Fasting isn't fun, but it may help diabetics lose weight and improve health

Can drastically cutting calories each week really improve health for diabetics?

There's no question that eliminating junk food and adhering to a certain number of calories each day can help with weight loss and blood sugar levels, but a recent scientific review suggests that fasting diets may indeed improve symptoms of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Fasting has been made popular in the last decade or so as a way to achieve quick weight loss, and popular diets like the Master Cleanse have given even more credibility to this approach. Researchers at Aston University evaluated various approaches to intermittent fasting in scientific studies, attempting to understand what advantages this tactic might provide in treating obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Results showed that intermittent fasting - alternating days of eating normally with days of extreme calorie restriction - was just as effective for weight loss, and possibly even more so, than counting calories every day. A review of evidence showed that fasting is effective for limiting inflammation, improving levels of sugar and fat in circulation and reducing blood pressure. Fasting was also shown to help increase metabolism and reduce oxidative stress.

Researchers note that that intermittent fasting is much different than long period of starvation. A regime of two days a week classified as "fasting days" alternated with regular eating days is easier to accomplish in the long run and, according to the review, is a proven way to shed excess weight. The researchers also note that restricting calorie intake might help reverse type 2 diabetes in some people, as it can help improve pancreatic function.

"Intermittent fasting might achieve much of the benefit seen with bariatric surgery, but without the costs, restriction on numbers and risks associated with surgery," said lead author, James Brown.

The results are also harmonious with another 2011 study that showed how a 500-calorie daily diet could help eliminate the need for insulin therapy in diabetics.

Fasting may not be safe for all diabetics, however, so check with your doctor before attempting any kind of fasting regimen.

The study is published in the British Journal of Diabetes and Vascular Disease.

Source: Medical Xpress

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