According to projections by the Center for Disease Control, it is estimated that by 2050, 1 in 3 Americans will develop type 2 diabetes.

Unlike type 1 diabetes, which occurs when the pancreas produces little to no insulin. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or even held back with a healthy lifestyle. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the liver does not produce enough of the hormone insulin, or the body can’t use insulin properly.

But there may be good news for those who suffer from type 2 diabetes. Previous research has shown that the type 2 diabetes goes into remission in many patients who undergo bariatric weight-loss surgery, which significantly restricts caloric intake. Now a new study published in Cell Metabolism by a YALE University-led research team has uncovered how a very low-calorie diet can rapidly reverse type 2 diabetes in animal trials.

A very low-calorie diet consists of food intake of about 500 calories a day as opposed to the average of 3000 calories a healthy person may consume in a day.

Using mice, the Yale-led team’s study focused on understanding the mechanisms by which caloric restriction rapidly reverses type 2 diabetes.

The researchers first analyzed a number of metabolic processes that contribute to the increased glucose production by the liver by using a method known as PINTA. Allowing them insight as to what might contribute to insulin resistance and increased rates of glucose production by the liver.

The researchers then pinpointed three major mechanisms responsible for the very low-calorie diet’s dramatic effect on rapidly lowering blood glucose concentrations in the diabetic animals.

In the liver, a very low-calorie diet lowers glucose production by:

  • reducing the conversion of lactate and amino acids into glucose;
  • reducing the rate of liver glycogen conversion to glucose; and
  • reducing fat content, which in turn improves the liver’s response to insulin.

These positive effects of a very low-calorie diet were observed in just three days of testing. The team now hopes to replicate their findings in human trials.

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