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Can Type 2 Diabetes Be Reversed?

<p>Can Type 2 Diabetes Be Reversed?</p>
Dr. Constance Odom, MD Picture of Dr. Constance Odom, MD

Medically reviewed by

Written by our editorial team.

Last Edited 6 min read

Throughout the United States, approximately 37.3 million people have a health condition known as diabetes. Another 96 million U.S. adults have prediabetes, which means that they are at an increased risk of developing the disease. Despite this, it is essential to note that there are two types of diabetes diagnoses and they require different courses of action. These are known as type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This is an important distinction as type 1 is typically diagnosed early in life, whereas type 2 diabetes develops over time. While type 1 diabetes is not reversible, it is possible to reverse type 2 diabetes and restore your body’s insulin production and regulation.

What’s the Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

Those that have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have likely heard from their doctors that the effects can be reversed by consuming certain foods and implementing lifestyle changes. Before pursuing this route, however, it is important to fully understand the condition and its effects on the body and overall health. The most confusing aspect for those who have recently been diagnosed is understanding the distinctions between the two types of diabetes as they are different in many ways and require different methods of treatment.

Type 1 diabetes is a condition where the body struggles to produce a hormone known as insulin. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and allows your body to turn sugar into energy. When there is no insulin or not enough, the sugar is unable to be transformed into energy and instead remains within the blood. This results in high blood sugar levels, which increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, excessive thirst, and hunger, among other undesirable symptoms. Type 1 diabetes is generally a genetic condition that is diagnosed in childhood. It is not linked to obesity and cannot be reversed.

Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is not genetic and is typically the result of poor lifestyle choices. While the risks of cardiac events, organ failure, and other symptoms are the same, those with type 2 diabetes do produce insulin on their own. Their body, however, does not respond to the insulin properly. This also means that too much sugar remains within the individual’s bloodstream. By losing weight, exercising, and choosing healthy foods, the condition can be reversed as these changes trigger the body to respond to the insulin produced more effectively.

Methods to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

If you've been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you have likely wished that the condition could be reversed so that you can live life without medications or constantly monitoring your blood sugar levels. There are several methods that you can use, including Ayurvedic medicines, certain diets, calorie restriction, and bariatric surgery. However, there may be certain risks associated with these methods and their effectiveness may be altered by other health conditions. Before attempting any new diet or exercise regimes, be sure to discuss the potential for any negative interactions, or side effects with your healthcare provider. Additionally, it is important to continue to take any prescribed medications for type 2 diabetes as directed by your doctor, even if you do incorporate healthier foods or exercise regimes into your daily routine.

Ayurvedic Medicines

The healthcare costs associated with type 2 diabetes are astronomical. According to research conducted by the American Diabetes Association, an individual with either form of diabetes can expect to shell out $16,750 on medical expenses each year. As a result, there is a growing demand for Ayurvedic medicines that can aid in reversing type 2 diabetes. So, what are they? Simply put, Ayurveda is an ancient practice of medicine that emphasizes diet and lifestyle. It aims to balance three Doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) while promoting overall good health. When Doshas are out of balance, it results in various diseases.

In Ayurveda, diabetes is considered to be a metabolic disorder, characterized by an imbalance in the functions of the body's digestive tract. If left untreated, it can lead to serious complications. For example, the condition can cause damage to the heart, blood vessels, and peripheral nerves. Although limited, a few Ayurveda studies have shown that these organic medicines can reduce blood glucose levels. Despite this, some patients have reported adverse side effects like gastrointestinal discomfort. There is also the potential for these natural medications to interact with others that a patient may be taking. Be sure to present the supplement to a doctor so that they are able to review the label and identify any risks or dangerous interactions before you begin to take it. 

Nutritional Ketosis “The Keto Diet”

Nutritional ketosis, better known as the Keto diet, is a diet that focuses on consuming little to no carbohydrates in an effort to force the body into a state known as ketosis. Ketosis is a state where your blood contains higher levels of ketones than usual and thus prompts the body to burn fat reserves instead of obtaining energy from carbs or blood sugar. This can lead to rapid weight loss as it also increases fat burning and reduces blood glucose levels. Achieving and maintaining a state of ketosis can also improve heart health and triglyceride levels. 

keto diet can reverse type 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity levels and prompting the body to respond more effectively to the insulin produced. While it is possible to reverse type 2 diabetes with a keto diet, it can be difficult to maintain. Therefore, you should work with a medical professional or nutritionist to develop a sustainable diet that can aid in continued fat-burning and weight loss.

