Study Reveals Why Very Low Calorie Diets Can Normalize Blood Sugar

Medical records show that type 2 diabetes goes into remission for many people following bariatric surgery, a weight loss procedure that substantially restricts a patient’s caloric intake. Now, researchers at Yale have discovered how this diet-induced remission occurs.

To make their discovery the investigators gave a very low calorie diet (VLCD), which is one-quarter of normal intake, to some unsuspecting diabetic rodents. Then, a method called PINTA was used to track their metabolic liver processes that likely contribute to insulin resistance, and increased glucose production—two factors in type 2 diabetes onset.

The PINTA research method revealed three mechanisms in the liver that quickly reduced blood sugar levels in the dieting, diabetic animals. First, the VLCD decreased the transformation of lactate and amino acids into glucose. Second, the diet decreased the rate at which liver glycogen converts to glucose. Third, the VLCD lowered fat content, enhancing the liver’s response to insulin.

“Using this approach to comprehensively interrogate liver carbohydrate and fat metabolism, we showed that it is a combination of three mechanisms that is responsible for the rapid reversal of hyperglycemia following a very low calorie diet,” said researcher Gerald I. Shulman, M.D., the George R. Cowgill Professor of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Physiology, and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

This study has been published in Cell Metabolism. The next research phase involves using the PINTA methodology for liver analysis in humans, to see whether the laboratory findings can be replicated. Study participants will have a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and either be undergoing bariatric surgery, or consuming very low calorie diets.

Source: Yale News
Photo credit: Tella Chen

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