New research has concluded that Type 2 diabetes can be treated, and sometimes reversed, with dietary interventions and that pharmacists are well-positioned to supervise the transition in their patients.
Researchers from Teesside University along with experts from a Canadian university found that more than one in three people in their study with Type 2 diabetes were able to come off all medications for the condition.
The study, published in Nature Communications, was part of a 12-week investigation involving a specialised diet that was managed by community pharmacists.
Study participants, all living with Type 2 diabetes, were given a meal plan of low calorie, low carbohydrate, higher protein foods and they checked in regularly with their pharmacist who could monitor their medications.
Co-investigator Alan Batterham, professor of health sciences in Teesside University, said the key was a targeted nutritional approach, supervised by a community pharmacist who could monitor prescribed medications.
He added: “The intervention was effective in reducing the need for glucose-lowering medications for many in our study.
“This indicates that community pharmacists are a viable and innovative option for implementing short-term nutritional interventions for people with Type 2 diabetes, particularly when medication management is a safety concern.”
Half of the participants in the study followed the low-calorie, low-carbohydrate, higher-protein diet, checking regularly with their pharmacist.
After 12 weeks, more than a third of participants with Type 2 diabetes were off all diabetes medications, versus none in the control group.
Pharmacists are generally more accessible than a family doctor, said study co-author Dr Jonathan Little, an associate professor in University of British Columbia in Canada, noting that people with Type 2 diabetes often make more visits a year to their pharmacist than their doctor.
He said: “Community pharmacists have expertise in medication management and can serve an important role in overall diabetes care.
“However, we needed a strategy to help people implement these interventions while keeping an eye on their medication changes.
“When Type 2 diabetes patients follow a very low-carbohydrate or low-calorie diet, there is a need to reduce or eliminate glucose-lowering medications.
“Community pharmacists are ideally positioned to safely and effectively deliver interventions targeted at reducing diabetes medications while promoting Type 2 diabetes remission.”