Although type 2 diabetics are often instructed to delay eating after using injectable insulin for the drug to work its way into the body a new study led by Nicolle Mueller of Universitätsklinikum Jena in Germany says that's not necessary.*
To prove this theory Mueller and her colleagues randomized type 2 diabetics into two groups. In the first group, 49 people waited 20 minutes to eat after using human insulin for four weeks, then switched to eating immediately after injecting insulin for another four weeks. A second group of 48 diabetics did the same in reverse order, eating immediately after injection for the first four weeks. They then observed a waiting period for the next four.
While a blood test which measured average glucose levels over time showed that all the participants had generally higher than ideal blood sugar levels, researchers found that the difference in those levels between periods when they waited or didn't wait to eat after insulin injections was a mere 0.08%.
"It's a very promising result. It will lead to better adherence and satisfaction," said Dr. Aaron Cypess, a staff endocrinologist in the clinic of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston told Reuters. Cypress, by the way was not involved in the study.
Insulin gives glucose - or blood sugar - access to the body's cells to be used as fuel. But in type 2 diabetes cells are resistant to insulin or the body doesn't make enough of the hormone, so glucose remains in the bloodstream and can climb to dangerously high levels.
* While injectable insulin is available for diabetics in a newer fast-acting form, it is expensive, and as a result a lot of patients still use human insulin, which takes some time to become active in the body, which is why doctors often still recommend waiting to eat after using human insulin to prevent blood sugar spikes.