Study: Intermittent fasting is key to addressing diabetes pandemic
02/27/2023 // Zoey Sky // Views

Health authorities have been warning since 2017 that Type 2 diabetes has achieved pandemic status.

Diabetes has spread from affluent industrialized nations to emerging economies such as Africa, Asia and Latin America. Experts have also warned that worldwide cases of the disease can reach 642 million by 2045.

Fortunately, one study has found that intermittent fasting may be key to addressing the diabetes pandemic.

Researchers have discovered that intermittent fasting led to complete remission for more than half of the study volunteers.

Details of the promising study were published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Benefits of intermittent fasting for people with diabetes

Intermittent fasting, also called time-restricted eating or Chinese Medical Nutrition Therapy (CMNT), involves consuming calories only during a specific "window" of time, usually eight to 10 hours.

In the small study, researchers found that volunteers with Type 2 diabetes who followed an intermittent fasting routine for three months saw "dramatic improvements in their condition."

The scientists reported that 90 percent of the 36 patients were able to reduce their prescribed treatments, including insulin and blood sugar-lowering medications. (Related: Intermittent fasting helps reduce inflammation, scientists find.)

Additionally, 55 percent of the study volunteers experienced total remission. They remained free of Type 2 diabetes for at least one year after discontinuing their medications.

For the study, remission is defined as HbA1c levels under 6.5. HbA1c is a measure of blood sugar control over time.


Dongbo Liu, the study's lead author, is hopeful that the results can help benefit more than 537 million adults worldwide who have Type 2 diabetes.

"Type 2 diabetes is not necessarily a permanent, lifelong disease," explained Liu.

But how did intermittent fasting benefit the study participants?

According to the researchers, the method's success is linked to the body’s circadian rhythms or sleep-wake cycle.

They concluded that following a consistent daily short window of feeding can promote health by helping to align the circadian rhythms of multiple organs. In turn, this helps the body coordinate different processes and aids in the management of diseases.

They also warned against chronic circadian rhythm disruption, similar to what shift workers go through, because it compromises the immune system and increases the risk for chronic metabolic diseases by triggering adverse effects such as fatty liver disease, glucose intolerance and weight gain.

Intermittent fasting helps protect against heart disease and obesity

The new study supports earlier research that emphasized the benefits of intermittent fasting.

Research has found that the diet helped reduce body weight even though study participants aren’t normally advised to consciously reduce their caloric intake.

Recent human studies have produced promising results on time-restricted eating and its ability to reduce the risk of health issues such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Experts think intermittent fasting can also help:

  • Minimize inflammation
  • Improve glucose sensitivity
  • Reduce high blood pressure
  • Cut and decrease unhealthy cholesterol levels

In a different animal study published in the journal Cell Metabolism, scientists reported that time-restricted eating changes gene expression and may offer benefits for managing diseases.

Based on the results, almost 40 percent of the genes in the animals' adrenal glands, hypothalamus and pancreas were affected. This is important because these organs are crucial for hormonal regulation.

Consistent overnight fasting is key to improving overall health

Intermittent fasting is based on the theory that maintaining a consistent, long overnight fast can significantly help reduce the risk of chronic disease.

While individual recommendations vary, the eating window, which is normally between eight and twelve hours long, shouldn't begin until at least one hour has passed after waking. The eating window should then end at least three hours before the onset of an eight-hour sleep cycle.

The study authors advised that consistency is key when practicing intermittent fasting. This means if you start the diet, you should try to maintain the same schedule on both workdays and weekends.

If you haven't tried intermittent fasting yet, check with your physician if it is safe for your condition before starting. If you are taking prescribed medications for diabetes, do not stop taking them unless your doctor explicitly recommends it.

Things to consider before trying intermittent fasting for diabetes management

While the study suggests that intermittent fasting offers impressive benefits for reversing Type 2 diabetes, the diet may also present some risks for people with the condition.

If you use insulin or medications and suddenly eat much less than you normally do, you may experience hypoglycemia, a condition where your blood sugar can drop too low.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), hypoglycemia can cause the following symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Chills
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling nervous
  • Irritability
  • Low energy
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shakiness
  • Sleepiness
  • Sweating

If you have diabetes, intermittent fasting can also increase your risk of developing hyperglycemia or high blood sugar.

Hyperglycemia can happen if you eat more than you normally do, which can happen if you’re very hungry after intermittent fasting.

High blood sugar levels can increase the risk of these diabetes complications:

  • Eye conditions and blindness
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Kidney disease
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy)
  • Stroke

Before starting intermittent fasting or other weight loss plans, check in with a member of your diabetes care team, such as a dietitian or a physician, to make sure it's safe for you.

Other benefits of intermittent fasting for diabetes

When done safely, intermittent fasting may offer some benefits if you have diabetes.

If you are diabetic and the diet helps you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, you may eventually be able to reduce the amount of diabetes medication you take.

Other potential benefits of intermittent fasting for diabetes include:

  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Increased fat oxidation
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower oxidative stress
  • Reduced appetite

Tips for diabetes prevention and management

If you already have Type 2 diabetes, experts recommend managing your condition by eating these nutritious foods:

  • Beans
  • Cold-water, wild fatty fish
  • Cage-free (pasture-raised) eggs that are full of high-quality protein
  • Cruciferous veggies
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Nuts
  • Organic chia seeds that are full of dietary fiber and low in digestible carbs

If you want to prevent Type 2 diabetes before it starts, follow a balanced diet and avoid fried foods along with sugary and heavily processed foods and beverages. Getting enough sleep and exercising regularly can also help protect against diabetes.

"Diabetes remission is possible if patients lose weight by changing their diet and exercise habits," advised Liu.

While these recommendations are commonly given regardless of your disease, trying intermittent fasting can help you reach your health goals.

Visit to read more articles with tips on diabetes prevention and management.

Watch the video below to know more about the beneficial effects of moringa against diabetes.

This video is from the Groovy Bee channel on

More related stories:

Exercising regularly is key to reversing Type 2 diabetes.

Health and nutrition: Study links eating a plant-based diet to lower risk of diabetes.

Japanese scientists discover new benefits of fasting.

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