Morning Rounds: Can intermittent fasting reverse diabetes?

NORFOLK, Va. - According to a recent study in The BMJ, a medical journal, three men were able to reverse Type 2 diabetes with intermittent fasting.

CNN reports of the new case study, "the three patients also lost weight, and their HbA1Cs, a measure of blood sugar levels, improved."

News 3 medical expert Dr. Ryan Light said intermittent fasting can help manage or reverse diabetes, but patients should seek approval from their doctors before trying it.

"Intermittent fasting is a safe weight loss strategy," said Dr. Light. "Weight loss is integral in treatment for many chronic conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Weight reduction will reverse the effects of diabetes in a majority of cases."

He continued, "However, with diabetes, there is an increased risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) which can be deadly. Consult your primary care provider prior to starting an intermittent fasting diet. Intermittent fasting should not replace a well-balanced diet eaten on a regular schedule, which carries the best outcomes for long term health."

CNN reports that the patients in the study "followed 24-hour fasts several times a week. They ate only dinner on fasting days but could drink water, coffee and broth throughout."

Dr. Light said both intermittent fasting and calorie reduction are effective.

"Results are similar in weight loss and loss of body fat, "he said of intermittent fasting versus dieting.  "Diets are good for weight loss, but [diets] should not replace a sound nutrition consisting of fresh vegetables, dairy, whole grains, lean proteins, and good fats."