The idea that the progress of diabetes is irreversible is now being challenged by a finding that could lead to a promising long-term cure for diabetes. The finding was made in 2011 by Malaysian endocrinologist, Dr. Lim Ee Lin, while pursuing her postgraduate doctoral degree under the guidance of Professor Roy Taylor at the Newcastle University Medical School, United Kingdom.
She discovered that dietary energy restriction alone was sufficient to reverse diabetes, specifically Type II Diabetes. The study was carried out with 11 participants who had Type II Diabetes for less than four years. As part of the study, they had to consume a specially made liquid diet formula which had a specific fixed carbohydrate, protein and fat ratio. This was supplemented with non-starchy vegetables such that their total energy intake was 600 kcal per day. The participants had to undergo this special diet for eight weeks and measurements were taken on the first, fourth and eight week. Based on the results collected, it suggested that the defects that underlie Type II Diabetes were reversed due to the participants’ adherence to the diet.
It has been long held that the progress of diabetes is irreversible and ultimately leads the sufferers to depend on daily routine insulin injections to ensure blood sugar levels are within normal range. When left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious complications such as blindness and nerve damage. Such handicapping complications and the large number of sufferers are among the many reasons scientific researchers are incessant in their efforts to find a cure.
While it is tempting to quickly devise a clinical treatment for diabetes based on this study, the limitations of the study such as the small number of participants prevent such step from being taken. More extensive studies have to be conducted before dietary energy restriction can be made part of routine treatment of Type II Diabetes. The current finding opens up the possibility that diabetes could be a reversible disease and a cure for diabetes could be within the grasp of many sufferers in the future.
Editor’s note: Although this news is from a research study in 2011, we attempt to highlight important discoveries and accomplishments by Malaysian scientists. If you have similar news stories worth highlighting, please contact us.
- Malaysian researcher finds diet can reverse Type 2 diabetes – Newcastle University Press Office
- Type 2 diabetes in newly diagnosed ‘can be reversed‘ – BBC News
- Reversal of type 2 diabetes: normalisation of beta cell function in association with decreased pancreas and liver triacylglycerol. Diabetologia, 54, 2506-14.
- Facts and figures on diabetes – WHO
- Photo of insulin pen by Heather Aitken (Flickr/CC)