Type 2 Diabetes

Reversing Type 2 Diabetes without Medication

Type 2 diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, was once thought to be irreversible. However new research has shown that in some cases, in can be put into remission.

It can be challenging and there is no guarantee but an increasing number of studies are showing that through significant weight loss and lifestyle changes, remission is possible.

How does a healthy diet and lifestyle affect diabetes?

Healthy diet and lifestyle most certainly have a profound impact on people with diabetes.

In fact, a study found that intensive and structured lifestyle modification resulting in a 5% body weight loss can reduce the risk of progressing from impaired fasting blood sugar (or insulin resistance) to type 2 diabetes by approximately 60%.

Another study looked at a large group of 3234 people with high fasting blood glucose levels and high postprandial blood sugar levels.

These subjects were randomly placed in one of three groups: placebo (control), metformin (at a dose of 850 mg twice daily), or a lifestyle modification program.

The lifestyle modification program involved a minimum of 7% body weight loss and at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. It also involved a low-calorie, low-fat diet. In the placebo group, the incidence of diabetes was 11%.

In the metformin group, the incidence of diabetes was 7.8%. And in the lifestyle intervention group? The incidence of diabetes was just 4.8%. This group reduced the incidence of diabetes by 58% compared to placebo, while the metformin-medicated group only reduced diabetes incidence by 31%.

Overall, this study found that these lifestyle modifications were significantly more effective than medication with metformin.

What does it take to reverse diabetes?

Honestly, it takes a lot of motivation, dedication, hard work, and perseverance to reverse diabetes. This is a difficult condition to get control of since it is so progressive in its nature.

Type 2 diabetes requires more and more oral blood glucose lowering medications and eventually may require insulin therapy as well. In order to stop this disease in its tracks, normal carbohydrate and fat metabolism must be restored.

Type 2 diabetes is closely related to the growth of fat on the internal organs and therefore getting rid of this fat is what is really necessary to help reverse diabetes.

The amount of weight that needs to be lost in order to reverse diabetes is actually much more than was conventionally believed to be necessary. One study demonstrated that a loss of 20% body weight was associated with long-term remission in 73% of patients with type 2 diabetes.

It is also worth noting that people with a “healthy” BMI can still develop diabetes. They tend to have a high body fat percentage without being obese.

People with this body type need to improve their body composition through resistance exercise. People with greater muscle mass and lower body fat have greater insulin sensitivity.

Another study found that by changing the diet, patients newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were able to lose 15 kg of weight, which allowed for reversal of their diabetes.

Many studies have been done looking at bariatric surgery for weight loss and its effects on reversing diabetes. Though this is a method that has shown to be effective, individuals that are strongly motivated to change their lifestyle and eating habits can most certainly lose a substantial amount of weight by decreasing their food consumption.

That initial weight loss that is necessary to help reverse diabetes requires reducing caloric intake substantially. Once this initial weight loss has been achieved, weight is often maintained through a combination of caloric restriction as well as physical activity.

Effective forms of physical activity can be aerobic exercise and/or resistance training. Some patients like to use the ketogenic diet and lifestyle to lose weight, while others prefer a plant-based diet.

There is also a whole spectrum of other options in between. Whichever diet or exercise type the patient chooses, the most important thing is that the patient is dedicated to this healthy lifestyle and a new regimen.


For more information on a diabetic diet click here.


How can type 2 diabetes be cured?

Type 2 diabetes has been known for a long time as a progressive disease. Even with medication to help lower glucose levels, the disease often continues to progress. 50% of patients require insulin therapy within ten years of a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

Since there is such deterioration in glucose control, type 2 diabetes is known in the medical community as being both treatable and reversible, though not necessarily curable.

Challenges in reversing diabetes

Reversing diabetes is not easy. This is because a reasonably substantial weight loss needs to occur. In order for a significant weight loss to happen, the diet needs to be somewhat calorie restricted.

Once this weight loss has been achieved, the hard part is only just beginning. This is because the initial weight loss needs to be maintained. This is usually achieved through physical activity.

For those who have developed type 2 diabetes, a calorie restrictive diet and regular physical activity are usually not part of their daily habits.

Significant diet and lifestyle changes need to be made. In order to make these changes, you need to be motivated, and you will have to work hard.

In order to return to normal liver insulin sensitivity levels, you will need to reduce liver fat content. Type 2 diabetes can be frustrating because it can continue to progress despite treatment with medications to lower blood glucose levels.

There are many obstacles to overcome, including: insulin signaling defects, glucose transporter defects, lipotoxicity (toxicity of fat within the body), beta-cell dysfunction (which is dysfunction of the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas due to amyloid protein being deposited in pancreatic cells called islets), oxidative stress, excess fatty acids, and lack of incretin effect.

