Thank you so much for providing this expert panel. The varying views helped me understand which areas are somewhat vague and which areas overlap. As a Type2 pre-diabetic of 7 years, I have been informed that I need to take a cholesterol drug, even though my cholesterol has always been low. I was told it’s to help remove calcification in my arteries. I have been considered obese for over 20 years and recently lost 50 lbs (I now weight 197) and am continuing to lose weight. I was told that I would always be a diabetic and would have to take medication. I was so proud of my progress (A1c now 5.6), but this news depressed me. I refused to take the cholesterol drug until I could do some research. This expert panel helped me to realize that it is possible to get off the medication if I continue to eat a healthy diet (low saturated fats) and exercise at least 150 minutes a week. Thank you!
If you have type 2 diabetes and your body mass index (BMI) is greater than 35, you may be a candidate for weight-loss surgery (bariatric surgery). Blood sugar levels return to normal in 55 to 95 percent of people with diabetes, depending on the procedure performed. Surgeries that bypass a portion of the small intestine have more of an effect on blood sugar levels than do other weight-loss surgeries.
Type 2 diabetes has long been known to progress despite glucose-lowering treatment, with 50% of individuals requiring insulin therapy within 10 years (1). This seemingly inexorable deterioration in control has been interpreted to mean that the condition is treatable but not curable. Clinical guidelines recognize this deterioration with algorithms of sequential addition of therapies. Insulin resistance and β-cell dysfunction are known to be the major pathophysiologic factors driving type 2 diabetes; however, these factors come into play with very different time courses. Insulin resistance in muscle is the earliest detectable abnormality of type 2 diabetes (2). In contrast, changes in insulin secretion determine both the onset of hyperglycemia and the progression toward insulin therapy (3,4). The etiology of each of these two major factors appears to be distinct. Insulin resistance may be caused by an insulin signaling defect (5), glucose transporter defect (6), or lipotoxicity (7), and β-cell dysfunction is postulated to be caused by amyloid deposition in the islets (8), oxidative stress (9), excess fatty acid (10), or lack of incretin effect (11). The demonstration of reversibility of type 2 diabetes offers the opportunity to evaluate the time sequence of pathophysiologic events during return to normal glucose metabolism and, hence, to unraveling the etiology.
Storage of liver fat can only occur when daily calorie intake exceeds expenditure. Sucrose overfeeding for 3 weeks has been shown to cause a 30% increase in liver fat content (37). The associated metabolic stress on hepatocytes was reflected by a simultaneous 30% rise in serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels, and both liver fat and serum ALT returned to normal levels during a subsequent hypocaloric diet. Superimposed upon a positive calorie balance, the extent of portal vein hyperinsulinemia determines how rapidly conversion of excess sugars to fatty acid occurs in the liver. In groups of both obese and nonobese subjects, it was found that those with higher plasma insulin levels have markedly increased rates of hepatic de novo lipogenesis (2,38,39). Conversely, in type 1 diabetes the relatively low insulin concentration in the portal vein (as a consequence of insulin injection into subcutaneous tissue) is associated with subnormal liver fat content (40). Initiation of subcutaneous insulin therapy in type 2 diabetes brings about a decrease in portal insulin delivery by suppression of pancreatic insulin secretion and, hence, a decrease in liver fat (41). Hypocaloric diet (42), physical activity (43), or thiazolidinedione use (23,44) each reduces insulin secretion and decreases liver fat content. Newly synthesized triacylglycerol in the liver will be either oxidized, exported, or stored as hepatic triacylglycerol. Because transport of fatty acid into mitochondria for oxidation is inhibited by the malonyl-CoA produced during de novo lipogenesis, newly synthesized triacylglycerol is preferentially directed toward storage or export. Hence, hepatic fat content and plasma VLDL triacylglycerol levels are increased.
Gene therapy can be used to turn duodenum cells and duodenum adult stem cells into beta cells which produce insulin and amylin naturally. By delivering beta cell DNA to the intestine cells in the duodenum, a few intestine cells will turn into beta cells, and subsequently adult stem cells will develop into beta cells. This makes the supply of beta cells in the duodenum self replenishing, and the beta cells will produce insulin in proportional response to carbohydrates consumed.
Efforts to cure or stop type 1 diabetes are still in the early stages, and these approaches will also not be suitable for people that have already lost their insulin-producing cells. A solution could be the creation of an “artificial pancreas” — a fully automated system that can measure glucose levels and inject the right amount of insulin into the bloodstream, just like a healthy pancreas would.
