You’ve probably seen people talking about fasting everywhere, but I have to admit, there’s a lot of conflicting info out there. As with a lot of things, the truth is somewhere in the middle: fasting isn’t a cure-all, but it does have some truly remarkable possibilities.
What if I told you that fasting may just be a way to stop diabetes from ever happening and even reverse it in some people? You may be thinking, “Hey, no way that’s true,” but I’m here to tell you that it is, and I’ve brought the research to prove it!
Although fasting can be a challenge and may sound daunting at first, this time-tested practice helps the body remove harmful substances and may just be the key to winning the fight against diabetes.
Improving insulin sensitivity with fasting
Many studies have found that fasting might boost sensitivity to insulin, support weight management when combined with exercise, and even possibly reverse diabetes. One such study was recently presented at the annual Digestive Disease Week professional conference (https://ddw.org/attendee-planning/online-planner).
Based on the fasting practices for prayer that Muslims follow during Ramadan, this study followed 14 people in good health who regularly fasted for 15 hours per day (from dawn to dusk) over a 30-day period. Blood samples were taken from the participants before they began the religious fast and at the end of the final week of fasting, and an additional blood sample was taken one week after their fasts ended.
The researchers found that the 30-day fast had raised the participants’ levels of tropomyosin (TPM) proteins, which boost insulin resistance and lessen the negative effects of a high-sugar diet. Increased levels of TPM 1, 3 and 4 were present in the participants’ blood samples. TPM 3 in particular plays a central role in boosting insulin sensitivity, which results in better control over blood glucose levels.
The research team was led by Dr. Ayse Leyla Mindikoglu, a professor at Houston’s Baylor College, who added that feeding and fasting can have a significant effect on how the body creates and uses the proteins needed for lowering insulin resistance and maintaining a healthy weight.
Fasting might promote the growth of pancreatic beta cells
Established research scientist James DiNicolantonio explored the outcomes of several studies in the Open Heart medical journal (https://openheart.bmj.com/content/openhrt/6/1/e001028.full.pdf?ct), all of which found that repeated fasting episodes may trigger the growth of pancreatic beta cells in mouse-model experiments. The growth comes from an increased expression of a protein that is part of the process that leads to the pancreatic beta cells responsible for producing insulin.
In the animal studies, the boost in these cells also came with an improvement in blood sugar control. In Type 1 diabetes, these beta cells are nearly destroyed, something that also happens in the latter stages of severe Type 2 diabetes. Therefore, it’s possible this could lead to a way to reverse Type 2 diabetes, according to DiNicolantonio. The research scientist recommends practicing a diabetes-preventive lifestyle, with intermittent fasting a good option for those who don’t respond.
Avoiding breakfast before exercising might boost weight management efforts
Do you ever get flak from family members for skipping breakfast? If so, listen up. A recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition examined the effects of a person skipping breakfast before working out in the morning (https://academic.oup.com/jn/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/jn/nxz018/5440571?redirectedFrom=fulltext). In this study, 12 fit and active young men ate a breakfast of milk and oats followed by resting during one stage, ate the same breakfast and worked out for 60 minutes in the next stage, and then fasted overnight and worked out the next morning before they ate in the third stage.
The researchers in this study found that the men who fasted before exercise ate 400 fewer calories throughout the day when compared to those who ate and rested or ate and exercised. Javier Gonzalez of the University of Bath, who led the study, theorized that working out on an empty stomach may lead to a calorie deficit and not overeating. Since obesity is often a factor in diabetes, effective weight management is part of the program for preventing it.
It’s time to take control of your health and start living life the way you were meant to. While a lot of people all over the world have diabetes, you don’t have to develop it! Start acting now to get back to your best self, with fasting as a key to open that locked door.