Dynamics of intermittent fasting in Diabetes

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How exactly fasting manages type 2 diabetes?

High levels of insulin cause insulin resistance which in turn causes type 2 diabetes. When we fast and don’t eat, we don’t trigger or bother our body insulin which as a result breaks the vicious cycle that causes insulin resistance. So, fasting keeps our body insulin level low which is a very healthy state and can play a major role in achieving “diabetes remission” which is a diabetes free state.

Fasting and body stored fats

The duration of fast also matters, if we fast for a longer period, insulin will remain low for a long period of time as well. According to Dr. Jasun Fung, doing that on a regular basis will keep us fit and healthy. Much longer fasts allow our body to switch fuel sources. We have previously seen that our body stores unused food energy as glycogen and fats. So, when we increase the duration of fast and a result our insulin level falls, then this signals our body to start using stored food as no new food is entering into our body via our mouths. It’s like allowing your body to eat its own body fat as a meal which is incredibly good for our health as it cleanses our body stores.

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Prolonged fast and autophagy

If fasting is stretched for upto18 hours, it transfers our body into an autophagy mode which is a way our body cleans and get rid of damaged cells and produce new healthier cells. So, if you eat your dinner at 6:00 pm and then skip your next day breakfast and eat lunch at 12:00 pm, you can set your body into an autophagy mode by 18 hours of continuous fast. Drinking sugar free tea, coffee or water however do not break the fast and can be consumed.

Correct way or method of fasting

Nevertheless, to make the most of intermittent fasting, it is equally important to eat a good nutritive diet without overeating or overindulging in food. Adding good fats to the diet, moderate proteins, lots of vegetables, some amount of dairy and keeping oneself busy will ease the chance of going from one meal to the next meal longer. Correct fasting is like decluttering a house and creating more space for future storage. It is like a fresh vibrant start of life.

Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash
Photo by Grass America on Unsplash

Example: How to achieve intermittent fasting?

Intermittent fasting allows long gaps in between the meals, and thus keeps insulin levels low which is the most affective thing in diabetes. Dr Eric Berg (DC is a chiropractor and health educator) gave an example of intermittent fasting. Eat an early satisfying healthy dinner at night, for example eat at 6:00 pm. Then morning ignore first hunger which is because of a hormone called cortisol and skip breakfast. However, you may drink plain water and sugar free tea or coffee with a teaspoon of extra virgin coconut oil. Later, prepare your healthy diabetes friendly lunch at 12:00 and enjoy it. Then avoid snacking in between and push yourself 6 hours interval and then eat dinner at 6:00 pm. So, 18 hours of continuous intermittent fasting can be achieved this way (you can have sugar free drinks, water tea, coffee as they don’t break your fast).

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Some more tips:

Generally, eat when you are “very” hungry (like when you get irritable).

Eat satisfying meal by adding good fats to the diet so you could easily increase the gap from one meal to the next one.

Adding vegetables to the diet provide food for our microbes that in return help reduce blood sugar and are rich in nutrients.

Say no to snacks, eating stimulates hunger which then releases insulin and exacerbate the cycle.

Make sure you take enough sea salt and potassium rich electrolytes

Let your body decide how many meals, you might end up eating just one good quality meal a day.

Skip breakfast, have sugar free tea with a teaspoon of coconut oil

Photo by Madalyn Cox on Unsplash

Final thoughts — Diabetes and intermittent fasting

Fasting is a very powerful tool to manage diabetes as it breaks the cycle of insulin resistance which is the lead cause of type 2 Diabetes. It also cleans body reserved fats which then allow future unused food to be stored in the body storage areas without overspilling excess sugar into the blood. However, fasting should be practised after consulting one’s physician, and close monitoring of sugar level is required to prevent any complication like hypoglycaemia.

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MBBS, MSc, PGDip Public Health, (UK)

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MBBS, MSc, PGDip Public Health, (UK)

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