5 Steps to Reversing Type 2 Diabetes:
Manage your health: Type 2 diabetes can be prevented.
While researching an article on diabetes for a magazine a few years ago, I learned a lot of things I didn’t know before. I interviewed a gentleman named John whose doctor warned him that unless he change his ways, he’d end up with full-blown diabetes and be dependent on medication for the rest of his life. It was one of those wake-up calls that some of us are lucky enough to get and even wiser when we heed them.
Not everyone is lucky enough to get that kind of wake-up call. That might be because we are not taking charge of our health and visiting our doctor. But it could also be because there is another type of diabetes – Type 1 – that is not reversible. Type 1 diabetes, its exact cause unknown, is usually diagnosed in childhood, although many patients are diagnosed when they are older than 20, and must be controlled with daily injections of insulin, since the body cannot make its own. Symptoms usually develop over a short period of time, and include fatigue, increased thirst, increased urination, nausea, vomiting and weight loss in spite of an increased appetite.
The other type of diabetes – Type 2 – is far more common than Type 1 and makes up most of diabetes cases. It usually occurs in adulthood, although due to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, it’s becoming more and more common in younger people, and develops slowly. And although it’s a serious condition, many people who have it do not even know it. Before people develop type 2 diabetes, they almost always have a condition known as prediabetes, where their blood glucose levels are higher than normal – but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Pre- diabetes, or early type 2 diabetes is widespread, affecting 79 million people, but with some knowledge and self-help, its incidence can be reduced.
As Dr. Epler says: You can take charge. It’s never too late. “You can manage your disease better than anyone else. You just have to know how.”
Read on to learn how one person did it, and how you can, too. It’s possible! A diabetes prevention program study showed that just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day, together with a 5-10% reduction in body weight, produced a 58% reduction in diabetes.
John, who was 53 years old at the time, suffered from emotional eating (his favorites: cookies and chips). When his doctor told him he had elevated blood sugar, a marker for prediabetes, he paid little heed. But when fatigue and blurry vision sent him back to the doctor for another visit and the tests revealed his prediabetes had progressed to full-blown type-2 diabetes, he paid attention. Sure, if John had lost weight and exercised much earlier he most likely would not have reached this point. But it was not too late to turn things around. And it’s not too late for the other 79 million Americans who have prediabetes, which means your fasting glucose readings fall between 100 and 125.
- Change your eating habits. People with diets rich in whole grains, fruits, nuts and low-fat dairy can lower their diabetes risk by as much as 15 percent. It helps, too, to increase your fiber intake and lower your alcohol consumption.
- Get up and move. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
- Lose the excess weight. If you carry excess weight – especially in your midsection – your risk goes up.
- Watch your numbers. People with high blood pressure, low “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and/or high triglycerides have a higher risk of developing diabetes.
- Be aware of your risk factors. You are at higher risk if you:
- Have an impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and/or impaired fasting glucose (IFG)
- Have a family history of diabetes
- Are over age 45
- Are African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic
American/Latino or a Pacific Islander
- Have blood pressure of 140/90 or higher
- Have a prior history of gestational diabetes or have given birth to at least
one baby weighing more than 9 pounds
- Have low HDL cholesterol or high triglycerides
- Do not exercise regularly
You can manage your diabetes and you can prevent type 2 diabetes. Take charge of your health.