Want Healthier Blood Sugar Balance? This Might Be Your Most Powerful Tool

Image: Reece McMillan

Diabetes and pre-diabetes are some of the most pressing health issues facing the world today. They are dangerous, progressive diseases that are extremely expensive to treat. They are also intricately related to diet and lifestyle factors, like the consumption of added sugars and lack of regular exercise. In other words: We're hard-pressed to find effective treatments for diabetes that are more effective and less expensive than the ones we're currently working with.

That's why a new paper, published in the journal BMJ Case Reports, that details how three patients reverse-treated their diabetes—eliminating the need to use insulin altogether—using an intermittent fasting program is turning a lot of heads. The authors, who are doctors, were inspired to write the paper after these three patients experienced so much success.

There are a lot of different approaches to intermittent fasting, ranging from alternate-day fasting to 16:8 fasting to a simple 12-hour fast. So what did the patients exact plan look like? Two of the men fasted for 24 hours one day a week, and the third man fasted for three days a week. They were allowed to drink black coffee, tea, broth, and eat one very low-calorie meal. The participants kept up with this program for 10 months, when the doctors remeasured their fasting blood glucose, average blood glucose (HbA1c), weight, and waist circumference—which are all measures of health and the severity of diabetes.

What did the results show? Incredibly, in less than a month all men completely removed their need to inject themselves with insulin. In fact, for one of the men, it took only five days for his blood sugar regulation to get to a place where he no longer needed injected insulin. All of the men lost significant weight, and two of them managed to come off all their medications (the fourth was still on one medication by the end of the study period but had reduced his number of drugs from four to one).

The authors concluded, "This present case series showed that 24-hour fasting regimens can significantly reverse or eliminate the need for diabetic medication." Here's to hoping that the results of this small three-person case study leads to larger studies. One of the big bonuses of intermittent fasting? It's free. And this is significant, considering diabetes costs the U.S. economy $245 billion a year.

If you have diabetes or any other health condition, always talk to your doctor about fasting before you try it out. In the meantime, here's a beginner's guide to all things intermittent fasting.

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