Diabetes

Remission (im)possible?

In Northern Ireland, over 71,000 people have Type 2 diabetes (Public Health Agency, 2015). There are likely to be many more as yet undiagnosed cases. Type 2 diabetes is characterised by high blood glucose levels, which will cause future health problems if left untreated.

Globally, over 80% of people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight at diagnosis. It is widely accepted that increasing levels of obesity increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Therefore, managing weight is going to reduce your risk of developing diabetes.

But what if I already have Type 2 diabetes? Can it be reversed?

An on-going clinical trial called DiRECT (Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial) released preliminary results before Christmas, with impressive results.

Participants were recruited within 6 years of diagnosis, and all were overweight. They followed an 800 calorie diet of specially formulated soups and shakes for 8 to 20 weeks.

The study found that 86% of participants who lost ≥15kg (2st 5lbs) achieved remission (that is, blood glucose levels could be maintained at healthy levels without the use of medication).

Does this mean that I have a high chance of achieving remission?

Maybe. That’s not the conviction you might want but it seems probable that remission is most likely in the early years post diagnosis, and provided a significant weight loss is achieved.

It is important to be clear that the participants achieved remission, not cure. It remains to be seen how long the remission state lasts. It would seem plausible that if weight loss was the key to achieving remission, then keeping weight off will be a key strategy in staying in remission. However, this also highlights that taking action to lose weight to prevent Type 2 diabetes may be a safer bet.

Could a low calorie diet help me?

If you are affected by diabetes and want help determining if a low calorie diet may be suitable for you, contact me for a no-obligation conversation about the pros and cons of this approach. Do not attempt a low calorie diet independently, especially if you are using tablets or insulin to manage your Type 2 diabetes, or other medications such as blood pressure tablets.

Further information

The study is not yet complete so this dietary approach to achieving remission is NOT currently available on the NHS. Get more information at https://blogs.diabetes.org.uk.

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