The role of physical activity must be considered. Increased levels of daily activity bring about decreases in liver fat stores (43), and a single bout of exercise substantially decreases both de novo lipogenesis (39) and plasma VLDL (92). Several studies demonstrated that calorie control combined with exercise is much more successful than calorie restriction alone (93). However, exercise programs alone produce no weight loss for overweight middle-aged people (94). The necessary initial major loss of body weight demands a substantial reduction in energy intake. After weight loss, steady weight is most effectively achieved by a combination of dietary restriction and physical activity. Both aerobic and resistance exercise are effective (95). The critical factor is sustainability.
To help patients learn to manage their diabetes successfully, the Diabetes Treatment Center at Desert Springs Hospital offers educational classes, as well as individualized appointments, (in both English and Spanish) on topics such as behavior change, goal setting, healthy eating concepts, carbohydrate counting, dining out, label reading, lipid, medication, stress and sick day management, benefits of exercise, prevention of complications and foot care. Special Gestational Diabetes Education classes are also available for women diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy. Learn more about the Diabetes Care Education Series >
A study published in 2014 by the Second University of Naples showed that a low-carbohydrate Mediterranean diet was able to achieve significant rates of remission in people with type 2 diabetes. After one year of following the diet, 15% of participants achieved remission and, after six years, 5% had achieved remission on the diet – a stunning achievement.
Many studies show that lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, eating healthy and increasing physical activity, can dramatically reduce the progression of Type 2 diabetes and may control Type 1 diabetes. These lifestyle changes can also help minimize other risk factors such as high blood pressure and blood cholesterol, which can have a negative impact on people with diabetes.
“A major difference from other studies is that we advised a period of dietary weight loss with no increase in physical activity, but during the long-term follow up increased daily activity is important. Bariatric surgery can achieve remission of diabetes in about three-quarters of people, but it is more expensive and risky, and is only available to a small number of patients.”
Exercise– Even the mainstream medical community recognizes the advantage of exercise, as it increases the muscles ability to use insulin and over time can help fix insulin resistance. All exercise isn’t created equal though and fortunately, smaller amounts of high intensity exercise have been shown to have a better effect on insulin levels (and weight loss) than an hour of daily moderate cardio. According to the Healthy Skeptic: “A pair of studies done at McMaster University found that “6-minutes of pure, hard exercise once a week could be just as effective as an hour of daily moderate activity“, according to the June 6, 2005 CNN article reporting on the study.” I recommend high intensity exercise anyway for its various health advantages, and it is great for diabetes control. too.
While Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that seems to affect people with certain gene types, Type 2 Diabetes is triggered by lifestyle choices, such as poor diet and obesity. Eating sugary and processed foods contributes to weight gain, and that extra body fat can be released into the bloodstream, impeding the absorption of insulin and other chemicals related to metabolism. When metabolism is slowed, weight gain is more likely, and the cycle repeats itself. Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes is multifaceted, often including insulin injections, a host of medications, and lifestyle modifications such as diet changes and exercise regimens.
Big pharma are in the early stages of developing their own cell therapy approaches for diabetes. Novo Nordisk, one of the largest providers of diabetes treatments, is bidding for stem cells and an encapsulation device, stating that the first clinical trial could take place in the “next few years.” Sanofi, also a big name in diabetes, is working with the German Evotec in a beta cell replacement therapy for diabetics.
Type 2 diabetes is a condition that is characterised by chronically elevated blood sugar levels. However, the main cause as well as the driver for this condition is something called Insulin Resistance. When you eat certain foods, particularly refined carbohydrates, that food is converted to sugar inside your body. Your body’s way of dealing with this sugar is to produce a hormone called insulin. Insulin moves the sugar inside your cells so that it can be used for energy. Sounds great, right?
Foods high in fiber: Research shows that 90 percent of the U.S. population doesn’t consume enough fiber on a daily basis. High-fiber foods help slow down glucose absorption, regulate your blood sugar levels and support detoxification. Aim to eat at least 30 grams of fiber per day, which can come from vegetables (like Brussels sprouts, peas and artichokes), avocados, berries, nuts and seeds, especially chia seeds and flaxseeds. (9)
Late in the 19th century, sugar in the urine (glycosuria) was associated with diabetes. Various doctors studied the connection. Frederick Madison Allen studied diabetes in 1909–12, then published a large volume, Studies Concerning Glycosuria and Diabetes, (Boston, 1913). He invented a fasting treatment for diabetes called the Allen treatment for diabetes. His diet was an early attempt at managing diabetes.
