Intermittent fasting safely helps Type 2 diabetes patients lose weight, control blood sugar

CHICAGO — Intermittent fasting can serve as a safe way of helping people with Type 2 diabetes shed extra weight and manage their blood sugar levels, a new study confirms.

Study authors from the University of Illinois Chicago discovered that individuals with Type 2 diabetes who confined their eating to an eight-hour window daily shed more weight over a period of six months than those who cut their caloric intake by 25 percent. Additionally, both groups experienced comparable reductions in long-term blood sugar levels, according to the findings published in JAMA Network Open.

“Our study shows that time-restricted eating might be an effective alternative to traditional dieting for people who can’t do the traditional diet or are burned out on it,” says senior author Krista Varady, a professor of kinesiology and nutrition, in a media release. “For many people trying to lose weight, counting time is easier than counting calories.”

The study involved 75 participants, dividing them into three groups: those adhering to the time-restricted eating guidelines, those who reduced their caloric intake, and a control group. Over the course of six months, measurements were taken of the participants’ weight, waist circumference, blood sugar levels, and other health indicators.

Participants in the time-restricted eating group reported finding the regimen easier to stick to than those in the calorie-reduction group. The researchers attribute this to the fact that individuals with diabetes are frequently advised by their doctors to reduce their caloric intake as an initial strategy. Consequently, many participants in the study may have previously attempted — and found challenging — that approach to dieting.

Notably, even though the time-restricted eating group was not explicitly instructed to decrease their caloric intake, they naturally did so by eating within a predetermined timeframe.

Type 2 diabetes can develop in anyone but is more common in individuals over the age of 25, particularly those with a family history of the condition. With the anticipated increase in the number of cases, the research team emphasizes the importance of identifying additional options for managing weight and blood sugar levels.

Why is Type 2 Diabetes so dangerous for your health?

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. When you have Type 2 diabetes, your body’s cells become resistant to insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. As a result, glucose (sugar) builds up in your blood.

Over time, high blood sugar can damage your nerves, blood vessels, and organs. This can lead to a number of serious health complications, including:

  • Heart disease and stroke: Type 2 diabetes is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke. People with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have a heart attack as people without diabetes.
  • Kidney disease: Type 2 diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure. High blood sugar can damage the tiny blood vessels in the kidneys, making it difficult for them to filter waste from the blood.
  • Eye problems: Type 2 diabetes can lead to a number of eye problems, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts. Diabetic retinopathy is a common cause of blindness in adults.
  • Neuropathy: Type 2 diabetes can damage the nerves in your body, leading to numbness, pain, and tingling in your hands and feet. Neuropathy can also lead to foot problems, such as ulcers and infections.

In addition to these serious health complications, Type 2 diabetes can also make it difficult to control other chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

South West News Service writer Ellie McDonald contributed to this report.

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