Could the 5:2 Diet Do a Number on Diabetes?

It’s no secret that diabetes is a growing problem in the United States; as of 2015, over 30 million Americans had either type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Many adults develop diabetes due to years of poor dietary decisions. Consequently, researchers have spent much time and resources examining the impact of diet on diabetes symptoms, including relatively new diet plans.

Diet, Weight and Blood Sugar

One dietary fad that has gained media attention in recent years is known as the 5:2 diet. In short, this diet calls for its adherents to eat normally for five days a week, while fasting for the remaining two days. The 5:2 diet came to the attention of researchers at the University of South Australia (UniSA), who sought to determine its usefulness in controlling diabetes.

For their report, the authors recruited 137 adults, all of whom had previously been diagnosed with diabetes. These participants were divided into two groups; one consumed 1,200 to 1,500 calories on a daily basis, while the other was required to follow the 5:2 diet. Those in the latter group were limited to 500-600 calories on their two “fasting” days.

At the conclusion of the study, the authors found that those in the 5:2 group not only lost weight, but also exhibited lower levels of hemoglobin A1c, indicating that their glucose levels had likewise declined. In July 2018, the online version of the Journal of the American Medical Association published the UniSA team’s research.

A New Approach

Dr. Peter Clifton, a professor of nutrition at UniSA, stated in a university press release that diabetes “is the 21st century’s health epidemic and the biggest challenge confronting Australia’s health system. Conventional weight-loss diets with daily energy restrictions are difficult for people to adhere to so we must look for alternative solutions.”

The authors did issue a word of caution regarding their work; they note that while fasting is safe for those with diet-controlled type 2 diabetes, diabetics who use insulin and other oral medications must exercise proper caution. If such individuals fail to properly alter their medications and monitor their blood sugar levels, they could fall victim to hypoglycaemia.

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