An Intermittent-fasting Diet May Lower Type-2 Diabetes Risk
Akshay Naik 14 April 2023
A diet that focuses on fasting and eating early in the day could be the key to reducing the risk of developing type-2 diabetes, a new study from the University of Adelaide and South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) has found. 
For the study, researchers compared two different diets - a time-restricted, intermittent-fasting diet and a reduced-calorie diet—to see which one was more beneficial for people who were prone to developing type-2 diabetes. They recruited more than 200 participants from South Australia for an 18-month study and the results have been published in the scientific journal Nature Medicine.
Type-2 diabetes is a lifelong progressive disease characterised by insulin resistance and high blood sugar. It occurs when the body’s cells do not respond effectively to insulin and the body loses its ability to produce the hormone which is responsible for controlling glucose in blood. Various studies have shown that nearly 60% of type-2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented with changes to diet and lifestyle. While the disease does not have a cure, there are preventive measures that can be taken. 
The results of the study indicate that participants on both, the time-restricted, intermittent-fasting diet and the low-calorie diet, experienced similar amounts of weight loss. But those who followed the intermittent-fasting diet showed a lower chance of developing type-2 diabetes.
Prof Leonie Heilbronn, senior author of the study from the University of Adelaide’s Medical School, said, “People who fasted for three days during the week, only eating between 8am and 12pm on those days, showed a greater tolerance to glucose after 6 months than those on a daily, low-calorie diet. Participants who followed the intermittent fasting diet were more sensitive to insulin and also experienced a greater reduction in blood lipids than those on the low-calorie diet.”
Commenting on the findings, lead author of the study Xiao Tong Teong, a PhD student at the University of Adelaide, said, “This is the largest study in the world to date and the first powered to assess how the body processes and uses glucose after eating a meal, which is a better indicator of diabetes risk than a fasting test. The results of this study add to the growing body of evidence to indicate that meal timing and fasting advice extends the health benefits of a restricted calorie diet, independently from weight loss, and this may be influential in clinical practice.”
Readers should be cautioned, however, that further research is needed to investigate if the same benefits are experienced with a slightly longer eating window which could make the diet more sustainable in the long term.
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