Diabetes Remission Diet Shown to Reduce Blood Pressure

Skylar Kenney, Assistant Editor

A recent study also found that weight loss may decrease dependence on medication.

Individuals who achieve and maintain substantial weight loss in order to manage type 2 diabetes may also effectively control their hypertension, according to a study published in Diabetologia. These patients can potentially reduce the amount of anti-hypertensive medication they take or even stop using it altogether.

The investigators developed a weight management program that has proved effective at lowering blood pressure and reducing the need for anti-hypertensive medications, as well as bringing remission of type 2 diabetes. It involves 12 weeks of a nutritionally complete formula diet, including low calorie soups and shakes, to induce weight loss of over 30 lb. Diabetes and blood pressure drugs were stopped at the beginning of the diet, and only re-started if blood sugar or blood pressure rose.

The DIabetes REmission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) followed 143 individuals on the diet program, with 78 of these patients using medication for high blood pressure at the start. Of the patients taking hypertension medications, 28% needed to reintroduce a blood pressure tablet during the formula diet period, while another 28% were able to remain off their medications for at least 2 years.

“We wanted to evaluate the safety and efficacy of withdrawing blood pressure medication when beginning our specially-designed weight-loss program for type 2 diabetes, and we are really pleased with the results,” said Mike Lean, MD, FRCP, FRCPS, in a press release. “The DiRECT trial was done entirely in primary care. The evidence shows that [general practitioners] can safely offer an evidence-based intensive weight management intervention, aiming for substantial weight loss and remission of type 2 diabetes. The study further highlights the links between diet, weight, type 2 diabetes and hypertension, and how long-term support to maintain weight loss is vital.”

The weight loss phase is followed by nutritional support, assisting patients in choosing foods and eating wisely for weight loss maintenance. Maintaining the 30 lb. weight loss was associated with 8 of 10 patients no longer using their diabetes medications for at least 2 years.

“The potential to no longer need medications for blood pressure and diabetes is a big incentive for people,” said Wilma Leslie, PhD, in the press release. “We hope our results will reassure health professionals that this is possible and encourage the wider provision of diabetes remission services.”

REFERENCE

Diabetes remission diet also lowers blood pressure and reduces need for medication [news release]. EurekAlert; June 1, 2021. Accessed June 1, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-05/d-drd052721.php