A disease that increases the risk of blindness, kidney disease, nerve damage, and heart attack – diabetes is undoubtedly one of the top ten public health issues in the country. It affects more than 9 percent of the United States population and was unfortunately the direct cause of 1.6 million deaths worldwide in 2015. Given the varying complications and its increasing prevalence, many people are starting to wonder if and how they can reverse diabetes to improve their lifestyle. Read on to explore more about this disease and 7 ways to reverse diabetes.
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Diabetes is a Group of Diseases
Diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, is a class of diseases that involves challenges with insulin production. Insulin is a hormone created in the pancreas and its goal is to regulate the amount of glucose in the blood. Glucose is a sugar that the body uses for energy and is the main source of fuel for the brain. Those diagnosed with diabetes have trouble with one of the two:
- Their body cannot make insulin due to damaged beta cells in the pancreas (type 1 diabetes) or,
- Their body is resistant or responds negatively to insulin (type 2 diabetes)
What Is Type 1 Diabetes
Previously known as juvenile diabetes, type 1 diabetes requires daily administration of insulin to make up for the deficit of insulin in the body. T-cells attack the pancreas, which is what leads to the insulin deficit. This autoimmune disease can develop in adults, but it is most commonly associated with children and teens. The onset of disease is sudden and people report the following signs and symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Weight loss
- Mood changes
- Frequent urination
- Extreme thirst
There is currently no known cure for diabetes type 1 and the true cause of the disease is unknown. The uncertainty regarding disease onset makes it difficult for providers to determine prevention methods. To date, there is much controversy behind whether or not diabetes type 1 can actually be reversed. Researchers have studied this subject for several years in hopes of bringing to end the life altering disease for the 3 million Americans that it affects.
What Is Type 2 Diabetes
Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes affects mostly adults. However, with the increase in childhood obesity, more and more children are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Although there is also no known cure for type 2 diabetes, the management of the diabetes does not always require medications and insulin therapy. In fact, research has shown that many people are able to manage the disease by exercising and eating healthy.
Gestational Diabetes – What Causes It?
Gestational diabetes is triggered by hormonal changes and occurs in about 4% of all pregnancies. The hormones make it difficult for insulin to work effectively and in turn, can put a mother and unborn child at risk for complications. Blood levels typically return back to normal after childbirth, but the mother has a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes as they age.
How To Reverse Diabetes – Here Are 7 Ways
Now that we’ve covered what diabetes is and how it affects the millions of people that have it, we can move on to discussing ways of how to reverse it. This section will focus on type 2 diabetes, as that can be reversed with diet and lifestyle changes. While there is no proven way to reverse type 1 diabetes, we’ll share some research that suggests that exciting developments are on the horizon.
The medical community deems exercise as one of the top ways to reverse diabetes. Not only does is strengthen your muscles ability to use insulin, but it can also fix insulin resistance. Consider doing a six-minute high intensity workout where you do approximately 20-30 seconds of intense exercise followed by 15-30 seconds of rest.
You should also consider strength training as it helps increase your metabolism over time. In addition, strength training can help you maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Some examples of strength training would include:
- Bicep curls
- Lose Excess Weight
Losing weight has helped several diabetics manage their condition. In fact, research even suggests that it can reverse type 2 diabetes altogether, so the benefits are worth looking into. Those who do lose weight usually notice the following:
- Their blood sugar is lower
- They alleviate insulin resistance
- Their blood pressure and cholesterol are better regulated
- They deduce their risk of heart attack, kidney failure, and other complications that go hand in hand with diabetes
Contrary to belief, you do not have to lose a bunch of weight to notice results. Just losing 5% – 7% of your weight can help reduce your risk of vision loss, amputation, and more!
Did you know that smoking makes it more difficult to control diabetes? Or that those that do smoke and have diabetes are much more likely to suffer from serious complications? Diabetics who quit smoking can better control their blood sugar levels and prevent issues like retinopathy and peripheral neuropathy. Whether you have type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes, putting down the cigarettes can make a significant difference.
- Reduce The Red Meat
While red meat like bacon is a breakfast favorite, cutting it out of your diet can actually help reverse diabetes. Red meat carries a lot of iron, which can damage pancreas cells and make insulin less effective. When researchers analyzed the data of 440,000 people that dropped red meat, they found that they reduced their diabetes risk by 35%! Try swapping the steak and hamburgers with jackfruit tacos and mushroom and spinach lasagna instead.
Stress has a prominent influence on those with diabetes and can create a barrier to controlling glucose levels. When we feel threatened, our body releases cortisol and adrenaline, which increases our respiratory rate. In preparation of fighting the situation, the blood in our body flows to our muscles and extremities. If you have diabetes, your body may struggle with processing glucose released from your cells, which results in the glucose not being able to convert into energy. As a result, your blood glucose levels rise due to the build up of glucose in the bloodstream.
Here are a few ways to manage the stress in your life:
- Getting a massage
- Doing deep breathing exercises
- Eating healthier foods
- Listening to music
If you’re thinking about using supplements to help with your diabetes, it’s important to consult with your physician first to ensure it does not interfere with your current treatment plan. Currently, there’s no definitive research that says that supplements can reverse diabetes, but some supplements may certainly be able to help. Consider these four commonly used supplements for individuals with type 2 diabetes.
- Cinnamon – Research shows that cinnamon can better your absorption of blood sugar by stimulating insulin receptors in cells.
- Magnesium – Diabetics are usually low on magnesium, which has an affect on insulin production. Adding magnesium can improve insulin insensitivity and creation.
- Omega-3 – Triglycerides, which is an unhealthy blood fat, is reduced when using omega-3s. This supplement also decreases the risk of heart disease in diabetics, who are at high risk for the disease.
- Alpha-Lipoid Acid – Also known as ALA supplements, people with diabetes use this to assist their body in utilizing insulin more efficiently.
Reversing Type 1 Diabetes
As previously mentioned, there is no proven way to reverse type 1 diabetes, but research suggests that fasting may help. This leads us to the final item on the list.
- The Fasting Mimicking Diet
A study on mice and also on human pancreatic cells has shown improvements in two ways:
- Regeneration of pancreatic beta cells and,
- An improved cytokine profile
In layman terms, this means that the fasting mimicking diet can trigger the regeneration of new pancreatic cells to replace the dysfunctional ones. As a result, it stabilizes blood glucose levels.
Doing cycles of a regular diet and then a fasting diet leads to a reprogramming of non-insulin producing cells. When these cells become insulin-producing cells, it reveres insulin resistance and insulin depletion.
This is not yet FDA approved but the hope is that this method can be useful one day for both type 1 and type 2 diabetics.
As with all chronic conditions, it’s always important to speak with your physician about a plan that works best for you. While diabetes is a serious condition, there are a number of options for controlling and reducing complications related to the disease. Take the time to educate yourself and document how your body responds to different methods.