(CBS) Can a diet cure type 2 diabetes? That's what British researchers are saying, after a low calorie diet reversed diabetes for 11 people.
"This is a radical change in understanding type 2 diabetes," Dr. Roy Taylor, professor of medicine and metabolism at at Newcastle University in the U.K. said in a written statement. He thinks these findings might change the way doctors treat the disease.
For the eight week study - published in the June 24 issue of "Diabetologia"- researchers tracked the insulin levels of the diabetics as they ate an extreme 600-calorie-a-day diet consisting solely of diet shakes and non-starchy vegetables. After one week on the diet, the diabetics' blood sugar levels were no longer elevated. After eight weeks on the diet, their bodies' regained the ability to make insulin, essentially curing them of diabetes.
"To have people free of diabetes after years with the condition is remarkable - and all because of an eight week diet," Dr. Taylor said in the statement.
One of the study participants, 67-year-old Gordon Parmley agreed. Speaking of the diabetes drugs he used to take,"Still today, 18 months on, I don't take them," he told The Daily Telegraph. "It's astonishing really that a diet - hard as it was - could change my health so drastically."
What's the hitch? A 600 calorie diet can feel brutal, considering that health experts generally recommend that adults get 2000. Parmley said his hunger was so severe, he'd have to distract himself with golf and walking the dog to take his mind off food.
That's why Dr. Taylor estimates only 5 percent of diabetics would stick to this diet. If they could, it would potentially help the 25 million-plus Americans that have type 2 diabetes, a disease that can cause stroke, heart disease, and kidney disease.
The American Diabetes Association has more on diabetes.