Type 2 diabetes is a serious, chronic disorder that, if left untreated, can become life-threatening. It affects over 30 million Americans and is the seventh leading cause of death in the USA. There is no known cure for diabetes, but making certain smart lifestyle changes can bring your blood sugar levels back down into the normal range. You cannot ‘reverse’ type 2 diabetes in the sense of curing it, but when you are able to lower and balance your blood sugar over the long-run, many people refer to that as ‘reversing your type 2 diabetes.’
What is type 2 diabetes and what is the definition of its reversal?
Type 2 diabetes (otherwise known as non-insulin dependent diabetes) is a chronic metabolic disorder where your pancreas either isn’t producing enough insulin (the hormone regulating the movement of sugar to the cells), or the insulin that it does produce isn’t working as it should. As such, the fuel that keeps us energized (sugar) builds up in the bloodstream, instead of flowing to power your vital organs. This unbalance of blood sugar levels is called hyperglycemia.
If you are able to get your HbA1c – the average blood sugar level over the course of two to three months, below 42 mmol/mol (6%) without taking diabetes medication, you can be considered in “diabetes remission.” If you can keep your HbA1c there, your type 2 diabetes… that’s when some people will consider your diabetes to be fully reversed.
Want to learn more about how to balance your glucose levels? Check out this blog post.
How you can ‘reverse’ your type 2 diabetes
In our last blog post, we discussed the factors that can cause the development of type 2 diabetes. And while you cannot eliminate a genetic predisposition to the disorder from your DNA, you can make changes to some of the lifestyle choices that put you at risk for type 2 diabetes in the first place: being overweight, not exercising and making poor nutritional choices.
Lose weight to improve your type 2 diabetes
Weight loss is the primary factor in the reversal of type 2 diabetes, as excess body fat directly correlates with the pancreas’ production of insulin and its efficacy in metabolizing sugar. This is most often seen in morbidly-obese people with diabetes who undergo procedures such as bariatric surgery to lose weight. However, when combined with regular exercise and better meal planning, as will be discussed below, weight loss can help you better control your blood sugar, even without having to take medication. Shedding a few pounds can help you shed the daily burden of type 2 diabetes.
Get moving to get reversing
Not only will exercising help you lose weight, but it will also get your cellular metabolism moving, which will help you better process the sugars you ingest. And when sugars don’t get stuck floating around your bloodstream, your blood glucose levels can balance out and you can kiss your elevated glucose levels goodbye.
Eat better to live better
Changing your diet might seem like a tall order, but if its result is the reversal of your type 2 diabetes, it just might be worth the effort. Here’s what you need to do:
- Reduce your daily caloric intake
- Consume foods with a lower glycemic index
- Ensure you eat the same amount of complex carbs at each meal
- Limit alcohol and sugar
- Introduce whole grains, healthy fats, lean protein, and fresh produce
- Drink lots of water
Losing 5% to 10% of your body weight, working out for up to 150 minutes a week and making smarter nutritional choices may help reverse your type 2 diabetes.
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