Is Diabetes Reversible?

Is Diabetes Reversible?

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with diabetes, you may have come across anecdotal stories about people putting their diabetes into remission, reducing their need for medication, or eliminating their need for medication altogether. 

Of course, there are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is unlikely to be put in remission, as it's caused by permanent damage to the beta cells in the pancreas. 

The beta cells in your pancreas are responsible for making insulin and keeping your blood sugar levels within a healthy range. In type 2 diabetes, the beta cells in the pancreas still produce insulin, but the insulin produced isn’t as effective at keeping blood sugar under control. 

Type 2 diabetes is linked to obesity and consuming a diet high in refined carbohydrates, while type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune response that begins during childhood. 

Below, we asked our experts at Bethel Family Medicine to explain the circumstances under which diabetes can be put into remission.

Putting diabetes into remission 

With the right combination of lifestyle changes and sometimes medications, diabetics can have near normal or normal blood sugar readings. However, this doesn't mean they’re cured. 

If these diabetics would return to their old lifestyle, their blood sugar levels would likely go up again. Let’s look at some of the ways diabetics can put their disease into remission. 

Losing weight and increasing muscle mass 

For some patients who are obese, losing a significant amount of weight can put their diabetes into remission. This can happen either due to maintaining a caloric deficit, reducing the amount of sugar in their diets, or undergoing weight loss surgery. 

However, type 2 diabetes isn't always linked to being overweight or obese. Slim people can also develop it. Even if someone looks slim on the outside, that doesn't necessarily mean they have a low body fat percentage on the inside. 

Some people — due to a diet low in protein and high in sugar, and a sedentary lifestyle — can be slim but have very little muscle mass. Also, their body may store their fat on the inside, next to their organs. 

Metabolically obese normal weight is the term used to describe those who have fat stored on their organs despite having a normal body mass index.

If you suspect you are metabolically obese yet at a normal weight, the first steps you could take are to become more active, eat a diet higher in protein, and increase your muscle mass. 

Using low-carb diets as a therapeutic approach to diabetes 

Since carbohydrates are the only macronutrient that elevates blood sugar levels, lowering them can have an immediate effect on your blood sugar levels.

Low-carb diets include any diets that hold carbohydrate consumption under 130 grams per day. However, people have different tolerances to glucose, which means some people may need to consume even fewer carbohydrates to see a significant change in their blood sugar levels. 

A study that looked at the effects of a low carbohydrate diet over the course of six months found that diabetes can be put into remission without any adverse effects as a consequence of diet change.

Learning more about diabetes management 

Diabetes is a condition that’s greatly impacted by lifestyle choices. Contact us to schedule an appointment at our clinic in Brockton, Massachusetts, and find out what changes you can make to live a longer and healthier life with diabetes.

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