These changes do not happen overnight, so you will need to be patient as well. Results may not show up right away, but that does not mean that popositive changes are not occurring within your body. The reward is not immediate, but it is worth it.

How does the immune system function affect diabetes reversal?

Researchers have found that insulin resistance is linked to high levels of cytokines in the body. Cytokines are released as a response to inflammation. In response to inflammation, the immune system leads to fat cells being unable to respond properly to insulin.

This leads to fat cells releasing their fatty acids into the blood. This then leads to higher levels of cholesterol, which is associated with a higher risk of heart disease and proliferative diabetic retinopathy.

How long does it take to reverse diabetes?

Fasting blood sugar levels have been known to normalize within seven days after establishing a negative calorie balance in the body. It does not matter whether this change is initiated by bariatric surgery or through dietary changes (ketogenic diet, plant-based diet, etc.).

Either way, fasting plasma glucose levels can go back to normal levels within one week. This occurs because there is actually quite a substantial decrease in liver fat content when there is a caloric deficit in the body. This helps with normalization of liver insulin sensitivity.

Over a span of eight weeks, the first phase and maximal rates of insulin secretion slowly but surely return to normal. This happens alongside steadily decreasing fat content in the pancreas.

Natural ways to reverse diabetes

Many studies have been done looking at various diets and their impact on type 2 diabetes. High protein diets have been shown to help prevent and reverse diabetes, as have vegetarian and plant-based diets.

The DASH diet (which is an acronym that stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) has also been proven to be beneficial in the prevention and reversal of type 2 diabetes.

Other diets that simply emphasize the consumption of certain foods, such as dietary pulses or nuts, are helpful as well.

One diet in particular that emphasized the consumption of whole fruits, specifically blueberries, grapes, and apples, was found to be significantly associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Preliminary research has shown that intermittent fasting may have benefit as well.

A fair amount of research has looked into the Mediterranean diet (a diet that focuses on the consumption of whole foods and healthy fatty acids) and its impact on diabetes prevention and reversal.

One study, in particular, looked at the effects of this diet and compared it to the need for medications to lower blood sugar levels. This study was performed with patients who were newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

After four years, 44% of patients in the Mediterranean diet group and 70% in the low-fat diet group required treatment for diabetes. Those in the Mediterranean diet group lost more weight and saw greater improvements in blood glucose control as well as coronary heart disease risk measures than the low-fat diet group.

What are the best natural remedies for diabetes?

The best natural remedies for diabetes include curcumin as well as other antioxidants (such as vitamin A and vitamin E, for example).

Another effective natural remedy for diabetes is a probiotic, as well as fructooligosaccharides (or FOS, for short). FOS is found in fiber-containing foods and feed the probiotics in our guts. Another great remedy for diabetes is vitamin C.

How does exercise factor in diabetes reversal?

Regular physical activity has been shown through research to lead to a 39-70% lower risk of cardiovascular-related death as well as a lower risk of death overall after 15 to 20 years’ follow up.

Exercise also helps to slow the development of peripheral neuropathy, which is a major problem in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Resistance training specifically, has been shown through research to improve glycemic control, decrease insulin resistance, increase muscle strength, increase lean muscle mass, and even increase bone mineral density.

Yoga is another type of exercise that can actually lead to reductions in HbA1c, fasting glucose, and total cholesterol levels. It can also lead to increases in high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol) levels, which is no easy feat.

Overall, exercise can lead to weight loss, improve glycemic control, and lead to significant reductions in HbA1c, blood pressure, body mass index, waist circumference, and estimated ten-year cardiac risk.

Exercise is great for increasing aerobic fitness, building muscle strength, improving insulin sensitivity, and increasing levels of good cholesterol.


For more information on how to naturally boost insulin sensitivity, click here.


Best supplements for reversing diabetes

Having high blood sugar levels generates oxidative stress, which then hinders the regeneration of beta cells in the pancreas.

In one study, mice with diabetes mellitus were treated with curcumin. This significantly reversed high blood glucose levels, glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, and damage of the pancreatic islets.

Curcumin was able to stop pancreatic lipid peroxidation, upregulate activities of antioxidants, and suppress levels of inflammatory markers.

Curcumin was able to use its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory superpowers to actually regenerate the pancreas and restore its functions and insulin sensitivity.

It has been reported that altered intestinal microbiota and endotoxemia can have adverse effects on those with diabetes. One study treated diabetic mice with probiotics and FOS. They found that this reversed dysbiosis restored antibacterial protein, and lowered levels of endotoxins in the gut.

