Diet That Mimics Fasting May Reverse Diabetes–Periodic Cycles of Fasting Reprogram Pancreatic Cells and Restore Insulin Production

A diet designed to imitate the effects of fasting appears to reverse diabetes by reprogramming cells, a new University of Southern California (USC)-led study shows. The fasting-like diet promotes the growth of new insulin-producing pancreatic cells that reduce symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in mice, according to the study on mice and human cells led by Dr. Valter Longo, Director of the Longevity Institute at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. "Cycles of a fasting-mimicking diet and a normal diet essentially reprogrammed non-insulin-producing cells into insulin-producing cells," said Dr. Longo, who is also a professor of biological sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. "By activating the regeneration of pancreatic cells, we were able to rescue mice from late-stage type 1 and type 2 diabetes. We also reactivated insulin production in human pancreatic cells from type 1 diabetes patients." The reprogrammed adult cells and organs prompted a regeneration in which damaged cells were replaced with new functional ones, he said. The study, published in the February 23, 2017 issue of Cell, is the latest in a series of studies to demonstrate promising health benefits of a brief, periodic diet that mimics the effects of a water-only fast. The Cell article is titled “Fasting-Mimicking Diet Promotes Ngn3-Driven β-Cell Regeneration to Reverse Diabetes.” In type 1 and late-stage type 2 diabetes, the pancreas loses insulin-producing beta cells, increasing instability in blood sugar levels. The study showed a remarkable reversal of diabetes in mice placed on the fasting-mimicking diet for four days each week. They regained healthy insulin production, reduced insulin resistance and demonstrated more stable levels of blood glucose.
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