Everyone must have heard the term “Diabetes” at some point, maybe someone in your family has it and is on medications for it.
What makes it so bad that people need to be on medication for it and the big question “can you reverse type 2 diabetes”?
Before going into that we need to understand the anatomy and the metabolism of the body.
Whenever we eat something, Let’s say for example you had a sandwich, The body breaks down the carbs from the bread into glucose then that glucose gets absorbed into the bloodstream so that it can be used as a nutrient for the billions of hungry cells in the body. This is where insulin comes into play.
Insulin is a hormone made by the beta cells of the pancreas, It basically known as the storage hormone, It secreted from the pancreas into the bloodstream, it takes the glucose and delivers it to the cells of the body, It acts as a key without which the cells receptors won’t absorb any nutrients from the bloodstream
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Now coming to type 2 diabetes, it is a dietary illness in which the body’s ability to absorb glucose into the cells gets hampered.
it’s a serious condition caused by poor lifestyle choices over the years, including unhealthy diets, sedentary lifestyle, erratic emotional health.
In this condition, the pancreas is able to secrete insulin but the cells of your body stop responding to it which in turn leads to a condition known as insulin insensitivity.
This happens over the period of many years, where we keep up with our unhealthy food choices, consisting of refined sugars, sugary drinks, etc, every time you have a meal, insulin is required as a knock to the cells for them to absorb the nutrients from the food that you eat.
But overtime they stop responding to it which causes the unabsorbed glucose in your bloodstream leading to type 2 diabetes.
Because of this condition, the glucose stays accumulated in your bloodstream and the insulin isn’t functioning how it supposed to, the body gets a signal to produce more insulin since the glucose is not getting absorbed into the cells, and overtime when this happens the pancreas wear itself out and may even stop working altogether.
- Weight loss
- Weight gain
- Hampered immune system
- Excessive Thirst
Type 2 Diabetes and its Relation with Heart Disease
Since the body is unable to absorb the accumulated glucose in the bloodstream, the glucose, when remains there for a certain period of time can cause hardening of the arteries, which can lead to Atherosclerosis (Inflammation of the arteries), resulting in a heart attack or stroke.
For this same reason since the arteries will be hardening and getting narrowed overtime.
The demand for pumping blood from the heart will increase significantly leading to High blood pressure.
Heart disease, Hypertension, and Type 2 diabetes can be a lethal combination for the body if it’s left untreated for a long time.
Is Type 2 Diabetes reversible?
The answer is yes, there is ample evidence available to prove that type 2 diabetes can now be reversed by making lifestyle changes.
Keep in mind type 2 diabetes is a disease caused by poor dietary choices and lifestyle in the first place and it can only be reversed with correcting your eating habits itself.
The most common treatment for type 2 diabetes include glucose-lowering medications such as Metformin.
Medications are needed to keep your blood glucose under optimal levels, however to completely heal from this condition it takes time, discipline, and major lifestyle changes to reverse it without relying on medications everyday.
Medications is better suited to be used as a crutch while you fix the root cause of the disease, which led you being diagnosed as a diabetic in the first place.
Hence the solution to it lies with fixing your root cause which is your lifestyle, That includes exercise, sleep, and proper nutrition.
Lifestyle changes you can make to reverse type 2 diabetes
1. Physical activity
The body can only heal when there are changes in your daily life such as staying physically active, Try to get in a walk after every meal, if you cant do it after every meal try to do it at least after one meal and it will make a difference.
Our body isn’t designed to be sedentary, its meant to stay active, Although in the modern world with our desk jobs, it can be difficult but not impossible.
When you exercise, you increase the number of mitochondria (energy burning factory) in your cells. Which will allow your body to use up all the accumulated blood glucose better.
By exercising you not only improve your heart health but also the body’s ability to metabolize glucose in the form of muscles.
Maintaining optimal muscle mass ensures that you don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of carbs you eat, because the more muscles you have the better your body will be able to use up that blood glucose and store them in the form of glycogen in the muscles.
2. Eat wholesome foods
Cut down on that white rice, add more green leafy and fibrous food, Now this has two advantages.
Fiber can slow down the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, which helps in not spiking up your blood sugar.
Eating fibrous foods such as nuts, green leafy veggies activates the satiety signals in your small intestine, which means you feel fuller faster and don’t feel like eating anymore that you need to.
Ever wondered why we never feel full even after eating a whole bag of chips? Processed and sugary foods have minimal to no amount of fiber in them.
This is why you must eat your fruits and not make a juice of it every time, since when you juice your fruits, you strip it of its important fiber content.
But do remember, too much of anything is bad, just because fruits are healthy doesn’t mean we can keep on binging on it as well. Moderation is key.
3. Keep an eye on your stress level
It is inevitable for a person to feel stressed about something that’s going on in their lives, whether it is their job, financial problems, relationship troubles, etc. Stress is unavoidable, it’s going to hit you one way or the other.
Especially in a condition like Type 2 diabetes. However, what we can do is learn how to take stress rather than getting completely overwhelmed by it.
How do we do that? By being mindful, Meditation, expressing gratitude for the things you are grateful for in your life.
Take 10 minutes in your day, close your eyes, and simply be present. it won’t work overnight, its a gradual process, teaching a new habit to your brain can be hard because we are wired to follow a certain routine every day for years.
Hence we do it one day at a time till it’s nothing out of the ordinary for our brain and simply is another part of our daily lives.
Probably the most important one of all, When we are asleep, that’s when the repair and recovery and the healing of the body take place, Therefore it cannot be neglected, Try to get in at least 6-7 hours of quality sleep.
When the body is dealing with a chronic disease such as diabetes or hypertension, it constantly needs to heal, even a few hours of deducted sleep can make a huge difference. This is why we must allow our bodies to rest and recover every single day.
The above-stated lifestyle changes cannot work well if someone is doing one thing right and neglecting the others, it all works hand in hand together.
you can work out every day and not get proper rest, you cannot fix your sleep and not being active physically, you can be working out and be sleeping right yet you are stressed out by everyday problems, Hence they all work parallel with each other.
5. Implement periodic fasting
The main problem in a diabetic person is insulin resistance due to your blood glucose levels being high and not being able to get stored as energy in your cells.
This happens because over time the cell receptors which respond to insulin by opening up and taking in that glucose, stop responding to the usual amount of insulin released or stop responding at all.
Now all that insulin has to go somewhere, so the body converts the blood sugar into fat and stores them in front of your organs (belly fat) and as subcutaneous fat (fat under the skin).
When you don’t eat anything lets say for 12-16 hours, your blood glucose and your insulin levels go down which in turn improves body’s ability to use the available blood glucose and insulin sensitivity in diabetics.
For people who are under medications for type 2 diabetes, it is important to keep your doctor in the loop whenever you are trying out fasting, because your medications are responsible to bring your blood glucose levels down and when you are fasting at the same you might experience a big drop in your blood sugar.
Therefore, collaborating with your doctor and adjusting your medications will help in making sure that you don’t put yourself in any risk while fasting.
Getting diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is the not the end. Yes, you may need to be on medications, but do keep in mind ultimately its what you do next that determines whether you stay on that medication for life or only for a certain amount of time while you work on fixing the root cause.
The longer you rely completely on medications and do not take steps to improve other aspects of your lifestyle, the longer it will take for you to heal from your condition.
Doing the above mention things are the simplest steps you can take to begin the process of reversing type 2 diabetes.
However its important to keep your doctor in the loop, most likely they will work with you by tracking your progress, adjusting your medication and letting you know if what you are doing is moving towards the right direction or not.