, but further studies are needed to validate these findings in humans.

Dr Longo warned people not to take up a fasting diet without consulting a doctor.

"This should not be done at home with self-made diets and should be done under medical supervision," he said.

Dr Longo said the next step was to carry out clinical trials on humans, however he encouraged patients to speak to their doctor before trying this at home.

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