Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is the form of diabetes that is closely associated with Obesity and Insulin resistance and is a significant facilitator of cardiac conditions and hypertension. An individual with these metabolic conditions often has high levels of glucose in their body, caused by either decreased insulin secretion, the resistance of the body cells to the effects of insulin, reduced utilization of glucose, or excessive production of glucose in the liver. Since Type 2 Diabetes is commonly associated with morbidity and mortality all over the world, experts are in the search for new remedies or diets which may help prevent and manage this condition to allow the individual to live a healthy life. One tool I frequently recommend to my clients Intermittent Fasting.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting has gained a lot of popularity all over the world ever since it was initially introduced and its therapeutic effects were discovered. It is a form of eating pattern where little to no amount of calories are consumed for a particular set of hours through the day. This may range from a few hours to a few days and is usually practiced in a regular pattern. (1)
The commonly practiced patterns of Intermittent Fasting include:
- Alternate Day Fasting: Alternate Day Fasting is when the individual practices fasting on alternate days, with “off” days in between.
- Periodic Fasting: Periodic Fasting is when the individual only practices fasting one or two days per week. This may also be called the 5:2 fasting, or 6:1 fasting, where 2 and 1 are the days of fasting per week.
- Time-Restricted Feeding: The most popular type of Intermittent Fasting is Time-Restricted Feeding, where the individual is only allowed to eat during specific hours of the day. The fasting hours per day range from 16 to 20 hours. (2)
What Are The Benefits Of Intermittent Fasting For Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus?
Intermittent fasting can lead to a reduction in Insulin resistance, which is one of the most important pathological processes that occur in the body of an individual affected by Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 and women with PCOS. Insulin resistance is when even though the body is producing adequate insulin, the cells of the body are unable to respond to this insulin.
The way in which intermittent fasting is affecting in preventing Insulin Resistance is that it leads to an increase in the levels of chemicals known as Adiponectin while reducing the levels of Leptin. Since studies have shown Adiponectin to have anti-diabetic effects and anti-inflammatory effects on the body, which may lead to metabolic reprogramming and making the cells more sensitive to insulin. (3)
Obesity is popularly known as a risk factor for two life-altering conditions known as Diabetes Mellitus and Hypertension. Hence, Intermittent Fasting is found to be effective for Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 by causing weight loss. Numerous studies have shown how individuals who are able to reduce their BMI through dietary interventions are able to reduce their risk of Diabetes Mellitus and have better control on their blood glucose levels. So much so that the American Diabetes Association recommends every individual who is at risk for the development of Diabetes Mellitus should undergo a weight reduction of at least 7% of their body weight by exercise and caloric restriction – which may be achieved by Intermittent Fasting. (4) However, studies have shown that you may not even have to go till 7%, but you can achieve adequate glycemic control with only a 5% reduction of your body weight as well. (5)
Reduction of Glucose levels
The glucose levels of the blood are a significant differentiating factor in an individual with diabetes and without diabetes. Since Diabetes Mellitus is associated with higher levels of glucose in the body, even in fasting states, it can lead to serious health problems like damage to the blood vessels, damage to vital organs, and development of cardiac conditions. However, intermittent fasting is found to be effective in diabetic and pre-diabetic individuals by lowering the fasting blood glucose by almost 4mg/dL. (3)
A major health risk associated with Type 2 Diabetics is the increased risk for health conditions like hypertension and cardiovascular disease, which is also a significant factor responsible for their shortened lifespan. Multiple studies have shown that intermittent may lead to a reduction in cardiovascular diseases seen in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus patients. One such study included a total of 4970 overweight individuals who were diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 and followed up for a period of 12 years. The results showed that the weight loss that these individuals underwent lead them to have a 25% reduction in total mortality, while a reduction of 28% was also seen in cardiovascular diseases. On the other hand, individuals who did not undergo any weight loss remained at high risk for morbidity and mortality. (6)
Whether it is weight loss, reduction of blood glucose levels, prevention of Insulin resistance in the body, or prolonging the lifespan of an individual with Diabetes Mellitus Type 2, Intermittent Fasting remains a popular intervention recommended by numerous experts.
When starting Intermittent Fasting, you should always start with a more mild-moderate form so that the body gets used to the caloric restriction that comes with it over time, and it does not affect you negatively.
Furthermore, obesity is an independent risk factor for hypertension and dyslipidemia, as well as CVD, which is the major cause of death in patients with T2DM, and weight loss is considered key to the management of T2DM. Food experts recommend starting by skipping the late-night eating and snacking habits and extend this to daytime eating gradually. You may then initially start with fasting for a few hours and then gradually extend these hours. Along with monitoring your own progress and how your body is responding to these changes, you may want to seek the support of a naturopathic or functional medicine practitioner. If you are looking for specific advice or to see the support of myself or my team, feel free to reach out to my clinic 519-400-4520 (call or text) or [email protected]
Yours in health
- Anton SD, Moehl K, Donahoo WT, Marosi K, Lee SA, Mainous AG 3rd, Leeuwenburgh C, Mattson MP. Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying the Health Benefits of Fasting. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2018 Feb;26(2):254-268. doi: 10.1002/oby.22065. Epub 2017 Oct 31. PMID: 29086496; PMCID: PMC5783752.
- Zubrzycki A, Cierpka-Kmiec K, Kmiec Z, Wronska A. The role of low-calorie diets and intermittent fasting in the treatment of obesity and type-2 diabetes. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2018 Oct;69(5). doi: 10.26402/jpp.2018.5.02. Epub 2019 Jan 21. PMID: 30683819.
- Cho Y, Hong N, Kim KW, Cho SJ, Lee M, Lee YH, Lee YH, Kang ES, Cha BS, Lee BW. The Effectiveness of Intermittent Fasting to Reduce Body Mass Index and Glucose Metabolism: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Clin Med. 2019 Oct 9;8(10):1645. doi: 10.3390/jcm8101645. PMID: 31601019; PMCID: PMC6832593.
- American Diabetes Association. Standards of medical care in diabetes–2013. Diabetes Care. 2013 Jan;36 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S11-66. doi: 10.2337/dc13-S011. PMID: 23264422; PMCID: PMC3537269.
- Goldstein DJ. Beneficial health effects of modest weight loss. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1992 Jun;16(6):397-415. PMID: 1322866.
- Williamson DF, Thompson TJ, Thun M, Flanders D, Pamuk E, Byers T. Intentional weight loss and mortality among overweight individuals with diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2000 Oct;23(10):1499-504. doi: 10.2337/diacare.23.10.1499. PMID: 11023143.