Hope & Healing: The UF Health Blog

Thinking “Fast” May Improve Outcomes in Obese Adults with Type 2 Diabetes and Fatty Liver Disease

Despite decades of research and thousands of articles on the subject, clinicians are no closer to finding the ideal diet for patients with diabetes than when their search began. Low-carb, low-fat, ketogenic, vegetarian, vegan, carb counting — it seems that a study is no sooner published supporting a particular diet than another is published suggesting the opposite diet is better.

In the opinion of Troy William Donahoo, M.D., FTOS, a clinical associate professor at the University of Florida in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, “Clearly the ideal diet for patients with diabetes isn’t simply a question of composition versus calories. There must be something more.” Donahoo’s research on fasting is headed in that direction.

Upton Sinclair wrote about fasting more than 100 years ago. The effects of starvation on the human body were studied after World War II. In the 1950s and 1960s clinicians experimented with fasting in severely obese patients, at times with fatal consequences. Medical science has come a long way since then. Donahoo’s research team is tackling the problem by investigating the potential benefits of an increasingly popular dieting strategy called intermittent fasting.

When fasting, the body converts fat into fatty acids that can be absorbed by the blood. But as Donahoo explains, “The human body is designed to feed and fast, not for long-term ketosis or chronic dietary restriction.” Encouraged by the success of the team’s pilot study on intermittent fasting, which was recently published in Obesity, the official journal of the Obesity Society, Donahoo’s team is now evaluating the safety and efficacy of intermittent fasting in adults with Type 2 diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

UF Health is thinking “fast” and working hard to improve outcomes in obese adults with Type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease.

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