David is an army-trained biomedical scientific officer, writer, and lifelong health and fitness enthusiast.
How to Reverse Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is the fastest growing disease in the world today. And although it is often regarded as simply an inconvenience, diabetes is actually a very serious ailment that can cause all manner of long term health complications. However, it is possible to fully reverse diabetes, and restore yourself to full health, and in this article I'll explain how you can do that.
What Is Type 2 Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition that is characterized by chronically elevated blood sugar levels, and this is caused by your body's cells becoming resistant to insulin.
Insulin resistance occurs when the body's cells become inflamed and the insulin receptor sites get damaged. Insulin is then unable to do its job of transporting glucose into the cells properly, so you produce more insulin to try to compensate for this. This extra insulin, however, causes further insulin resistance, and this eventually leads to diabetes.
The reason your cells become inflamed and damaged in the first place is due primarily to poor dietary choices, but lack of exercise also plays a role. Dietary factors include the consumption of too much sugar, refined carbohydrates and toxic substances like alcohol, nicotine, artificial sweeteners, food additives and harmful fats such as refined oils and hydrogenated fats.
Weight gain further contributes to insulin resistance, especially where the weight gained is mostly in the abdominal area.
Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease and can lead to severe nerve and blood vessel damage due to the constantly elevated blood sugar and insulin levels. This can cause, among other things, impaired circulation, heart disease, damage to the eyes, liver and kidneys, and sexual dysfunction in males. However, provided your pancreas is still functioning, you can change all of this and reverse your diabetes if you do the following:
Eat The Proper Diet
Eating the right foods is the most important part of what it takes to reverse diabetes. You must cut out all sugar, including the healthier alternatives such as maple syrup and honey. And be sure to check all food packaging for added sugar too.
Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white pasta, pastries, puddings, biscuits and white rice also have to go. That’s because these break down into sugar very quickly when you eat them.
Complex carbohydrates, such as whole wheat bread, pasta and cereals, oatmeal, brown rice and sweet potatoes can be eaten, but only in moderation, as these too break down into sugar. And, although they do so much more slowly than refined carbohydrates, if you are diabetic you still don’t want to be eating too much of them.
So your diet should consist mostly of protein foods (meat and poultry, fish, eggs and cheese), fruit and vegetables, as well as some healthy fats from such foods as oily fish, avocados, nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil. These healthy fats are highly beneficial as they contain essential omega 3 and monounsaturated fatty acids which help reduce inflammation and repair damaged cells.
If you want to fully reverse diabetes, regular exercise is crucial. When you exercise, glucose is used for energy, which lowers blood glucose levels, and this in turn lowers insulin. Moderate exercise also helps to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation.
Any type of exercise will work, but ideally you should do both cardiovascular exercise and some sort of strength training if you want to see the best results.
Be sure to start off gently though, and don’t overdo it, as too much can do more harm than good, especially in the early stages. So start at a comfortable level, perhaps just going for a fairly brisk walk for 20 minutes or so each day, and gradually increase the intensity and/or duration as your fitness improves.
Most type 2 diabetics are overweight, and carrying too much body fat, particularly in the abdominal area, increases insulin resistance. So it's important to lose the excess fat if you want to get your diabetes under control.
Adopting the measures outlined above will help you lose weight of course, but for effective and sustained long-term weight reduction you need to ensure you eat at a calorie deficit long enough to achieve your desired weight, and then maintain it.
Use Some Proven Supplements
Although your diet is the most important factor in reversing diabetes, there are some supplements that can be highly beneficial as well, and these play an important part in the whole process of restoring yourself to full health.
Diabetics tend to be very nutritionally deficient, especially in minerals, so it's important to take a good quality multivitamin supplement to address this.
Chromium is especially important to diabetics due to its role in stabilizing blood sugar levels, so it's well worth taking additional amounts of this particular mineral.
Omega 3 fatty acids are also very important as these help reduce inflammation and heal damaged cells. And two other supplements that have been proven to help diabetics are Co-enzyme Q10 and alpha lipoic acid.
By taking these supplements you will be greatly aiding the healing and re-balancing process that needs to occur to reverse your diabetes and restore your health.
Address any Bad Habits
If you smoke, you really need to stop, as smoking is highly inflammatory. And you need to strictly limit your intake of alcohol too.
Also the amount of prescription drugs you are taking needs to be reduced, and you should stop them completely as soon as you can (only under your doctor’s supervision of course). By taking drugs you are simply adding more toxins to your body, which will only hinder your recovery.
The drugs your doctor prescribes will never cure you; they will only manage your symptoms while the underlying condition continues to get worse. Apart from that, prescription drugs have many side effects that will further compromise your health. So, if you ever want to be completely well you need to rid your body of them.
So now you know how to reverse diabetes using natural methods, which is in fact the only way to reverse it. If you follow the advice given here, depending on how severely affected you are, you should be able to make a full recovery within a few months to a year of getting started.
David (author) from Birmingham, UK on August 17, 2018:
It's difficult to give you specific advice when I don't really know what sort of condition you are in at the moment, but at your age you need to start a fitness program with caution. Go for a 20 minute brisk walk 5 or 6 days per week, and when you feel up to it, do a few minutes jogging at various points during your walk. Later on you could try a few short sprints a couple of times per week if you want.
Lift some weights two or three times per week, but if you have never lifted, or if you haven't lifted for a long time, you'll need to practice the movements first with an empty bar, or even no weight at all. Take a look at my article on training for older guys and if you have any more questions let me know. Best of luck.
Larry Chmiel on August 15, 2018:
I am diabetic type II and 76 years old. I tore down my deck and now building a new one. I am not a couch potato and am fairly strong. Exactly what kind of weight training and cardio should I do for my diabetes and to gain more strength. My doctor gave me the go ahead to do anything but not to exhaustion.
David (author) from Birmingham, UK on February 29, 2012:
Thanks Mardi. Yes, type 1 is more difficult. You certainly can't cure it, but diet and lifestyle changes as described will help somewhat.
Mardi Winder-Adams from Western Canada and Texas on February 29, 2012:
Great Hub with lots of information. Just wish that Type 1 Diabetes could also be controlled strictly with diet and lifestyle changes.