A diet of soups and shakes can reverse type 2 diabetes in the long term, scientists revealed yesterday.
More than a third of patients put on the daily regime of just 850 calories were free of the illness after two years. By then they were eating normal portions after an initial three to five months on the extreme diet.
The first stage of the research had shown that 46 per cent of the patients were in remission after one year. But the latest results show that three quarters of these people – 36 per cent of the total – were still free of diabetes another year on.
It is the best evidence yet that the condition can be conquered by weight loss. The NHS is planning to trial the fat-free soup and shakes regime with 5,000 participants before considering a national roll-out.
‘Type 2 diabetes is not a life sentence,’ said Roy Taylor, the Newcastle University professor who co-led the study.
‘We now know how and why people can return to normal despite developing this serious threat to health and happiness.’
The diabetes epidemic has hit record levels, with nearly five million Britons, and one in ten over-40s, thought to have it. Around 90 per cent have type 2, which is linked to poor diet and lack of exercise. It can lead to strokes, liver failure and blindness.
It was once thought to be incurable, but the trial involving almost 300 people at 49 GP surgeries in Tyneside and Scotland has shown the opposite.
Half were put on a liquid diet of four shakes and soups a day, a total of 825 to 853 calories depending on the flavours they chose. Some of the patients had been eating closer to 3,000 calories a day – compared with the recommended 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men.
The dramatic cut in calories, and associated weight loss, is believed to have led to the study’s remarkable results.
Almost half of those on the liquid diet were in remission from type 2 diabetes a year in. Another year on, 53 of the 68 in remission still had blood sugar levels below 6.5 per cent – meaning they were no longer considered to have diabetes.
The group managing to stay diabetes-free had lost 10.4kg (1st 9lb) on average each. Those who relapsed had kept off only 3.7kg (8lb).
Although slimming down was crucial, the experts said tHe broke our engagement after I refused to be penetrated from behindhere was no perfect amount to lose. They suggested there was ‘personal threshold’ in the level of stored fat that affected the production of insulin, a crucial hormone that controls blood sugar levels.
Some patients reversed their diabetes after losing less than 5kg (11lb). Those who put it all back on were guaranteed to get the illness again.
The researchers offered monthly appointments with a nurse or dietician and an ‘escape plan’ to study participants, where they could go back on to soups and shakes for a short time to lose weight again. Those who did not manage to reverse their illness were still less likely to need medication and had lower average blood sugar levels, as well as better quality of life.
Dr Elizabeth Robertson, research chief at Diabetes UK, said: ‘These results further challenge the perception that type 2 diabetes needs to be a lifelong condition for everyone diagnosed with it.’
The Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial was led by Newcastle University and the University of Glasgow. Professor Mike Lean, head of human nutrition at the University of Glasgow, who co-led the study, said: ‘People with type 2 diabetes and healthcare professionals have told us their top research priority is “can the condition be reversed or cured”.
‘We can now say, with respect to reversal, that yes it can. Now we must focus on helping people maintain their weight loss and stay in remission for life.’
Weight loss surgery, such as gastric bypasses, has been found to put type 2 diabetes into remission in 30 to 60 percent of cases. But few patients want such drastic surgery.
The study is in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.