One study looked at vitamin C supplementation. What this study found, in particular, is that vitamin C can reverse diabetes-induced endothelial cell dysfunction in mesenteric microcirculation.

Taking these in combination with a healthy diet (such as the ketogenic diet) and lifestyle changes can help these supplements reverse diabetes.

Taking into account all the information listed above, the best supplements for reversing diabetes are curcumin, alpha-lipoic acid, probiotics, and vitamin C.

What makes a supplement a good choice for reversing diabetes?

The best supplements for reversing diabetes have a broad spectrum of nutrients. You want to make sure there is a clinically significant dose of the key ingredients.

You also want high-quality ingredients. You definitely want to be putting natural ingredients into your body. After all, that is likely one of the reasons you turned to a supplement (rather than a pharmaceutical drug) in the first place.

But guess what? An ingredient, even in its ideal dose, is useless if it is not in the right form! You want a highly bioavailable form of each supplement ingredient. This way, your body will actually absorb what you are putting into it.

Not only are you getting more benefit from a highly bioavailable product, but you are actually getting more bang for your buck. You will need less of the product to have more of a therapeutic effect.

When you are shopping around for diabetes reversal supplements, you’ll want to make sure you get a product that contains ingredients that have been scientifically proven to have clear benefits specifically for diabetes.

If you have gestational diabetes, you’ll want to get a supplement that is proven to be safe in pregnancy.

Transparency is important. You want to know what you are getting when you spend your hard-earned money on a diabetes reversal supplement. This is why you want to get your product from a company that provides clear information about their laboratory testing.

You also want a supplement from a company that complies with government groups, such as the Food and Drug Administration (the FDA). You want to see that they clearly list their ingredients. As much as you want transparency when it comes to laboratory testing, it is equally important to have transparency in labeling.

Have a look at customer ratings. You want to make sure you get a product that is highly rated. It is always nice to see when a company uses third-party software to make sure that reviews only come from actual customers. You also want to obtain a diabetes reversal supplement from a company that provides excellent customer service and has a money back guarantee.

Compliance, compliance, compliance. This is how a supplement company ensures quality. You will want to keep an eye out for supplements that are manufactured within the United States. If the company uses Food and Drug Administration-audited facilities for their manufacture, then that is even better.

Sources

  1. Canadian Diabetes Association. (2013). Key messages. Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Prevention and Management of Diabetes in Canada. 37 (1), 1.
  2. Chung, PH; Wu, YY; Chen, PH; Fung, CP; Hsu, CM; Chen, LW. (2016). Lactobacillus salivarius reverse diabetes-induced intestinal defense impairment in mice through non-defensin protein. J Nutr Biochem. 35 (1), 48-57.
  3. El-Azab, MF; Attia, FM; El-Mowafy, AM. (2011). Novel role of curcumin combined with bone marrow transplantation in reversing experimental diabetes: Effects on pancreatic islet regeneration, oxidative stress, and inflammatory cytokines. Eur J Pharmacol. 1 (658), 41-48.
  4. Esposito, K; Maiorino, MI; Ciotola, M; Di Palo, C; Spognamiglio, P; Giochino, M; Petrizzo, M; Saccomanno, F; Beneduce, F; Ceriello, A; Giugliano, D. (2009). Effects of a Mediterranean-style diet on the need for antihyperglycemic drug therapy in patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 1 (51), 306-314.
  5. Knowler, WC; Barrett-Connor, E; Fowler, SE; Hamman, RF; Lachin, JM; Walker, EA; Nathan, DM; Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. (2002). Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin. N Engl J Med. 7 (346), 393-403.
  6. Muraki, I; Imamura, F; Manson, JE; Hu, FB; Willett, WC; van Dam, RM; Sun, Q.. (2013). Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies. BMJ. 28 (1), 347.
  7. Sridulyakul, P; Chakraphan, D; Patumraj, S. (2006). Vitamin C supplementation could reverse diabetes-induced endothelial cell dysfunction in mesenteric microcirculation in STZ-rats. Clin Hemorheol Microcirc. 34 (1-2), 315-321.
  8. Taylor, R. (2013). Type 2 Diabetes: Etiology and reversibility. Diabetes Care. 36 (4), 1047-1055.

About Our Author Dr. Corina Kinsey

Alternative Text
Dr. Corina is a naturopath in the GTA, working out of various locations of Triangle Physiotherapy. Dr. Corina struggled with digestive health for most of her life, to the point where she couldn’t remember what normal digestion felt like. It wasn’t until she discovered natural treatments for digestive problems that she was able to realize how strong and healthy she could really feel. Dr. Corina is now passionate about bringing this knowledge to others, so that they don’t have to suffer like she did. She wants to help people feel like the best version of themselves.

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