Intermittent fasting is not a fad diet. There, I wrote it. Intermittent fasting (IF) is eating for a limited amount of time. Good metabolic results can be achieved with the guidance of a clinical dietitian. The fad shift to dieting began when inadequate and inadequate “research” began to emerge, primarily regarding surprising results such as weight loss. Celebrities started to endorse the ‘diet’ and it was a hit. Then came the effect on diabetes. Again, ill-structured studies claimed a “reversal” of diabetes, which became a demand from patients/clients.
Healthcare has started to seriously consider this. Since 2016, there have been several excellent clinical studies, including randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses of human subjects on IF. Before wrapping up this conversation, let me describe the metabolic parameters that are central to diabetes treatment.
The goals of diabetes management are to:
- Achieving and maintaining good glycemic control
- Managing and Reducing Diabetes Symptoms
- Management of comorbidities such as obesity, blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Prevention of neurological, cardiovascular and renal function
- Infectious disease prevention
Achieving these goals requires following a holistic lifestyle, including a healthy diet, adequate physical activity, medication (if needed), and timely check-ups.
Also read: Intermittent fasting can cause weight loss to plateau after a while – don’t make these 5 diet mistakes
IF is a program that can be tracked in many ways.
- With a 5:2 fast, you eat normally for 5 days and only eat 25% to 30% of your caloric intake for 2 days.
- 8:16 fast 8 hour eating window and 16 hour fasting.
- 10:14 is a 10 hour eating window and a 14 hour fast.
All of these methods have been explored and results mapped in various studies show certain benefits in managing diabetes.
Good to moderate weight loss can be achieved with IF. A 5% to 10% weight loss over a period of time is known to help control blood sugar. The scientific combination of a healthy diet and resistance training can help you lose fat while preserving muscle. Low fat stores in the liver and pancreas improve glucose levels.
Improving insulin sensitivity:
IF works through what is known as metabolic reset. Fasting causes a depletion of carbohydrate stores and the body uses free fatty acids for energy. Ketones are the end products of this metabolic pathway. This process is associated with improved insulin sensitivity, decreased inflammatory response and thus improved glycemic control.
Insulin resistance is often associated with high circulating insulin. This is a common reaction in type II diabetes and prediabetes. Long-term high insulin is closely associated with increased obesity, especially abdominal obesity, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The science behind IF is a period of fasting that reliably lowers insulin levels in the absence of carbohydrates, leading to fat loss.
Improving Hunger Hormones:
A modest improvement in hunger hormones is seen with IF.Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, increases during fasting and is associated with reduced abdominal fat and improved insulin sensitivity.
Improving Gut Health:
Animal and human studies have shown that fasting improves gut bacteria. An increase in good bacteria is seen in the fasted state. IF is believed to permanently improve beneficial bacterial colonies in the gut.
Looking at these benefits, we can say that IF is ideal for diabetes. However, research to date suggests that not all individuals may be candidates for IF. The exact length of fasting varies from person to person, and sometimes fasting can lead to stress.
To wrap up the conversation, is IF the answer to controlling diabetes? Maybe. Your doctor is your best guide to your treatment protocol.Will IF lead to remission? Again, your doctor should check your overall health parameters before deciding if you are a candidate for remission.
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