Type 2 diabetes is a condition that affects millions of people around the world. It is characterized by high blood sugar levels due to insulin resistance or reduced insulin production. Insulin is a hormone that helps your cells use glucose (sugar) for energy. When you have type 2 diabetes, your cells become less responsive to insulin, or your pancreas cannot make enough of it, resulting in glucose buildup in your bloodstream.
Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious complications. Therefore, it is important to control your blood sugar levels and prevent or delay these complications.
But is it possible to reverse type 2 diabetes? And if so, how long does it take?
What does it mean to reverse type 2 diabetes?
Reversing type 2 diabetes means that you are able to bring your blood sugar levels back to the normal range without taking any diabetes medication. This is also called remission. Remission does not mean that you are cured of diabetes, as the underlying causes of the condition may still be present. However, it means that you have improved your health and reduced your risk of complications.
How can you reverse type 2 diabetes?
The main way to reverse type 2 diabetes is by losing excess weight and following a healthy diet and lifestyle. This can help improve your insulin sensitivity and lower your blood sugar levels. Research has shown that losing about 15 kg (or 2 stone 5 lbs) can increase your chances of achieving remission, especially if you do it soon after being diagnosed with diabetes. However, even losing 5% of your body weight can have significant benefits for your health.
There are different ways to lose weight and follow a healthy diet, such as:
Following a low-calorie diet: This involves eating fewer calories than you burn, usually around 800 to 1200 calories per day. This can help you lose weight quickly and lower your blood sugar levels. However, this may not be suitable for everyone, and you should consult your doctor before starting a low-calorie diet.
Following a low-carbohydrate diet: This involves limiting the amount of carbohydrates (such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, fruits, and sweets) that you eat and replacing them with more protein and healthy fats (such as meat, fish, eggs, cheese, nuts, seeds, and oils). This can help you reduce your blood sugar spikes and improve your insulin sensitivity. However, this may not be suitable for everyone, and you should consult your doctor before starting a low-carbohydrate diet.
Following a Mediterranean diet: This involves eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish, poultry, olive oil, and moderate amounts of dairy products and red wine. This can help you lower your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, inflammation, and oxidative stress, which are all risk factors for diabetes complications. However, this may not be suitable for everyone, and you should consult your doctor before starting a Mediterranean diet.
In addition to losing weight and following a healthy diet, you should also:
Exercise regularly: This involves doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or dancing. This can help you burn calories, improve your cardiovascular health, lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and increase your insulin sensitivity and muscle mass.
Quit smoking: Smoking can increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and its complications by damaging your blood vessels and organs. Quitting smoking can improve your blood circulation, lung function, and immune system, and reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other diseases.
Manage stress: Stress can raise your blood sugar levels by triggering the release of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can also increase your appetite, blood pressure, heart rate, and inflammation, which can worsen your diabetes symptoms and complications. Managing stress can help you lower your blood sugar levels by relaxing your mind and body. You can try different techniques such as meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, massage, or counseling.
How long does it take to reverse type 2 diabetes?
There is no definitive answer to how long it takes to reverse type 2 diabetes. It depends on several factors such as:
How long you have had diabetes
How severe your diabetes is
How much weight you need to lose
How well you follow the diet and lifestyle changes
How often you monitor your blood sugar levels
How responsive your body is to the changes
Some people may be able to reverse their type 2 diabetes within weeks or months of making the changes. Others may take longer or may not achieve remission at all. The important thing is to keep trying and not give up, as any improvement in your blood sugar levels and health can make a difference.
How can you maintain your remission?
If you have achieved remission from type 2 diabetes, congratulations! You have done a great job of improving your health and well-being. However, this does not mean that you can go back to your old habits and forget about your diabetes. Remission is not permanent, and you may still have a risk of developing diabetes again if you gain weight or stop following the diet and lifestyle changes.
To maintain your remission, you should:
Continue to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly: This can help you detect any changes or signs of diabetes recurrence. You should aim to keep your blood sugar levels within the normal range, which is usually between 70 to 120 mg/dl before meals and less than 160 mg/dl two hours after meals.
Continue to follow the diet and lifestyle changes that helped you reverse your diabetes: This can help you prevent weight gain and keep your insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels stable. You should also consult your doctor or dietitian for any adjustments or recommendations that may suit your needs and preferences.
Continue to see your doctor regularly: Your doctor can help you monitor your health and check for any signs of diabetes complications or other conditions. You should also follow their advice on any medications or supplements that you may need to take or stop taking.
Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition that can affect your quality of life and increase your risk of complications. However, it is possible to reverse it by losing weight and following a healthy diet and lifestyle. This can help you lower your blood sugar levels and improve your health and well-being. However, reversing type 2 diabetes is not easy or quick, and it may not be possible for everyone. It requires commitment, motivation, and support from yourself and others. It also requires regular monitoring, maintenance, and medical care. If you have type 2 diabetes or are at risk of developing it, talk to your doctor about the best ways to reverse or prevent it. Remember that every step you take can make a difference.
Dr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam, MD, FRCP (London), FACP (USA)
Internal Medicine Specialist
Phone : 85000 23456