1 in 10 adults nowadays suffers from diabetes. And 90%-95% have type 2. It’s a long-term medical condition that can affect your health dramatically and even may be life-threatening.
Nowadays, not only adults but children can develop type 2 diabetes due to the increase in obesity rates in the world. Excess weight and obesity are the two major factors contributing to the possible development of the condition.
But can type 2 diabetes be reversed? Yes, if you’re ready to change your lifestyle forever and manage your health, maintaining normal blood sugar levels “manually.”
Is Type 2 Diabetes Reversible?
So, how can diabetes (type 2) be reversed if it’s not cured? Reversing a condition doesn’t mean getting rid of it. Weight loss, physical activity, diet changes, and even fasting can help you reach adequate blood sugar levels and feel diabetes-free for years, if not decades.
The disease is ongoing, and it may come back anytime. That’s why if you decide to get off medication and opt for a healthy lifestyle, you need to pick yourself up.
How Diabetes Progresses?
The condition revolves around a hormone called insulin that is created in your pancreas. Here’s how it works:
- You eat or drink something that can spike glucose levels (this is your blood sugar).
- The pancreas releases a dose of insulin to process this sugar and move it to cells so that you can have energy from what you’ve consumed.
- Glucose levels drop as you use the energy.
- The pancreas halts the release of the hormone.
This is an algorithm of proper hormonal work. Type 2 diabetes disrupts this process and, as a result, there’s not enough insulin released, or your organism develops resistance to it (you’re almost not insulin sensitive). Yet, sugar levels go up every time you eat or drink something (even if it’s not sweet). As glucose isn’t processed, it builds up in your blood, causing a condition called hyperglycemia.
Consequently, you develop the following symptoms:
- constant fatigue;
- increased thirst, urination, and hunger;
- slow healing of diseases and infections;
- decreased or blurry vision;
- weight loss, although you consume more than usually;
- dark spots on the body.
If you notice these symptoms in a combination, rush to the doctor.
How to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally?
Can type 2 diabetes be reversed without surgeries and medications? Yes. The key is healthy weight loss. Depending on your case and possibilities, you can choose one of the three ways to not only get rid of redundant sugars and fat and get more energy but become a diabetes-free person.
The latter can be the eventual result for people who suffer from the condition for only a couple of years and don’t need insulin to manage it yet.
More Physical Activity
Exercise is useful for all people, with or without this condition. It helps lose weight, keep muscles tight, give your body more support, increase serotonin levels, and reverse the symptoms of diabetes. Before doing your first workout, read these recommendations:
- Slow start is the best.
If you’ve rarely exercised before, start slowly with regular walks around the park. Every week, add more miles or slight exercise.
- Do quick walks.
When you get to a level where regular walks are too easy, try quick walking. It will increase your heart rate and act as a great cardio training.
- Check sugar levels.
Check glucose levels before the workout and after it. If there’s a chance, do a quick mid-exercise check.
- Grab a snack.
Have some food with you for emergencies when blood sugar decreases rapidly.
But can one reverse type 2 diabetes only by exercising? No, being physically active makes a huge difference, but if you consume little protein and fiber and more products with a high glycemic index, not much will change.
Aim for at least 10,000 steps a day, plus 2-3 hours of mild workout a week. Along with daily calorie intake reduction by 500-750 calories and following doctor recommendations, you can return blood sugar levels to normal and maintain long-term results.
Change Your Diet
You can also reverse diabetes (type 2) naturally by reassessing your diet. There are many types of diets for patients, and your choice depends on your individual case. The doctor can choose a healthy, balanced eating plan for you, but be prepared to:
- cut on sweets and carbs;
- limit alcohol intake;
- eat at certain time;
- calorie reduction, which is difficult to handle at first.
Such diets usually include:
- healthy fats;
- lots of vegetables and some fruits (frozen or fresh, both are good);
- lean proteins (beans, fish, soy, dairy, poultry);
- whole grains.
According to the American Diabetes Association, a low-carb, low-calorie eating plan is the best diet that will help reverse type 2 diabetes. There are no standard gram recommendations, but generally, you should eat an equal amount of carbs with every meal (45-60).
