The United StatesDepartment of Veterans Affairs has teamed up with Virta Health, a SiliconValley startup, to provide treatment clinically-proven to safely andsustainably reverse type 2 diabetes without medication or surgery.
The collaboration has beenat the heart of ongoing debates about the effect of the keto diet on reversingtype 2 diabetes.
Incepted in 2014, Virta isa startup health company that has designed and developed a proprietary systemthat encourages type 2 diabetic people to follow the keto diet, which is low incarbs and high in fats.
The keto diet has gainedimmense popularity in recent years with more and more people experiencing itsbenefits of losing weight and improved health. However, Virtas claim aboutreversing diabetes with the keto diet is unusual.
Type 2 diabetes is oftenlinked to obesity and Virta claims its studies have suggested that losingweight through keto could help control blood sugar levels in diabetics.
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Some experts have doubtsabout the companys promise to reverse diabetes with the ketogenic diet. Theyalso expressed their concerns that the federal government is giving thecompanys promise too much acceptance.
Announcing thecollaboration, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said, Virtas regimen would help thedepartment create a more comprehensive approach to care.
According to the agreement,the startup health company has been providing its service free to 400 VApatients for about a year, with ongoing evaluation of the service and theirhealth.
In November, Virta said theinitial 90-day results of its service were promising and veterans reportedweight loss, good control over blood sugar and lower reliance on diabetesmedication.
Former vice president ofVirta, Anand Parikh, said, One of the most important things about ourapproach is that we individualize for each person.
The company offers dietcoaching, monitoring, and support through a smartphone app, in which patientscan regularly upload their blood glucose readings and other medical details,such as blood pressure and weight.
However, the VAscollaboration with Virta has raised concerns among some experts.
In October, Rep. JoshGottheimer sent a letter to Wilkie, stating, The partnership between the VAand Virta Health Corporation provides tacit approval of the ketogenic diet as ameans to reverse the impacts of type 2 diabetes. Promoting a ketogenic diet forpatients with diabetes may put them at increased health risk.
Dr. Randall Stafford fromStanford University reviewed Virtas research and called the resultsencouraging. However, he said the comparison group was fairly useless, giventhat it was composed of people who did not want to change their diets.
He said results do not suggestthat the companys treatment alters diabetes. My interpretation is thatthe keto diet is a temporizing measure, not a cure, he added.