Intermittent fasting has become quite a trend recently.
Now, new research from Europe finds that fasting every-other-day can substantially reduce the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes in mice models.
The findings from the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke suggest that periodic fasting can reduce fat accumulation in the pancreas and, in turn, prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
“We observed that pancreatic fat cells directly affect islet insulin secretion and that this can be altered by eating patterns,” says Dr. Mandy Stadion, a post-doctoral research fellow who led the study.
“It is well known that a fatty liver promotes the development of Type 2 diabetes and that intermittent fasting improves insulin sensitivity by reducing liver fat in mice and men,” explains Professor Annette Schürmann, head of the Department Experimental Diabetology at the German Institute of Human Nutrition and senior author of the study.
“However, little is known about the formation of fat cells in the pancreas during obesity, their detailed impact on islet-cell function and whether intermittent fasting can prevent a fatty pancreas.”
How was the Study Conducted?
For the studies, the researchers provided one group of diabetes-prone mice with unlimited access to a high-fat diet.
These mice were subjected to food restriction every other day (intermittent fasting). Compared to the control condition, intermittent fasting resulted in remarkably reduced pancreatic fat – similar to levels of diabetes-resistant mice – as well as in lower blood sugar levels and improved islet-cell function.
“We believe that the elevated insulin secretion of pancreatic islet cells, particularly from diabetes-prone mice, initiates a more rapid loss of function and finally islet cell-death,” explains Schürmann.
While this loss of function ultimately contributes to the development of Type 2 diabetes, the researchers are optimistic the finding that intermittent fasting can prevent the fat accumulation that leads to increased insulin may reveal a new path forward in the therapeutic prevention and treatment of diabetes.
Stadion and Schürmann tell dLife they think that intermittent fasting is a promising option to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose homeostasis in Type 2 diabetes patients.
However, they caution they should do this only after consulting their physician.
As far as next steps, the researchers say a randomized controlled human study has to be performed.
They would detect liver and pancreatic fat content by magnetic resonance techniques in order to evaluate whether, and to which extent, intermittent fasting lowers the degree of fatty liver and fatty pancreas.
The research was presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior in Utrecht, Netherlands.
- Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior. (2019, July 9). Intermittent fasting protects mice from type 2 diabetes. EurekAlert! Retrieved July 18, 2019, from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-07/sfts-ifp070519.php