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Researchers Find How Losing Weight Might Reverse Diabetes Type 2

By jeremyc | August 2, 2018

Type 2 diabetes affects hundreds of million people worldwide. In this condition, the pancreas fails to make insulin in adequate amounts. Insulin, in turn, is responsible for regulating the levels of sugar in the blood. Till recently, type 2 diabetes was understood to be incurable. However, a recent trial hinted that weight loss can reverse diabetes. Researchers might now have unraveled the mystery behind this.

In this clinical trial, in which some type 2 diabetes patients were given standard diabetes care while some others were provided with standard care and, in addition to that, asked to follow an intensive weight loss program. The results, which were published last year, showed that nearly 50 percent of people who underwent weight-loss program experienced diabetes remission.

This finding challenged the conventional belief that once you’ve diabetes, nothing can be done about it and the whole focus from then onward should be on managing it as best as possible.

This clinical trial suggested that type 2 diabetes might be reversible, that too using a tool that’s available to every diabetic patient—lifestyle choices and healthy diet.

However, at that time, the researchers couldn’t answer the two questions that were on everyone’s mind: How losing weight triggered diabetes remission and why only some people benefited from it?

To unravel the mystery, the researchers dived into recordings and findings of the clinical trial. And they now have come up with some surprising results.

The researchers that people who experienced diabetes remission because of loss of weight demonstrated an early, consistent improvement in beta cells functioning. These beta cells, located in pancreas, are the ones that regulate insulin.

The earlier widely-held belief was that beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed in diabetes type 2, an occurrence which facilitates the further development of this condition.

However, this trial showed that might not be the case.

While answering the second main question, why only some people benefited, the researchers said that those who experienced a more sudden loss of function of pancreatic beta cells might not benefit from weight loss.

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