Intermittent fasting can prevent diabetes

Diabetes is a dangerous disease that can damage your blood vessels, steal your vision, and raise your risk of kidney disease, heart attack, and stroke. What makes it especially scary is that it can sneak up on you.

You may feel perfectly fine but in the background, your blood sugar is slowly rising, ruining your health and risking your life.

Luckily though, there is something you can do to prevent diabetes before it starts or to gain control over your blood sugar even if you’ve already been diagnosed…

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The fast facts on fasting

There has been a lot of interest in meal timing lately — either intermittent fasting where you take a day off from eating here and there, or even simply eat during a shorter window — and with good reason.

Studies have shown that following this type of eating plan can help you:

  • Lower your cholesterol
  • Lose weight
  • Reduce inflammatory markers that can lead to chronic disease
  • Protect against fatty liver disease, a risk factor for diabetes

It’s also known for improving the sensitivity of the blood sugar-lowering hormone, insulin. This is an important benefit because when your body is functioning normally, insulin is able to signal your cells to pull excess sugar from your blood.

But, in diabetes, your cells lose sensitivity and stop responding to the insulin signals so your blood sugar remains high and your risk of damage increases.

Now, a new study by the German Institute of Human Nutrition has found that intermittent fasting gives you one more important benefit in fighting off type 2 diabetes…

Pancreatic fat and function

The study, published in the journal Metabolism, found that on top of increasing insulin sensitivity to improve blood sugar uptake, intermittent fasting also decreases your levels of pancreatic fat.

Why is pancreatic fat important?

Well, those German scientists discovered that overweight mice prone to diabetes also had a high accumulation of fat cells in the pancreas while mice resistant to the disease, even if overweight, had hardly any fat in the pancreas.

“Fat accumulations outside the fat tissue, e.g. in the liver, muscles or even bones, have a negative effect on these organs and the entire body,” said Professor Annette Schürmann, head of the Department of Experimental Diabetology and speaker of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD).

In other words, too much fat in an organ like the pancreas that should be lean damages its function. According to the researchers, when your pancreas has too many fat cells, it depletes the insulin-secreting cells in the organ too quickly until they cease functioning completely.

And, since your pancreas is the main organ that regulates your blood sugar levels, it’s easy to see how too much pancreatic fat can lead to diabetes.

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Intermittent fasting reduces pancreatic fat

The good news is that when that team of German scientists instituted an intermittent fasting regiment for another group of mice, they developed almost zero fat deposits in their pancreas.

On the other hand, the mice that were allowed to eat whenever or whatever they wanted ended up with fatty pancreases.

“Under certain genetic conditions, the accumulation of fat in the pancreas may play a decisive role in the development of type 2 diabetes,” said Professor Tim J. Schulz, head of the Department of Adipocyte Development and Nutrition.

This makes intermittent fasting a promising approach to controlling both the development and progression of diabetes — without drugs.

Find an intermittent fasting option that suits you

To easily integrate intermittent fasting into your life to better manage your blood sugar, you simply limit your eating window. Your fasting time can last anywhere between 16 and 24 hours.

For example, you could decide to take one day off of eating each week or take in a maximum of 600 calories two days a week. On the other hand, you could go with the 16:8 method and limit your eating window to eight hours each day, such as between 11 am and 7 pm. The easiest way to do this is to eliminate one meal a day, usually, breakfast.

You’re also allowed water, unsweetened tea and black coffee around the clock.

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  1. Complications — American Diabetes Association
  2. Rescheduling your dinner for 2 pm? Intermittent fasting may lower appetite and improve fat burning — Good Morning America
  3. Promising approach: Prevent diabetes with intermittent fasting — German Center for Diabetes Research
  4. Understanding Insulin Sensitivity and Diabetes — National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.