A few years ago, someone helping me on some office related matters was looking at some of the resource material I give my clients. She seemed surprised that I claimed that type 2 diabetes is a curable condition. A few days later, she proceeded to tell me that her husband, a physician, thought that what I said was impossible.
Well, not only is preventing diabetes, and reversing pre-diabetes possible, curing the full-fledged disease is quite doable too!
What is type 2 diabetes? How do we prevent and reverse this potentially devastating and debilitating illness?
3 types of diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, formerly called juvenile-onset diabetes, accounts for 5%–10% of all diabetes cases. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease where the body’s defense system mistakenly attacks the pancreatic islet beta cells that produce insulin totally depleting the body’s insulin secretions.
Formerly called adult-onset diabetes, type 2 diabetes, accounts for about 90% of diabetes cases. It is described as a condition of insulin resistance, which means the body is misusing the insulin the pancreas produces.
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a form of diabetes in which high blood glucose levels develop during pregnancy. It occurs once in every 25 pregnancies worldwide, with complications to both mother and baby. GDM usually disappears after pregnancy.
What causes type 2 diabetes?
Until recently, it was presumed that too much sugar was the cause of insulin resistance and subsequently type 2 diabetes. Now we know, through multiple studies and research, that the cause of type 2 diabetes is too much fat in the diet. Let me explain.
Insulin helps control blood glucose levels by signaling the liver, as well as muscle and fat cells, to take in glucose from the blood. Insulin therefore helps cells to take in glucose to be used for energy. If the body has sufficient energy, insulin signals the liver to take up glucose and store it as glycogen. Some cells in the body can take glucose from the blood without insulin, but most cells do require insulin to be present.
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by the body NOT responding effectively to insulin. This is termed insulin resistance. As a result the body is less able to take up glucose from the blood. In the earlier stages of type 2 diabetes, the body responds by producing more insulin than it would normally need to. Why does this happen? The insulin gateways to the cells are clogged. THEY ARE CLOGGED WITH FAT.
Blame it on fat
In places in the world where fat consumption is minimal, there is NO type 2 diabetes. People eat unrefined carbohydrates like fruit, vegetables, potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and a lot more and there is no negative ramifications. But in the Western diet, where saturated fats are common place, type 2 diabetes is out of control. In the United States, there are more than 5,000 new cases per day!
Eating a diet heavy in meat, chicken, fish and ultra-processed refined foods will only promote this disease as well as many others.
Quality of life diminishes and gradually get worse for those who don’t take the proper steps to reduce or eliminate the risk of diabetes. Here is a list of complications from the disease:
- Stroke and heart disease
- Kidney failure
- Early mortality
- Hearing loss
- Blindness in adults
- Amputation of limbs
- Mild to severe nerve damage (neuropathy)
Using lifestyle medicine
At my clinic, I have seen many, many cases of prediabetes and diabetes put to bed. The average diabetic medication (non-insulin) will lower the key barometer of diabetes, the HbA1C by about 2 points. Lifestyle changes can do 3 or 4 times more than what medicines can do!
Yes, it’s that same combination of a whole-foods, mostly plant-based way of eating along with exercise. Especially important is getting a good night’s sleep consistently. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. 7-9 hours of sleep on a steady basis is incredibly important.
If you can change your lifestyle – your food, exercise, and sleep — then it won’t only be type 2 diabetes you are preventing or reversing! This lifestyle also helps with heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases and much, much more. The only side effects of a healthy lifestyle are good ones.
Yes—TYPE 2 DIABETES IS PREVENTABLE AND REVERSABLE with lifestyle medicine and will “add hours to your day, days to your year, and years to your life.”