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Consuming a low-calorie diet may help reverse diabetes, according to a study which contradicts the perception that the condition is progressive and incurable.
Researchers from Newcastle University in the UK said that type 2 diabetes is caused by excess fat within both liver and pancreas.
This causes the liver to respond poorly to insulin. As insulin controls the normal process of making glucose, the liver then produces too much glucose.
Simultaneously, excess fat in the liver increases the normal process of export of fat to all tissues. In the pancreas, this excess fat causes the insulin producing cells to fail.
Researchers noted a profound fall in liver fat content resulting in normalisation of hepatic insulin sensitivity within seven days of starting a very low-calorie diet in people with type 2 diabetes.
They found that fasting plasma glucose became normal in seven days. Over eight weeks, the raised pancreas fat content fell and normal first phase insulin secretion became re-established, with normal plasma glucose control.
"The good news for people with Type 2 diabetes is that our work shows that even if you have had the condition for 10 years, you are likely to be able to reverse it by moving that all important tiny amount of fat out of the pancreas," said Roy Taylor, a professor at Newcastle University.
"At present, this can only be done through substantial weight loss," said Taylor.