Fasting diets could increase your risk of diabetes

IF you’re a fan of fasting diets, you need to read this.

Fasting every other day could increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, experts have warned.

Diets like the 5:2 diet, which encourages people to eat normally for five days a week but severely restrict their calories on the other two, have gained popularity for their weight loss success over the last few years.

But new evidence from the European Society of Endocrinology suggests it may damage the pancreas and impair insulin levels in the body, the hormone responsible for regulating sugar in the blood.

Experts from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil looked at the effects of fasting every other day on rats over a three-month period.

The rodents’ weight and food intake did decrease over that time, as was expected, but the amount of fat around their belly actually increased.

The cells in the pancreas responsible for releasing insulin were also damaged and were showing signs of insulin resistance — a clear risk factor for diabetes.

Lead author Ana Bonassa said: “This is the first study to show that, despite weight loss, intermittent fasting diets may actually damage the pancreas and affect insulin function in normal healthy individuals, which could lead to diabetes and serious health issues.

“We should consider that overweight or obese people who opt for intermittent fasting diets may already have insulin resistance, so although this diet may lead to early, rapid weight loss, in the long-term there could be potentially serious damaging effects to their health, such as the development of type-2 diabetes.”

The researchers’ next step is to look into why fasting damages the pancreas.

Type 2 diabetes is the more common form of the disease – accounting for between 85 and 95 percent of all cases, according to Diabetes UK.

It develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body are unable to make enough.

It can also be triggered when the insulin that is produced doesn’t work properly.

Ever-increasing obesity levels mean type 2 diabetes is becoming more of a problem, particularly in Western societies.

If insulin levels become too low in the body, or it becomes resistant to the hormone, it can cause high blood sugar levels leading to heart, kidney and eye damage.

Previous research has also shown that short-term fasting can produce molecules called free radicals, which are highly reactive chemicals that can cause damage to the body at a cellular level.

They may even be associated with impaired organ function, cancer risk and accelerated aging.

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