Using stem cells to create insulin-producing beta cells that could be transplanted into diabetics is being investigated as a possible cure for type 1 diabetes and treatment for type 2, but new research suggests that a special diet could reprogram cells in the pancreas to do the same thing.
Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) claim that a diet that mimics the effects of fasting spurs the growth of new insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreases of mice, essentially reversing the disease.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes center around insulin, or rather, the lack thereof. Put very simply, in type 1 diabetes, the body – specifically, the pancreas – stops producing insulin, while in type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t use insulin properly and eventually is unable to produce enough insulin to compensate.
In both type 1 and late-stage type 2 diabetes, insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are lost, meaning many diabetics need to take insulin to replace what’s not being made by the pancreas.