But don’t try this at home—the results are mainly in mice and need verifying.
In mice with either type I or type 2 diabetes, an intense, four-day fasting diet seemed to regenerate pancreas cells and restore insulin production. Researchers reported this finding on Thursday in Cell.
In Petri dish experiments, human pancreas cells from patients with type 1 diabetes also showed altered gene expression and kick-started insulin production after being exposed to blood from people on a fasting diet.
The results of the early work are promising for potential dietary treatments of both types of diabetes. Type I is caused by a loss of insulin production, while type 2 is caused by diminished production or insensitivity to insulin, a hormone that triggers the breakdown of sugar in the blood.
But the research needs to be verified. Far more work in humans needs to be done before researchers can make any sort of conclusions or treatment recommendations. Experts warn that trying out the diet could trigger dangerous complications in diabetic patients.
“It boils down to ‘do not try this at home’,” Dr. Valter Longo, lead author of the study and a researcher at University of Southern California, told the BBC. “This is so much more sophisticated than people realize.”
The mice were given a low-calorie, low-protein, low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet for four days. On the first day, the mice could only eat 50 percent of their normal calorie intake. For the remaining three days, the mice ate just 10 percent. Next, they got up to 10 days of normal eating, which allowed them to regain lost weight, before another four-day fast. The mice went through this cycle three times.
Mice that model type I diabetes saw a boost in their pancreatic beta cells, which generate insulin. In mice modeling type 2 diabetes, researchers saw restored insulin production and reduced insulin resistance.
“This is good science and does give promise for the future treatment of diabetes,” immunologist Anne Cooke of the University of Cambridge told the NHS. “But we need further studies to see whether this works in people as well as it has in mice.”
Link Original: https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/02/a-fasting-diet-may-trigger-regeneration-of-a-diabetic-pancreas/