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Low-calorie diet used to reverse diabetes

People with Type 2 diabetes could reverse their condition by following a very low-calorie diet, according to new research.

The expert behind the study said the "remarkable" findings showed an eight-week diet could prompt the body to produce its own insulin.

The breakthrough suggests a dramatic drop in calories has a direct effect on reducing fat accumulated in the pancreas, which in turn prompts insulin cells to "wake up".

Just 600 calories a day as part of a special diet could be enough to reverse Type 2 diabetes in some patients.

The findings are consistent with the belief that a lack of insulin secretion -- which is vital for blood sugar control -- is due to accumulation of fat in the liver and pancreas.

Experts at Newcastle University carried out an early-stage trial on 11 people with diabetes.

They followed a diet of drinks (containing 46.4pc carbohydrate, 32.5pc protein and 20.1pc fat, with vitamins and minerals) and non-starchy vegetables.

After just one week, pre-breakfast blood sugar levels had returned to normal among the group.

Over two months, insulin cell function in the pancreas increased towards normal and pancreatic fat decreased, as shown on MRI scans.

Three months later, after going back to normal eating with advice on portion control and healthy foods, seven people remained free of diabetes.

Professor Roy Taylor of Newcastle University who led the study, said: "For many years, it has been assumed that Type 2 diabetes is a life sentence.

"However, we have been able to show that it is in fact reversible."