Prevent Diabetes with Intermittent Fasting

It is one of the most widespread diseases: diabetes mellitus. A distinction is made between type 1 and type 2, with the latter in particular being considered a disease of affluence – over 90 percent of all diabetics suffer from it. Above all, people who are significantly overweight and have a family history are affected. The explanation for this is usually an unbalanced diet with large amounts of carbohydrate-containing foods and drinks. Combined with a lack of exercise, insulin resistance can progress rapidly.

What exactly happens in the body?

After each meal, more sugar molecules swim in the blood – the blood sugar. The pancreas produces insulin so that it can get into the cells. This injects the sugar into the cells. This lowers the sugar level in the blood again. But if we eat often, without long breaks, the cells change. The receptors for insulin become dull, they get tired and stop responding. The result: insulin can no longer dock. The sugar stays in the blood – diabetes develops. Heart attack, nerve damage, blindness, or kidney failure are common late effects.

Study in mice

At the German Institute for Human Nutrition in Potsdam, scientists are looking for ways to prevent diabetes – in mice and humans. The researchers examined three groups of mice: The first group was allowed to eat as much as they wanted. These mice grew fat and heavy. They ate a lot of fat and a lot of carbohydrates around the clock. Group two received ten percent less food per day than the first group. And group three got an intermittent fasting cure: one day the animals got nothing, and the next they got unlimited food.

The researchers saw differences in the liver cells of the mice: the animals in group one accumulated harmful fats that promote diabetes – as did group two, although there were slightly fewer fats here. In group three, on the other hand, hardly any toxic fats developed. These mice were protected from diabetes. The researchers found that in muscle and liver cells, the insulin uptake signal was enhanced by the fasting period in group three.

A radical change in diet in test subjects works

The researchers used these findings for their subjects. A study with 100 subjects has been running for a year. They had to radically change their diet: in the first three weeks, they were only allowed to drink protein-vitamin shakes with their main meals. In between, no food was allowed. The result: the metabolism switches. In the period that followed, the test subjects were to continue to eat only three times a day and take a five-hour break between meals. Food with a lot of vitamins, little fat, and carbohydrates was put on the plate.

The researchers regularly checked how the body coped with a sugar load. For this purpose, a sugar solution had to be drunk and the blood values ​​were measured after 30, 60, and 90 minutes. The result: the test subjects’ cells were able to process sugar better again. The liver also benefited from fasting: the fat content decreased. In addition, the subjects reduced their body weight.

Study participants wanted

The scientists also want to accompany their test subjects in the next ten years. They are also looking for more study participants. Interested parties can contact the press office of the German Institute for Nutritional Research.

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