Losing a single gram of fat could be enough to reverse type 2 diabetes – as long as that fat comes from the pancreas, according to researchers in the UK (1).
Type 2 diabetes is a long-term condition caused by too much sugar in the diet. It often occurs in overweight and inactive individuals, but can caused by a multitude of factors. Currently, the disease affects roughly 9 percent of the global population (3).
The bodies of diabetics are either unable to produce enough insulin to keep up with their blood sugar levels or their body’s cells no longer recognize and utilize the insulin created.
Losing Weight Changes Everything
Weight loss has always been an important part of treating and reversing diabetes. This study discovered that losing weight is important because high fat levels in the pancreas (the organ which produces insulin) influences the onset of diabetes.
In fact, previous work conducted by these researchers demonstrated that going on a very low calorie diet can remove the fat which is clogging up the pancreas, thus allowing normal insulin secretion to be restored (2).
“What is interesting is that regardless of your present body weight and how you lose weight, the critical factor in reversing your Type 2 diabetes is losing that 1 gram of fat from the pancreas,” said Taylor, the lead researcher of the study.
The study followed 18 obese participants with type 2 diabetes, as well as non-diabetic control group, both before and after gastric bypass surgery.
Using a modern and sensitive MRI scan, the researchers revealed that the diabetics had abnormally high levels of fat built up in their pancreas, even when compared to other obese people without type 2 diabetes.
In the non-diabetics participants, who had never had elevated fat levels in their pancreas in the first place, the amount of fat in the organ stayed the same after surgery. But the participants with type-2 diabetes lost on average 1.2 percent fat from the organ, which took them back down to healthy levels.
Following the surgery the diabetics were able to come off their medication, and, incredibly, their insulin secretion levels returned to normal, meaning that their diabetes had been successfully reversed. via ScienceAlert
“This comes across as a simple explanation for type 2 diabetes and for patients it will be a strong motivating factor in losing weight” said Taylor.
“But it also presents a very clear target for future research. If you can block the uptake of fat by the pancreas, you can reverse the disease.” (5)