How Intermittent Fasting Can Help Reverse Diabetes
The “Fast Cure” for Diabetes
Though we may not like to admit it, type 2 diabetes is a disease chiefly brought on by our lifestyle choices. Yes, genetics come into play too, but when it comes to type 2 diabetes, you are not a slave to your gene pool. You have the power to even alter your genes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, type 2 diabetes is increasing worldwide at an alarming rate due to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. So, let’s say that you (or someone you know) became overweight, were less and less active, and finally one day at a routine doctor visit, your doctor announced that you have type 2 diabetes and put you on medication to lower your blood sugar.
Perhaps you’ve been taking diabetes meds for years now and the idea of reversing your diabetes seems far-fetched, even fanciful. Maybe your doctor doesn’t believe that type 2 diabetes is reversible. That has been the traditional medical thought greatly influenced by the pharmaceutical companies who want to push their expensive drugs.
But a new day has dawned and many doctors are seeing their patients reverse their type 2 diabetes. One effective way people reverse their type 2 diabetes is by intermittent fasting. Dr. Jason Fung, MD, writes, “While many consider type 2 diabetes (T2D) irreversible, fasting has been long known to cure diabetes.” Wow, “cure” is a strong word coupled with diabetes and spoken by a medical doctor!
Harvard University is home to the famous Joslin Center for Diabetes. The center is named after Dr. Elliot Joslin, one of the greatest specialists in diabetes of all time. In 1916, Dr. Joslin wrote an article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal about fasting for the treatment of diabetes. Based on his experience, he was convinced that all in the medical field would acknowledge the benefits of fasting for the treatment of diabetes. I’ll let you speculate as to why this simple treatment has only recently been “rediscovered.”
Perhaps you already read our other article on intermittent fasting (IF) in this month’s issue of Home Cures That Work. There you saw that IF is not a starvation diet. In fact, IF is not really a diet at all. In the true sense of the word, “diet” refers to a plan that restricts what you eat. By contrast, with intermittent fasting you choose when, not what, to eat.
There are many ways to practice intermittent fasting. Here are just a few:
- The 16:8 plan has you fasting for 16 hours each day and eating only during an 8-hour window of your choice. Tip: incorporate the hours you sleep as part of the 16-hour fast.
- The 5:2 plan describes a 24-hour fast. Eat supper on day one, then fast until supper the following day. You do this twice (or once) a week.
- The 36-hour plan is a 36-hour fast in which you simply refrain from eating one whole day. You could follow this plan once a week or less frequently. (E.g., you eat supper on day one, on day two you don’t eat at all, and on day three you eat again.)
And there are many other variations of IF that people use based on their personal schedules, physical and psychological makeup. But it’s important to note that when you fast intermittently, you’re refraining from eating any food during the period that you choose. This includes sugar, sweeteners and creamers in coffee or other beverages.
What about breakfast? Isn’t breakfast the “most important meal of the day”? And yet some of these IF plans has you skipping breakfast. Dr. Mark Mattson, MD, debunks that myth as well as the myth that we should be eating four or five smaller meals a day.
Stay hydrated when you fast!
What you DO WANT to DO when you fast is continue to drink plenty of water. This will keep you hydrated, can help eliminate toxins from your body and also helps minimize or eliminate hunger pangs.
Obviously, when you come off a fast, you don’t want to gorge yourself “to make up for lost time”!
There are many other benefits to intermittent fasting that our other article covers, but here we want to focus on diabetes. If you’re still skeptical, check out the following case study monitored by Dr. Jason Fung:
Consider this real life example. A lady in her mid 60’s was injecting 120 units of insulin daily along with 2 grams/day of metformin (a type of medication used for T2D). She had T2D for 27 years and had been progressively using higher and higher doses of insulin in an effort to control her blood sugars. However, things were getting worse.
In desperation, she was referred to the Intensive Dietary Management Program. We started her on a regimen that included fasting under strict medical supervision. We started with a full week of fasting and immediately reduced her medications. When she was feeling well, she continued for a second week, then a third. By that time she was off her insulin. We then switched to a LCHF diet along with alternate daily fasting. It’s been over a year now, and she continues to be off all insulin and medications with a HbA1C of 5.9%. Technically, she is no longer diabetic (defined by an A1C of less than 6%).
She feels terrific – with more energy now than she has had for over a decade. Her husband was so impressed that he also started our program and has recently come off all his insulin, too. 
6 Ways Intermittent Fasting Helps Reverse Type 2 Diabetes
- Lowers blood sugar – Every time you eat, your blood sugar rises. That’s simple science. So, when you’re not eating your blood sugar is lower. The magic of intermittent fasting is that you’re fasting at least 12 to 16 hours. This enables your body to use up the glucose in your system.
- Increases insulin receptivity – Because your cells are no longer overloaded with sugar, insulin can do its job and move the sugar out of your blood.
- Decreases insulin levels – Due to the fact that cells are now receptive to insulin, your pancreas produces less insulin.
- Regenerates your pancreas – The pancreas is where insulin is produced. When a person has type 2 diabetes, the pancreas has to work overtime to produce insulin sufficient to deal with the overload of sugar in the blood. Researchers have discovered that intermittent fasting effectively reboots the pancreas, regenerating beta cells.
- Helps you lose weight – Often, simply losing weight can reverse type 2 diabetes. Intermittent fasting has been shown to help people lose between 3 and 8% of body weight in three to 24 weeks.
- Increases your metabolic rate – This translates into more calories burned, helping facilitate some of the above benefits of intermittent fasting.
Getting Started with Intermittent Fasting
If you are on medication to lower your blood sugar, please consult your doctor before fasting. Warning: some doctors may pushback, so tell them this is something you want to try, but you want to do it safely. No doubt they will want you to closely monitor your blood sugar while you fast to ensure that your blood sugar does not drop too low.
Also, if you’re taking medication for diabetes, you’ll want to be under medical supervision anyway so your doctor can reduce your medication as your blood sugar levels fall.
Finally, as we pointed out in the other article, you already fast daily when you sleep. So extending that period for a few hours is not such a big deal. Decide on an intermittent fasting plan that will work for you and experiment with it for a month. If you’re not getting the results you want, change your plan until you do. Intermittent fasting may be the key to beating diabetes!