Last updated: 24.05.17

Low-calorie diet may help cases of diabetes

Through a type of fasting diet, the pancreas can be triggered to regenerate itself, it has been reported.

According to a study by researchers from the University of Southern California and the Koch Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US and the IFOM FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology in Italy, research in mice found that a low-calorie diet may help in cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

The body uses the pancreas to break down sugars in the blood by allowing specialised cells to produce insulin.

However, in type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce insulin and in type 2, either not enough insulin is produced or the body becomes resistant to the insulin.

During the study, mice were fed for four consecutive days on a low-calorie, low protein and low-carbohydrate but high-fat diet. This meant that they received only half of their normal daily calorie intake on day one, followed by three days of ten per cent of their normal calorie intake.

This was repeated on three occasions, with a period of ten days in between where the mice were refed. Following this, researchers examined the pancreas.

It was revealed that in mice with type 1 and 2 diabetes, insulin production was restored, insulin resistance was reduced, and beta cells could be regenerated. Lab study using human cells showed a similar potential.

Anne Cooke, professor of immunology at the University of Cambridge, commented: "This is good science and does give promise for the future treatment of diabetes, but we need further studies to see whether this works in people as well as it has in mice."

Researchers warned that those suffering from diabetes should not attempt a fasting diet without consulting a doctor first as sudden changes to a diet could cause complications.