Type 2 diabetes has long been viewed as an incurable, chronic condition that often requires lifelong management through medication, such as Glucophage (metformin) and insulin. But a study published in December 2017 in the journal The Lancet suggested following a radical diet that restricts calorie consumption to under 1,000 per day has the potential to reverse the disease in some individuals without using conventional treatments.
“Our findings suggest that even if you have had type 2 diabetes for six years, putting the disease into remission is feasible,” colead author Michael Lean, bachelor of medicine and chair of human nutrition at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom, says in a news release. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 100 million American adults are living with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Worldwide, an estimated 108 million people have type 2 diabetes, according to the World Health Organization.
What Previous Research Says About Reversing Diabetes Through Weight Loss
Previous studies have found that diet and weight loss can help people better manage diabetes, and in some cases, such as through the CDC Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), prevent prediabetes from progressing into type 2 diabetes. In fact, an analysis published in September 2017 in the journal BMJ offered a magic number of pounds that is linked with reversal of diabetes: 33 pounds (lbs).
Though risky, bariatric surgery also can help people with diabetes better manage the disease — potentially better than medication alone, according to a study published in February 2017 in the New England Journal of Medicine.