Is Fasting the Key to Treating Diabetes?

By MaYa | Articles

Aug 31

Fasting is a traditional spiritual aspect of many religions such as Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism. It is a common form of abstinence from food in a time of prayer, purification and reflection.

But, there is a possibility that it might increase glucose levels, which is why some people need to take medications while they are fasting. In the end, it might cause diabetic ketoacidosis, and you will have to visit the hospital.

The symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis may include urinating too often or feeling too thirsty all the time. Therefore, it is important for a person to consume fluids while they are fasting if they want to avoid dehydration and medical treatments.

Changing Your Diet

If you start fasting, you need to know that it will be highly different compared to your everyday diet.

In other words, you need to eat balanced meals and not overeat. Moreover, if you have diabetes and you are fasting, try to eat more foods that have low glycemic index.

Such examples are chapattis, basmati rice, dhal and pitta bread. Try eating these foods before you decide on fasting and make sure you don’t starve your body. Besides these foods can make you feel full and keep your blood glucose levels balanced.

However, if you decide to stop fasting, you need to eat small portions of sugary or fatty foods to gain the weight back. Plus, you can even use regular oil while cooking for better results.

In addition, you should drink a lot of water and sugar-free drinks to avoid dehydration.

How Does the Body React During Fasting?

It all depends on how long you are fasting. Usually, the body starts to respond about eight hours after your last meal. As a result, it will use the sources of glucose and dissolve the body fat to create a new source of energy.

In the end, it will help you lose weight. Especially if you are overweight, you can control your blood glucose, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels if you are fasting for a longer period.

What Studies Claim?

A US professor at biochemistry Richard Feinman, together with his colleagues made a groundbreaking study on this subject. In 2015 there was a study published in Science Direct. According to their latest research, a low carb diet is ideal for managing diabetes.

Other studies from Dr. Lesica claim that if you restrict the intake of carbohydrates in the body while fasting, you may reduce the reduce the chance of dying from cancer.

Furthermore, there are even more studies that claim restricted eating can improve the general health and increase longevity. The reasons behind these results remain unclear.

Some researchers believe that by depriving the body of food you can give the cells a break from repair and maintenance.

However, it might force the cells to use other sources of energy, like ketones. This may prove that restriction of calories isn’t useful for the body because the body needs the necessary nutrients to function properly.

The head of a research team, Valter Longo from the University of Southern California, tested how a periodic fasting can affect mice with diabetes. The mutant mice lacked leptin – a fat hormone.

During the research, these mice became diabetic and obese before they reached full adulthood.

The mice were fasting for seven unrestricted and four restricted days. In the end, their diabetes was cured. But does it affect humans the same way? And the answer would be unknown. Also, other clinical trials followed, this time by Longo.

During this period, 100 people tried fasting for one month, more accurately, 25 days of unrestricted and five days of restricted eating. As a result, the subjects with high blood sugar levels had astonishing improvements without dangerous side-effects.

So Should You Do It?

It is all up to you, but it is not necessary. Even though multiple studies confirm fasting is useful for treating diabetes, there is still the need for more research to conclude whether it is useful or not for humans as well.

The Fasting-Mimicking Diet

During the various studies, researchers were able to restore the functions of the pancreas and reverse some symptoms of diabetes in mice, only by using the fasting-mimicking diet. The way it works is quite interesting.

It tricks the body into starting a fasting mode even when you consume specifically selected foods to eat. This may be enough to boost the essential functions of the organs and restore insulin production, as scientists claim.

According to the same team from the University of Southern California, if you force mice into an extreme state and bring them back, their cells in the pancreas can cause a significant development and reprogram their entire system, says Valter Longo.

When it comes to humans, this fasting-mimicking diet might help shed some weight and reduce the risk of developing heart diseases and cancer. Moreover, as trials state, fasting can reduce symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis.

For more than seven months, mice underwent numerous tests to see how artificial fasting might affect their bodies. As a result, researchers concluded that it was the right thing to do because it restored beta cells in the pancreases, stored and released insulin.

Plus, some human donors also participated in similar experiments. This helped the scientist come up with results that fasting produced more Ngn3 protein and insulin which is crucial for a normal function in the pancreas.

In other words, fasting might prove useful for humans as well, but we shouldn’t get our hopes up, not until we have conclusive evidence.

Other Things to Remember

Test your glucose level before you decide to start fasting, especially if you are taking any diabetes medications. You need to consult with your doctor first.

Moreover, if you feel any symptoms like disorientation, shakiness and abnormal sweating you must stop fasting immediately.

It is important to make sure that you are healthy first and that your body can handle this kind of a diet. Besides, you can even take breaks from fasting and try to eat meals as you normally do.

But, if you have type 1 diabetes, there is a possibility that your glucose levels may increase if you are fasting.

If you feel any sudden changes or uncomfortable feelings in your stomach while you are fasting, make sure you consult with your doctor or a healthcare team. Also, you need to ensure that you can keep your diabetes under control.

Plus, your doctor might suggest other medications for you.

Summary

Always consult with your physician before you decide to start fasting.

You need to keep your glucose levels always in check so that you can control your diabetes at all times. But, if you decide you want to take a break you can eat like you normally do and later continue with a balanced diet.

Plus, make sure you consume foods that your body can slowly absorb. Such foods are sugar-free and fat-free consumables. However, make sure always to drink fluids to avoid dehydration.

Source: FoodMed | Diabetes UK | Science Alert | BBC