While diet and exercise can help tamp down blood sugar levels and dial back the need for certain medications, a cure for Type 2 diabetes isn't so straightforward.
WHY IS IT SO COMPLICATED?
"At this time, evidence does not demonstrate that Type 2 diabetes can be cured," says
Before you were diagnosed with diabetes, you likely had blood sugar levels in the prediabetes range for a few years, even if you weren't diagnosed with prediabetes. Both disorders are characterized by a combination of insulin resistance and loss of insulin-making ability. It's a double whammy with some cells in the body refusing to use insulin properly and the beta-cells of the pancreas unable to produce enough insulin to make up for this resistance. The longer you've had diabetes, the more likely you'll need medications because of loss of insulin-producing capacity.
TAKE ACTION TODAY
Your best chance for a lasting reversal is to take action early, explains
1. Lose weight if overweight. Dropping even a few pounds boosts your body's insulin sensitivity. One study found that losing as little as 5 percent of body weight (10 pounds for someone starting at 200 pounds) improved insulin sensitivity in the fat, muscle and liver cells and even improved the body's ability to secrete insulin. As weight loss continued, these benefits became greater.
2. Walk, bike, swim. Exercise reduces insulin resistance for two to 48 hours! The
3. Lift weights. Pump iron or lift your own body weight. Strength training is at least as important as aerobic activity, says
4. Reduce sedentary time. Even regular exercisers should avoid prolonged periods of sitting, which is also linked to heart disease. The
5. Eat well. People with Type 2 diabetes often experiment with a range of eating patterns, but not all plans are based on wholesome foods. A ketogenic diet provides only about 5 percent of calories from carbohydrate and about 80 percent from fat. Emerging research suggests that a 10-week ketogenic diet can improve blood sugar levels and reduce medication needs, says Palinski-Wade. However, the diet lacks many health-boosting foods. The
Finally, a Mediterranean-style diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, olive oil, nuts, fish and whole grains, is moderate in carbohydrate content. A meta-analysis of nine studies finds a Mediterranean-style diet superior at blood sugar management compared to control diets.