There are also doctors who consider a ketogenic diet the best for blood sugar level stabilization and weight loss. According to this plan, you’re allowed to only eat around 50 grams of carbohydrates a day. As a result, your body will use stored fat as the main energy source. The weight loss progresses faster, and the hormonal level improves.
However, there may be a few side effects:
- cholesterol level rise;
- muscle pain;
- bowel routine change;
- energy loss;
- bad breath.
More research should be done on the keto diet to conclude if it’s 100% safe. However, many people choose it and, after a period of adjustment, feel much better, reversing type 2 diabetes.
Overall, your eating habits should be changed and planned. In combination with regular exercise, the results won’t be long to wait.
As the main goal of these natural ways to reverse diabetes (type 2) is to maintain a certain blood sugar level, fasting can help you decrease it to the necessary minimum. Check the table below. There, you’ll find data for fasting, diet, and exercise.
First of all, let’s see three studies done on the matter:
- There was small research back in 2011 where a group of people that had type 2 diabetes for several years reduced their calorie intake for 8 weeks. Most have succeeded in reversing the condition.
- Another even smaller study involved 3 people with type 2 diabetes fasting for 24 hours three days a week. During fast days, they were allowed healthy dinners. On the rest of the days, they ate low-carb lunches and dinners. Two of the three people succeeded and stopped drug therapy, while the other person was able to cancel ¾ of their medication. The results were achieved for 1-3 weeks, and the participants could stop insulin treatment. Losing 10%-18% of their weight, the study was a success.
- One more study showed that eating 500-600 calories two days a week helped people improve their condition as much as with a simple 1,200-1,500 calories daily restriction.
We can see that fasting is one of the practical methods of halting the course of diabetes; however, it’s not one of the main ways to do that. People have different conditions, and it may be too difficult to adjust to such a diet.
Anyway today in 2022, this approach has to be discussed with a professional beforehand, either your doctor or a qualified dietitian.
Best Diet To Reverse Type 2 Diabetes
As you can see, specialists argue as to what diet is the best to adopt to reverse type 2 diabetes. However, there’s one kind that is the most mainstream. This is a low-carb, low-calorie diet.
There were several experiments in the UK that studied the effect of liquid and low-calorie diets on type 2 diabetes patients. The course of “treatment” lasted for 2 to 5 months, and almost half of the people succeeded in reversing the condition and maintaining the results for 6-12 months.
In your eating plan, a lot of attention should be devoted to the glycemic index of the products you use for your meals.
|Strawberry jelly||51||33||Soft drink with sugar||68||8|
|Banana||54||13||Wheat bread with fiber||68||30|
|Fruit coquetel||55||8||Table sugar (sucrose)||68||68|
|Whole rice||55||13||Wheat cereal||70||56|
|Fried potato (industrial)||55||14||Whole wheat bread||71||30|
|Chocolate bar (Snickers)||55||32||Watermelon||72||4|
|Oatmeal cereal||55||39||Cooked potato||73||18|
|Musli (cereal)||56||30||Corn cookie||74||42|
|Pizza (cheese and tomato)||60||16||Waffle||76||29|
|Ice cream (vanilla)||60||16||Donut||76||36|
|Sweet potato||61||14||White rice||80||24|
|Hamburger bread||61||30||Instant oat porridge||80||56|
|Condensed milk||61||35||Corn cereal||80||70|
|Beet||64||5||Rice flakes with sugar||82||70|
|Bean soup||64||7||Corn flakes with sugar||83||70|
|Apricot, canned||64||10||Roasted potato||85||21|
|Semolina bread||64||30||Wheat bread, no gluten||85||43|
|Raisins||64||47||Instant white rice||90||27|
|Cantaloupe (melon)||65||4||French bread||90||48|
|Cake, angel food||67||38||Maltose||105||105|
Glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) of carbohydrate-rich foods (index above 50).
Most of these will need to be dramatically limited or eliminated from your diet.
When talking about a low-calorie diet, this type requires more consultations with doctors because eating 600 calories a day may be too stressful for your body.
So, the best diet is the one that is suitable for your case. Most include limiting carbs and overall calorie intake. As a result, you can lose 20+ pounds, reversing the course of type 2 diabetes.
Why are these diets good? Here are some reference points:
- Losing weight ensures you don’t have excess fat in your liver and pancreas.
