Health Topics

Healthy Living

October 2010
Can We Reverse Type 2 Diabetes?
Dr. G.R. Ravi
A simple lifestyle modification brings about dramatic changes in the management your diabetes.

Yes. Even though Type 1 diabetes is not reversible or preventable (as it is an autoimmune disease), there are ways to reverse, delay or even prevent the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, at least in newly detected diabetic patients. Before developing Type 2 diabetes, many people have what's known as pre-diabetes, where blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not so high as to be classified as diabetes. This condition is very much reversible in most of the people

How is it possible?
The alarming increase in the worldwide prevalence of Type 2 diabetes appears to be mainly related to excess weight and obesity. 80 percent of people with Type 2 diabetes are either overweight or obese. Each kilogram increase in weight increases the risk of diabetes by almost 5 percent.
The clinical experience and various studies have time and again proved, that weight reduction by lifestyle modifications like exercise or walking, along with optimal diet, are highly effective in reversing or even preventing the Type 2 diabetes in at least 50 percent of patients. Reversing diabetes may not be that easy in all diabetic patients, but it should be tried.
The traditional management of Type 2 diabetes has been ineffective in altering the progress of the disease and its complications, because efforts have focused solely on lowering glucose levels, which is only one manifestation of the disease. If possible, it is better to get rid of diabetes rather than live with it.

Is there any medicine or surgery to cure diabetes?
There is no magic pill to get rid of diabetes. The reversal involves commitment on our part, and a lifestyle change that we will have to adapt for the rest of our life. Even after the reversal, diabetes may come back, if we relax a little bit. A gastric surgery called bariatric surgery has been found to effectively reverse Type 2 diabetes in morbidly obese patients, sometimes within weeks or even days, well before these patients have lost a significant amount of body weight.

The Way Out
A simple lifestyle modification brings about dramatic changes in the management of your diabetes. Even if this is not strictly about reversing diabetes, this will help you optimise the effect of the medicines and minimise the doses.

Choose a healthy and balanced diet. Minimise the calorie intake to reduce your body weight. Avoid all processed foods, saturated and trans-fats. Avoid eating three big meals a day and try four to six smaller meals throughout the day. This will help with your metabolism and balance your body's sugar levels.

Start exercising 30 minutes day, at least five days in a week. The regular exercise can cut down the progression of diabetes, and even reverse its effects. Exercising also helps your body use medications more efficiently and helps control your cholesterol and blood pressure as well.

Minimise stress in your life. Consider practicing yoga or meditation on a regular basis.

Dr. G. R. Ravi is Consultant Diabetologist at Apollo FirstMed Hosptials, Chennai

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