If you suffer from type 2 diabetes, a disease in which the body doesn’t properly use insulin, being able to somehow reverse the condition may sound like a medical miracle.
But it’s a miracle that some physicians and researchers contend is possible under the right circumstances. In fact, doctors have begun to be enthusiastic about a patient’s ability to make type 2 diabetes disappear. If patients lose enough weight, it diabetes appears to go away. It can come back if you don’t have the resolution to stick with it, but you can make it go away with good diet and exercise.
And while some physicians and researchers feel that words like “reversed” or “cured” overstate the case for optimism, they do acknowledge that diabetes can be managed to reduce long-term health risks.
Many doctors feel that it does not go away, but it can be totally controlled.
Cause and effect
Controlling diabetes is particularly important because diabetics are at increased risk of heart attack and stroke, kidney damage, blindness and other serious ailments. Skin conditions, such as bacterial and fungal infections, can be among the first symptoms of the disease, and they are sometimes the telltale sign for people who have not yet been diagnosed.
Although the American Diabetes Association notes that the cause of the disease is unknown, research released from St. Louis University isolated a gene that may process fat differently, possibly increasing the risk for diabetes. Family history, obesity and lack of exercise can also be contributing factors, according to the ADA.
Reducing the risk
You can’t do anything about your family history, but you can do something about many of the risk factors that contribute to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis:
- Lose weight. If you’re in the majority of diabetes patients for whom being overweight is an issue, the first step is to lose 5 to 10 percent of your weight. It may not seem like much, but even that small amount can have a significant impact on the symptoms from which diabetics suffer.
- Exercise. Exercise is a benefit unto itself, not just as a means to an end, because it also helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases associated with uncontrolled diabetes.
- Look at what you eat. Diabetics should examine the total carbohydrates they eat, not just the sugars. The good news is that once you are diagnosed with diabetes, it doesn’t mean you have to forgo ice cream for the rest of your life. Favorite sweets can be worked into a healthy diet in moderation. Many doctors advise paying particular attention to carbohydrates that have a high glycemic index and cause spikes in blood sugar, such as white bread. High-fiber fruits and bran cereals have low glycemic indexes and may even help prevent type 2 diabetes. A nutritionist can help you sort out which carbohydrates are best for you.
- Eat fiber. The more fiber the better, because high fiber intake can help with controlling blood sugar.
- Get the whole family in on the process. Because genetics play a role in diabetes, having everyone in the family eat right and exercise is a smart preventative measure. And it’s easier to eat right if everyone in the family is doing it, with no tempting sweets and snacks around the house.