New research finds a novel approach to manage diabetes through planned intermittent fasting schedule (eating limited to some times of the day or week). The study published in the journal BMJ Case Reports shows the use of 24-hour fasting regimens can significantly lessen or eliminate the need for diabetic medicines.

Doctors from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine and Scarborough Hospital in Canada helped three middle-aged men (between 40 and 67) with type 2 diabetes lose weight, get off their insulin, and reduce or get off their oral medication.

Though the study results on intermittent fasting and reversal of diabetes are encouraging, Dr Prakash S Pania, Consultant Endocrinologist, Aster Clinic – Bur Dubai says the research monitored only three patients in the short-term study. He believes the results cannot be achievable and sustainable in the long term. ‘It is not possible to maintain 825-850 kcals diet every other day or 3 days a week for the rest of one’s lives.

‘Furthermore, losing 5 per cent of body weight can be challenging for many patients.’ Also, the doctor says, ‘Maintaining 30 minutes of high-intensity exercise for five days a week, may not be sustainable by all on a permanent basis.’

The above results may be achievable in patients with a shorter duration of diabetes, and who are significantly obese, he adds. ‘I deal with many patients from South East

Asian regions, particularly Indians and Pakistanis, who are only mildly overweight or with normal BMI. These patients have a greater proportion of insulin deficiency than insulin resistance and do not need to shed 15kg to achieve the desired remission.’

He says without appropriate counselling, intermittent fasting may be extremely hazardous to people with diabetes of long-standing duration. ‘It could cause severe episodes of hypoglycemia and ketosis. It could also aggravate certain complications of diabetes such as diabetic nephropathy. The fasting patients in the trial were supervised, received cognitive behaviour therapy and were motivated for daily exercise. This may not be possible in real life and willpower may soon wane off, he adds.