Dr. Fung says he decided to experiment with intermittent fasting because he was frustrated seeing so many diabetic patients with kidney failure. “It occurred to me that fasting was an underutilized therapeutic option for losing weight,” he recalls. “I started doing this five years ago, and a lot of people got incredibly good results – it reversed their diabetes.”
A major feature of the disease is a condition known as insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that moves glucose (sugar), from the bloodstream into the body’s cells where it is used for energy. For a variety of reasons that are not fully understood, the body’s tissues don’t respond adequately to insulin and glucose then becomes elevated in the bloodstream.
There are major barriers for widespread use of islet also-transplantation that can help people with type 1 diabetes. The shortage of islets from donors is a huge obstacle. The other obstacle is that this is still considered an experimental procedure and until the procedure is considered successful enough to be labeled therapeutic by the FDA instead of experimental, the costs of these transplants come from limited research funds.
The gastric bypass that Benari got, for instance, resculpts the digestive system. Surgeons seal off a large part of the stomach using staples, leaving behind a small upper pouch, while rerouting part of the small intestine to the new pouch, bypassing the rest. The net result is that less food can fit in the stomach, and there’s much less time for that food to be turned into calories before it exits the body. The vertical sleeve gastrectomy, the most popular surgery in recent years, only tinkers with the stomach, using staples to turn it into a small banana-shaped organ. (There are less permanent procedures, such as the lap band, but these have fallen out of favor due to their ineffectiveness).
Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too high. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy. With type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. With type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your body does not make or use insulin well. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in your blood. You can also have prediabetes. This means that your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. Having prediabetes puts you at a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes.