Intermittent Fasting and Diabetes
Diabetes is a continual center of research for health specialists and scientists. Due to the annual increase in the number of diabetes cases, it’s no surprise that various means have been developed to counter the condition. One of the popular methods believed to reduce the risks associated with this disease is intermittent fasting.
Intermittent fasting entails following a diet plan that restricts your food intake to a specific period, followed by a period of fasting. While fasting might be limited to some hours, some individuals might extend it for days.
Aside from its benefits for weight loss, research on intermittent fasting and diabetes proves that it might have other anti-diabetic effects.
How Does Intermittent Fasting Improve Diabetes?
Significant adjustments to your diet, like intermittent fasting, can cause harm to the person with diabetes condition. Namely, this diet plan may prompt undesirable swings in blood sugar levels. Yet, it also presents some desirable benefits to a person's health. Let’s see how.
Promotes Weight Loss
Due to a slashed intake of food, calorie accumulation is reduced while stored calories are used up, prompting a subsequent weight reduction. Weight loss is desirable for people with diabetes, as excessive weight gain poses certain health risks. Remarkably, research links weight loss to a delayed onset or reduced risk of type 2 diabetes in prediabetes patients.
Furthermore, in type 2 diabetes, weight loss may enhance glycemic control and even reverse type 2 diabetes progression when extreme calorie restriction is observed. Finally, there are speculations that weight loss could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disorders in overweight/obese type 2 diabetes patients.
Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Excessive weight gain is one of the common causes of insulin resistance which subsequently increases blood glucose levels. However, the effect of intermittent fasting on weight loss has been found to reverse the effects of insulin resistance.
One animal study proves that moderate calorie restriction reduces total fat mass and visceral fat. More importantly, it reverses age-induced hepatic insulin resistance while peripheral insulin sensitivity remains unaltered.
Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
People with diabetes are constantly developing complications, with heart disease being one of the commonest. According to studies, this complication has been attributed to insulin therapy in type 2 diabetes patients. Namely, the constant administration of injectable insulin predisposes them to atherosclerosis, inflammation, hypertension, heart failure, dyslipidemia, and arrhythmias.
Thankfully, recent research indicates that intermittent fasting may reduce the need for insulin in people with diabetes. The study, which focused on three patients, found that an intermittent fasting-induced weight loss of at least 10% eliminated the need for insulin in as little as 5–30 days.
Since intermittent fasting eliminates the need for insulin therapy in type 2 diabetes patients—a predisposing factor for cardiovascular diseases—there are speculations that it could help reduce the risk of heart disorders.
May Prevent Diabetic Retinopathy
Diabetic retinopathy is one of the most feared diabetic complications and doubles as one of the most common causes of blindness in middle-aged people. Thankfully, intermittent fasting has been proven by research to improve this condition.
One animal study found that despite no considerable effect on glycemic control or body weight, intermittent fasting boosted survival and reduced diabetic retinopathy endpoints. More particularly, intermittent fasting increased the concentration of tauroursodeoxycholate (TUDCA), a bile acid with neuroprotective functions.
The activation of this bile acid’s receptors—present in retinal neural cells—was found to prevent diabetic retinopathy. Hence, it follows that intermittent fasting indirectly improves diabetic retinopathy. However, there’s a need for further human-based studies to reinforce this idea.
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Helpful Tips for Better Intermittent Fasting
While intermittent fasting does offer a handful of desirable benefits to people with diabetes, it could lead to hypoglycemia when wrongly undertaken. Here are some tips to help you avoid such complications:
- Continuously monitor your energy — if you feel like you are losing excess energy or feel fatigued, you should stop the fast.
- Contact your health specialist concerning medication or insulin dosage adjustments.
- Watch the amount of carbs you consume when you are not fasting to prevent spikes in blood glucose.
- Since intermittent fasting reduces blood glucose, it’s essential to monitor it constantly.
Research on intermittent fasting and diabetes highlights its numerous benefits to diabetes patients. Yet, it’s advised you speak with your physician before you embark on this dieting plan.
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