A soup and shake diet that has shown to reverse type 2 diabetes “definitely isn’t suitable for the majority of people” and will only work for a “very small number of highly motivated individuals”, according to a top nutrition scientist.
The results of a trial of the 800-calories a day diet have shown that people with the condition can put type 2 diabetes into remission for at least five years.
However, the programme has attracted criticism from Professor Tim Spector, who said that “real food” is the solution to better long-term health.
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As meal replacement shakes and soups are made up of ingredients not typically found in a kitchen, they are classed as ultra-processed foods.
Professor Spector said: “Out of the original 149 participants, only 11 managed to reverse their diabetes.
“The positive thing here is that this research does show that it is possible to get a very small number of highly motivated individuals into remission via calorie control.
“However, 800 kcals of soups and shakes definitely isn’t suitable for the majority of people.
“We believe that using real food is the answer to long-term health, not these low-calorie, ultra-processed food (UPF) substitutes.
“It’s completely the wrong message to give people whose poor diet got them into trouble in the first place, [that they can use] a UPF diet to fix it.”
The Diabetes UK-funded trial known as the “Newcastle Diet” involved 149 participants with type 2 diabetes sticking to a soup and shake diet for between 12 and 20 weeks.
Two years later, just over a third of the volunteers were free of type 2 diabetes.
In the following three years, 95 participants received further support, with 23% remaining in remission.
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Type 2 diabetes affects around 4.5 million people in the UK and is largely associated with being overweight or obese.
Dr Elizabeth Robertson, director of research at Diabetes UK, said: “For those who put type 2 diabetes into remission, it can be life-changing, offering a better chance of a healthier future.
“For those that aren’t able to go into remission, losing weight can still lead to major health benefits, including improved blood sugar levels, and reduced risk of serious diabetes complications such as heart attack and stroke.”