You’ve probably read claims from people saying they reversed their diabetes within 4 weeks and perhaps even seen advertisements for “natural” products that “cure” diabetes. Is it really possible to cure diabetes or reverse it?
Diabetes is a disease in which the body is unable to properly use and store glucose (a form of sugar). Glucose backs up in the bloodstream — causing one’s blood glucose (sometimes referred to as blood sugar) to rise too high. Blood sugar (glucose) is the body’s main source of fuel for energy. Insulin is the hormone that the body makes to help us use and store glucose properly.
Experts believe that by the time someone is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, the condition has been going on for five to ten years and the person has lost more than half of their body’s ability to make insulin. There is no magic bullet, no natural product or special formulation that can reverse damage to the body that has occurred over a period of several years.
More than ten years of research by the National Institute of Health (NIH) Diabetes Prevention Program on people with normal blood sugar levels, patients with prediabetes and those with Type 2 diabetes, show that losing weight and keeping it off, eating healthy and exercising 150 – 175 minutes per week delays the onset of prediabetes, delays progression of prediabetes to type 2 diabetes, or slows the progression of type 2 diabetes.
In another study, by following the same regimen and limiting daily intake of calories, 10% of patients with diabetes were able to get off medications within a year. The best results were in those who lost the most weight, had less severe diabetes from the start or were newly diagnosed with diabetes.
The term ‘reversal’ is used when people are able to stop using medication but must still maintain a healthy lifestyle program in order to stay off the meds. Lifestyle changes are crucial to managing diabetes. Reversal depends on how long you’ve had the condition and how severe it is. Your genes play a role too and so you can be thin and still develop diabetes.
There is no “cure” for diabetes but with lifestyle changes it is possible for some people to reverse diabetes. For others a combination of a healthy lifestyle and medications will keep blood sugar levels at their best.
Move more – Physical activity is an essential part of the treatment plan for diabetes, because it lowers blood sugar levels and decreases body fat. Your goal is to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
Lose weight – Studies show that as little as 5% – 10% weight loss (4.5kg to 9kg weight loss for a 90kg person) makes a difference, slowing the progression of diabetes, reducing cholesterol and triglycerides and reducing blood pressure.
See your doctor every 2 – 3 months – to make sure you’re on track and for encouragement
Eat better – low fat, low salt, low carbohydrate, lean protein, high fiber, vegetables, fruit
Get enough sleep – 7 – 8 hours daily
Get support – surround yourself with positive influences, enlist people to hold you accountable
Choose life – commit to a healthy lifestyle program