Is it Possible to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes? - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on November 03, 2015

Is it Possible to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes?

Type 2 Diabetes

Certain lifestyle changes are crucial in managing
or even reversing the effects of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes, or adult onset diabetes, develops when the body becomes resistant to insulin or when the pancreas stops producing enough insulin. Unlike people with type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes produce insulin, however the pancreas doesn’t secrete enough of it, or the body isn’t able to recognize insulin and use it properly.

In a healthy person, the pancreas releases insulin to help the body store and use the sugar from the food you eat. However, when there isn’t enough insulin or the body doesn’t use it properly, glucose, or sugar, can’t get to the body’s cells and it builds up in the bloodstream. When this happens, it causes damage to the body and cells don’t get the glucose they need, causing them to function improperly.

Exactly why this happens isn’t known, but genetics and environmental factors play a role. Although you have no control over your genetics, you do have control over environmental factors, which include weight and physical activity level.

Although not everyone with type 2 diabetes is overweight, obesity and a lack of physical activity are two of the most common causes. In fact, you can have a genetic mutation that may make you susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes, but if you take good care of your body, you may not develop the condition. Similarly, if a person with this genetic mutation is overweight, inactive and doesn’t watch their cholesterol level, they are much more likely to develop this condition – demonstrating how much an influence lifestyle choices have on how well your body uses insulin.

So, if poor lifestyle choices can lead to type 2 diabetes, does that mean that changing unhealthy habits into healthy ones can essentially reverse the condition?

The answer is “maybe.”

While certain lifestyle changes are crucial in managing diabetes, whether you can reverse the condition to the point where it’s like you never had it is a different matter. Being able to do this depends on how long you’ve had type 2 diabetes and how severe it is, as well as your genetics.

First of all, you need to understand what reversing the condition means—“reversal” is a term used when people can go off medication, but must still engage in and maintain a lifestyle program to stay off of those medications.

Losing excess weight and keeping it off can help you better control your blood sugar levels. By reaching a healthier weight, some people will be able to take fewer medications or, in rare occasions, no longer need them at all. By losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight and getting up to 150 minutes of exercise per week, you may help slow or stop the progression of type 2 diabetes.

Exercise and physical activity lower blood sugar. That means it’s important to check your blood sugar level before working out – you may need a snack to prevent low blood sugar if you take medications that lower your blood sugar.

Combining exercises may help you control blood sugar more effectively than engaging in one type of exercise alone. For instance, combine aerobic exercises like walking or dancing with resistance training, such as weightlifting or yoga throughout the week.

If you make changes to your diet and exercise routine, it’s possible your diabetes won’t improve or be “reversed.” But just because you have made these changes and haven’t reversed your condition doesn’t mean they didn’t make a difference – your weight and diet are important factors in your overall health.

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