A diet designed to imitate the effects of fasting appears to reverse diabetes by reprogramming cells, a new USC-led study shows.
The fasting-like diet promotes the growth of new insulin-producing pancreatic cells that reduce symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in mice, according to the study on mice and human cells led by Valter Longo, director of the Longevity Institute at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.
“Cycles of a fasting-mimicking diet and a normal diet essentially reprogrammed non-insulin-producing cells into insulin-producing cells,” said Longo, who is also a professor of biological sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “By activating the regeneration of pancreatic cells, we were able to rescue mice from late-stage type 1 and type 2 diabetes. We also reactivated insulin production in human pancreatic cells from type 1 diabetes patients.”
The reprogrammed adult cells and organs prompted a regeneration in which damaged cells were replaced with new functional ones, he said.
The study published on Feb. 23 in the journal Cell, is the latest in a series of studies to demonstrate promising health benefits of a brief, periodic diet that mimics the effects of a water-only fast.