For decades people with diabetes have been told that their condition is permanent and that the only way to handle the disease is to depend on an ever-expanding regimen of pharmaceutical products along with increasing exercise and specific dietary recommendations.
Some diabetes researchers now talk about reversing the damaging effects of diabetes. Note that the word used is reversing, and not curing.
It is definitely true that many individuals can in effect turn back the clock in regards to the effects of diabetes by following specific recommendations.
Before reading any further realize that every patient is different and that Type 2 diabetes is a complicated disorder. The information in this article is generalized and not intended to provide medical advice or diagnosis for anyone.
The good news is that for many people that are now dealing with Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes, it is possible to reverse the disease. Reversing the disease means that it may be possible for people to see normal blood sugar, return to normal A1c levels and reduce or eliminate diabetes medication.
IMPORTANT: Nothing in this article is intended to suggest that any individual reduce or eliminate diabetes or other medications without the supervision of their doctor. Although many individuals have followed steps such as those presented here successfully and been able to discontinue their medications, this is unsafe to do without the guidance of your doctor.
In our office we have seen several patients successfully reverse their diabetes to the point that their doctor eliminated their medication. This was because they were able to attain normal levels of blood glucose and A1c through dietary and lifestyle changes. In each case their doctor was enthusiastically supportive of their positive health changes.
In many cases, patients will be counseled to address their eating habits before anything else. Depending upon the individual, this may mean a simple reduction in the number of calories consumed or it may mean changing the types of foods that are eaten.
A very successful approach growing in popularity involves shifting to a diet low in carbohydrates. This is in direct contrast to the focus on low-fat that has been the primary approach used by many dieticians and other health professionals for years when dealing with diabetes.
A confused patient asked me about this contrast of opinions recently. My answer was along the lines of “How is the low fat approach working for you? If you are gaining weight and taking more medications then it may be time to think about other options.”
Many people have been frustrated because they feel that in spite of what they have tried they continue to gain weight and become less healthy. In those cases I often recommend a new assessment, and perhaps a new approach such as low carb eating plan which may actually involve eating more fat.
In addition to helping lose weight, the low carb plans have proven to be successful in helping patients lower their blood glucose level more quickly than the low fat approach.
Although the low carb approach is becoming more widely accepted, some doctors and other healthcare professionals remain opposed to the approach. Every year more studies point out that low carb diets yield very positive results for diabetics, so the popularity of the approach is growing.
In my own work with patients I try to help them determine what approach they can be most successful with. Every patient is unique, so it is important to determine which approach is best for the individual.
Choosing a plan that will help a patient lose weight long-term is often a primary objective. In many cases, losing as little as 5-10% body weight may dramatically change blood glucose levels enough to reduce medication.
Exercise or physical activity is also helpful in reversing diabetes. For many patients I have found that individual coaching on specific exercises and activities can be very beneficial.
For some patients, it is necessary to help resolve painful joints before they can reasonably be expected to increase exercise. Sometimes this is one of the most important applications of acupuncture and chiropractic care in helping manage patients with diabetes.
If you or someone you know has Type 2 diabetes or is pre-diabetic, take heart in realizing that your future health is in your hands. Making the effort to change your habits now may result in a longer, healthier life.