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Can Healthy Eating Reverse Type 2 Diabetes?

You may have heard discussions over whether it is possible to reverse Type 2 diabetes. When people reference diabetes reversal or cure, what they are really talking about is remission.

The reason it is called remission is because as yet there is not a cure for diabetes. So, what this means is that it is possible to reach the point where you can control your diabetes without medication*. In essence a healthy lifestyle can help to keep your Type 2 diabetes at bay. Therefore, if you return to your previous lifestyle, your symptoms may return, and you will need to resume taking medication.

How can I try to put my diabetes into remission?

Although remission isn’t possible for everyone, significant weight loss in those who are overweight or obese is believed to be effective in sending Type 2 diabetes into remission. A 2018 study, where participants were helped to lose 15kg or more, found “at 12 months, almost half of participants achieved remission to a non-diabetic state and off antidiabetic drugs”[1]. The conclusion drawn from this study is that losing weight reduces fat build up in vital organs.

The earlier you start making healthy lifestyle changes, the better.

  • Eating healthily- reducing the number of calories consumed and ensuring that calories are coming from healthy foods such as vegetables, fruit, high fibre foods and whole grains. You may benefit from visiting a dietician who could create a plan and give advice on your individual needs. It may also be worthwhile to speak to your GP as an initial option.
  • Losing weight- as you lose external fat, you will also be losing internal fat and importantly (in the case of diabetes) the fat sitting inside the liver and pancreas. These organs stabilise insulin production and ensure that the insulin produced, works correctly to manage blood sugar levels.
  • Regular exercise- it is recommended that adults undertake at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week

What are the benefits of diabetes remission?

  • Fewer medical complications
  • Improved sexual function
  • Removes need for diabetes medication
  • Feeling healthier and less fatigued
  • Improved pregnancy health

While for some people it is possible to achieve remission, for others it is not. It is important to remember this and not compare your journey to that of someone else.

If you are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes you could be eligible for the NHS’ free diabetes prevention programmes. During this programme you will be helped to lead a healthier life and lose weight to reduce your risk of developing the disease.

If you are worried about how your weight might be impacting on your health, we run a free Manage Your Weight programme to help you lose weight in a safe and sustainable way. If you would like to get a bit fitter, we also run free exercise classes; simply sign up to Move More to start.

*Do not withdraw from taking any medication without first consulting with your GP.

[1] https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(17)33102-1.pdf