Study reports use of nutritional ketosis with mobile app intervention could reverse Type 2 diabetes

Feb. 8, 2018

A newly published study has shown that an individualized approach to nutritional ketosis (utilizing fat rather than glucose to fuel the body), combined with remote monitoring via a mobile application, could sustainably and safely reverse Type 2 diabetes.

The study, compiled by San Francisco-based Virta Health, reports that the treatment could also improve other chronic metabolic diseases without medication or surgery intervention.

Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, IU Health Arnett in Lafayette, Indiana, and others collaborated with Virta Health to publish one-year outcomes from the ongoing 5-year trial Feb. 7 in Diabetes Therapy. Other collaborators include the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles; Washington University School of Medicine, Department of Genetics, St. Louis, Missouri; and Ohio State University, Department of Human Sciences, Columbus, Ohio.

The study, “Effectiveness and Safety of a Novel Care Model for Management of Type 2 Diabetes at One Year: An Open Label, Non-Randomized, Controlled Study,” oversaw 349 Type 2 diabetes patients. A control of 87 patients elected to receive “usual care” provided by their own physicians and dieticians following the American Diabetes Association recommendations. The other 262 patients elected to adopt individualized, low carbohydrate, high fat nutrition while being connected to a health coach and physician via a mobile application, which also contained educational resources.

The intervention studied focused on five points: Access to a health coach, a physician for medication management, biomarker feedback, nutrition and behavior change education, and an online community.

The dietary intervention promoted non-starchy carbohydrate sources with a moderate protein intake. This model enabled patients to sustain nutritional ketosis, where the body uses fat as its primary fuel source instead of glucose. Additionally, patients interacted with their health coach or physician via the mobile application, sometimes multiple times per day.

Virta Health and colleagues reported the results of the first year of the trial. Of the study’s 262 intervention patients, 83% remained in the program. The patients also exhibited an average decrease of 1.3% in hemoglobin A1C (a marker that represents a person’s average blood glucose over the last 3 months). Additionally, patients saw 12% weight loss during the year.

The findings demonstrated a reversal in diabetes progression. For example, of those receiving the Virta Treatment, 94% of patients on insulin decreased or eliminated their dosage by year’s end, and 60% of patients showed hemoglobin A1C levels below the diabetes threshold without medication or only metformin (metformin has indications outside of T2D). In contrast, usual care participants experienced no significant changes in A1C or diabetes medication use.

Purdue University has the full article

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