- Sugar levels drop, and you may not need medication or insulin.
- Pancreas’ beta cells may start releasing insulin again.
- It’s best to start early, as soon as you find out about the condition.
- You must always consult a doctor and receive a diet plan.
- It’s crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Foods to Eat
Here’s a list of the best foods for reversing type 2 diabetes:
- Fatty fish.
Salmon, herring, mackerel, etc., are rich in Omega-3 fatty acid kinds that improve your heart health. Fish also contains high amounts of protein and a low carb level, which is what you need on a diet.
- Leafy greens.
A wonderful source of vitamin C and minerals, these low-carb leaves can help you maintain your blood sugar level and not feel hungry. Antioxidants will also protect your eyes and heart.
Another perfect kind of food for type 2 diabetes patients. Avocados have very few carbohydrates and >1g of sugar. It’s also high in fiber and healthy fats. They not only help reverse diabetes but prevent it in healthy people.
- Chia seeds.
Low in carbs and very high in fiber, chia seeds make you feel satisfied for a very long time and don’t increase the levels of blood sugar. The food helps maintain the results of a diet for those with diabetes.
Beans are highly affordable (if you can’t eat chia seeds on a daily basis, for example). They also have a low glycemic index, which is what you should look for to reverse type 2 diabetes.
Keeping you full and reducing risks of heart diseases, eggs should be a part of your diet. Make sure to eat whole eggs.
- Greek yogurt.
This product is a wonderful dairy choice for people with type 2 diabetes and everyone trying to manage weight.
Filled with nutrients and healthy fats, nuts will help you feel full for a longer time and manage blood sugar levels.
Foods to Avoid
There are many foods to avoid if you have type 2 diabetes, but here are the most dangerous options:
- sweet soda drinks;
- flavored yogurt;
- white bread;
- trans fats;
- breakfast cereals with sugar;
- sweet caffeine beverages;
- dried fruit;
- snacks high in sugar (always read the label);
- maple syrup;
- french fries;
- fruit juice (even natural).
Other Ways to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes
When nothing seems to help, there’s only one way left to reverse type 2 diabetes, which is surgery.
Research shows that bariatric surgery can help you reduce the effect of type 2 diabetes. The results last long-term, but consider trying less serious treatments beforehand like a healthy lifestyle and lowering calorie and carb intake.
This surgery is suitable for patients with a BMI of 35+.
The purpose of bariatric surgery is to change your stomach and the rest of the digestive system to only be able to take limited amounts of food. Other theories suggest that there’s another benefit of the operation – hormone adjustment, which improves glucose levels in your blood.
It’s estimated that ¾+ of people succeeded in reversing type 2 diabetes due to the surgery. Long-term results are worse with gastric banding than with sleeve gastrectomy (reduction of your stomach).
The results show that it’s better to perform the surgery if the patient doesn’t use insulin and suffers from the condition for <5 years.
What Doesn’t Work
We’ve cleared up how you can reverse type 2 diabetes. However, there are many other ways that are highly promoted but not effective. Remember, there’s no magic pill or procedure that will cure you overnight.
The FDA recommends avoiding the following ways of reducing the effects of the condition:
- Over-the-counter drugs that have not proved their effectiveness.
- Dietary supplements.
- Homeopathic treatments.
- Alternative medicine treatments.
- Prescription drugs, not assigned by your doctor.
Many bottles that say “all-natural” actually contain medication that can disrupt the effect of the drugs you already take.
How Long Does It Take to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes?
Now that we know that type 2 diabetes is reversible, the most frequent question is, “How long does it take?”
This depends on your case and the way you choose. The results may show in a month or even within a week. Some people need to persist for half a year to notice improvements.
As to the results’ terms, from several months to years, you can feel diabetes-free. This may be the case only if you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Can Type 2 Diabetes Be Reversed Permanently?
Can diabetes (type 2) be reversed permanently? No. This isn’t a short-term infection or illness; it’s a condition that will go on your whole life, changing the intensity, depending on how you treat it.
Even after a strict diet and surgery, in several years the symptoms may come back. That’s why it’s so important to keep in touch with your doctor, do regular screenings and eat healthy food.
A long-term reversal will feel like you have cured the condition, which is good news. It’s considered a remission. You can live without constant surgeries and medications for years.