Calorie-Restricted Diets

Calorie-restricted diets are one of the most popular approaches to dieting for weight loss in general and they are a practical method for those who are aiming to reverse type 2 diabetes. By following a low-calorie diet and incorporating a moderate exercise regime into their daily lives, many people with prediabetes have been able to escape the danger zone and those who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have been able to lower their blood sugar levels and eliminate the need for daily medications and continual blood sugar monitoring. 

Calorie restriction is a proven way to increase insulin sensitivity and improve islet function, but the results are usually only noticeable in the short term. To truly reverse your diabetes, you need to have a significant amount of weight loss that can be maintained over time. It cannot be a temporary change to your diet and lifestyle, because type 2 diabetes can return once again even after being initially reversed. 

A recent study compared the effects of a very low-calorie diet to the standard treatment for type 2 diabetes. The researchers discovered that a very low-calorie diet improved the glycemic control of obese patients by up to 40 percent. While the exact mechanisms underlying this effect remain unknown, researchers suspect that a low-calorie diet may help to reduce insulin resistance and glucose production by the liver.

Another study found that a very low-calorie diet combined with exercise was a good way to improve the lipid profile of people with type 2 diabetes. It also helped to reduce blood pressure and improve insulin resistance. Similarly, it decreased the circulating levels of leptin and inflammatory cytokines.

Despite the benefits of a low-calorie diet, the calorie restriction can become dangerous and there is a risk of malnourishment or nutritional deficiencies in those who follow them for extended periods of time. Likewise, very low-calorie restricted diets can be impractical in the long term. Because of these concerns, be sure to speak to your doctor before implementing a calorie-restricted diet. Your doctor will be able to provide specific recommendations on how many calories you can safely cut without suffering severe consequences. It may also be helpful to work with a nutritionist to develop a reasonable calorie-restricted diet that can be maintained indefinitely to help keep type 2 diabetes at bay.

Bariatric Surgery for Weight Loss

Bariatric surgery can be a life-changing treatment option for those who are designated as clinically or morbidly obese. This rings true for anyone who is struggling with obesity, but particularly for those who are also suffering from type 2 diabetes. Studies have shown that bariatric surgery can help people with type 2 diabetes lose a significant amount of weight in a relatively short period of time. 

Bariatric surgery can also improve the way the body regulates insulin. The procedure alters the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas and digestive system. This improves blood sugar regulation and reduces the use of oral antidiabetic agents. Usually, type 2 diabetes is able to be reversed within several months after surgery.

Bariatric surgery is usually performed on patients with type 2 diabetes who are severely obese. Although this method of treating obesity has its advantages, it does carry the highest risks of those associated with reversing type 2 diabetes. This is the case whenever surgery is involved as there is always the risk of things like infection, unexpected reactions during or immediately following surgery along with the risk of using general anesthesia to operate.

The risk level also depends on which of the two types of weight-loss procedures is utilized; whether gastric bypass or duodenal switch. Gastric bypass entails a laparoscopic surgical operation where a small pouch is created within the stomach. After the operation, the patient is instructed to eat only a few ounces of food at a time, allowing the body to feel fuller, and faster. This leads to rapid weight loss though many patients experience discomfort, nausea, and/or vomiting if they fail to abide by these dietary restrictions. Likewise, the results can be reversed if the diet is not followed over time. 

A duodenal switch, on the other hand, is a less common procedure. With this form of bariatric surgery, a surgeon removes 80 percent of the stomach. Afterward, the remaining portion forms into a small sleeve. Unlike the pouch created through a gastric bypass procedure, the sleeve can hold only two ounces of food.

Bariatric surgery is considered to be a last resort when it comes to reversing type 2 diabetes and should only be considered when other options have been tried and exhausted. Likewise, the patient must be healthy enough to undergo the surgery. If they are not, a doctor will likely refuse to operate and other options must be explored. 

Type 2 Diabetes Reversal Outcome 

By heeding this advice and exploring one of the most common methods to reverse type 2 diabetes, those suffering from the disease can regain control of their health and bodies. Despite this, it is important to remember that reversing this illness will not happen overnight and may not work in all cases. Because of this, you should speak to a doctor before instituting any major changes to your diabetic medications, management plan, diet, or exercise regime. Under the guidance of an expert medical team, it is possible to once again live a healthy life and prevent type 2 diabetes from returning. 



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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.