Eating food only in daytime could help manage blood sugar in type 2 diabetes

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Scientists from Maastricht University found that following a time-restricted eating protocol, which limits food intake to a maximum 10-hour time window, can benefit metabolic health in people with type 2 diabetes.

The research is published in Diabetologia and was conducted by Prof. Patrick Schrauwen et al.

Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the pancreas.

The condition has strong genetic and family-related (non-modifiable) risk factors and is also often associated with modifiable lifestyle risk factors.

People may be able to significantly slow or even halt the progression of the condition through changes to diet and increasing the amount of physical activity they do.

Time-restricted eating refers to when eating is limited to a certain number of hours each day.

People who practice time-restricted eating typically eat during an 8- to 12-hour daytime window and fast during the remaining 12 to 16 hours.

Unlike intermittent fasting, which involves caloric restriction, time-restricted eating permits a person to eat as much as they want during the eating window.

Time-restricted eating is suggested to improve metabolic health by limiting food intake to a defined time window, thereby prolonging the overnight fast.

This prolonged fast may lead to better blood sugar levels overnight and might improve insulin sensitivity.

Previous studies have shown healthy metabolic effects of 6–8 hours of time-restricted eating in healthy, overweight adults.

In the current study, researchers focused on the effects of time-restricted eating on blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes.

They tested 14 adults with type 2 diabetes in a three-week time-restricted eating (daily food intake within 10 hours) vs control (spreading food intake over 14 hours) regimen.

The team found that time-restricted eating decreased 24-hour blood sugar levels, primarily as a result of lower night blood sugar.

Time-restricted eating decreased fasting blood sugar and 24 hours blood sugar levels. Morning fasting blood sugar was consistently lower among the time-restricted eating group than those on the control diet.

The team also found energy expenditure over 24 h was unaffected; however, time-restricted eating decreased 24-hour blood sugar oxidation which is essential for human metabolism.

No negative effects were reported that were related to the interventions.

Based on the findings, the researchers concluded that a 10-hour time-restricted eating regimen is a feasible, safe, and effective means to improve blood sugar levels in adults with type 2 diabetes.

However, these changes were not accompanied by changes in insulin sensitivity. Future work needs to confirm these findings.

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