” 200 consecutive pts, aged 51-86, M:F ratio 3/2, with known vascular risk factors of HTN, DM, Hypercholesterolemia, hx of MI, Stent, CABG, were enrolled in a dietary program, which emphasizes large amts of leafy green vegetables, olive oil, radical reduction of grain, legumes, nightshades, and fruits; and generous amts of grassfed animal proteins, emphasizing Shellfish and avoiding commercial poultry (Diet Evolution). All pts were instructed to take 2-4,000 mg of high DHA fish oil, 200mg of Grape Seed Extract, and 50 mg of Pycnogenol per day. All pts had Endothelial Reactivity (ER) using PAT before and after a 5-minute arm occlusion using the EndoPAT 2000 (Itamar, Israel) at baseline and at 6 months.
Research is constantly giving us more information on diabetes and the various factors that contribute to its steady rise in society over the last few decades. Since most theories on diabetes are just that- theories, research for yourself and figure out your best way or preventing or reversing diabetes. I’ve compiled the best of my own research above, but do your own, too! At the least, please consider making some positive changes to help keep yourself disease free (or become disease free).
Diabetes is a serious disease that you cannot treat on your own. Your doctor will help you make a diabetes treatment plan that is right for you -- and that you can understand. You may also need other health care professionals on your diabetes treatment team, including a foot doctor, nutritionist, eye doctor, and a diabetes specialist (called an endocrinologist).
Poor oral hygiene is a great factor to take under consideration when it comes to oral problems and even more in people with diabetes. Diabetic people are advised to brush their teeth at least twice a day, and if possible, after all meals and snacks. However, brushing in the morning and at night is mandatory as well as flossing and using an anti-bacterial mouthwash. Individuals who suffer from diabetes are recommended to use toothpaste that contains fluoride as this has proved to be the most efficient in fighting oral infections and tooth decay. Flossing must be done at least once a day, as well because it is helpful in preventing oral problems by removing the plaque between the teeth, which is not removed when brushing.
8. Get your protein from vegetable sources, fish, and dairy: Plant-based proteins have a balanced nutritional profile (providing fiber, fat, and protein) and are low in saturated fats. Some saturated fats, like those that are heavily processed or from unhealthy animals, can be dangerous, as they raise cholesterol levels and contribute to heart disease. Dairy from pastured animals (such as yogurt) that is low in sugar provides protein, carbohydrates, and beneficial probiotics, and non-mercury contaminated, wild caught fish is a great source of protein that is low in saturated fat and high in amino acids and fatty acids like Omega-3.
The only way to effectively reverse type 2 diabetes (or even pre-diabetes) is to deal with the underlying cause – Insulin Resistance. Trying to address the blood sugar levels (with medication) without addressing the insulin levels is treating the symptoms, not treating the root cause. It is similar to using a bucket to remove water from an overflowing sink rather than actually turning off the tap!
Get Your Fats in Good Balance– Overabundance of Omega-6 fats in the diet is a contributing factor in diabetes. Pay attention to your intake of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats and try to get them closer to a 1:1 ratio. For many people, supplementing with a good quality Omega-3 oil can help while dietary adjustments are being made. Avoid Omega-6 seed oils and their sources (these are used at almost every restaurant). Eat fatty fish like salmon and sardines for the Omega-3s.
The problem, of course, has not been solved — the sugar bowl is still overflowing. You’ve only moved sugar from the blood (where you could see it) into the body (where you couldn’t see it). It’s putting a band-aid over a bullet hole. So, the very next time you eat, the exact same thing happens. Sugar comes in, spills out into the blood and you take medication to cram the sugar back into the body. This works for a while, but eventually, the body fills up with sugar, too. Now, that same dose of medication cannot force any more sugar into the body.
So, can you “reverse” diabetes? No – but you can manage it very well with the help of a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and a knowledgeable primary care physician or endocrinologist. There are even prescription apps available to bridge the care that your clinicians can give you between visits and apps that offer virtual CDE’s for greater assistance.
Could restricting your diet for a couple of days a week put type 2 diabetes in remission? That’s the controversial claim scientists of a small new study are making as they fan the fire around a diet fad known as intermittent fasting. But many health professionals, including those at the American Diabetes Association, argue that the approach can be dangerous for people with diabetes, whose bodies cannot control their blood sugar without careful diet, medication, and sometimes insulin management.
9. Exercise! Moderate to vigorous exercise that includes both cardio and strength building components are great ways to keep the body fit. Exercise can also contribute to a more positive outlook on life, which can boost the immune system, provide capacity for healthier coping strategies, and decrease stress. Yoga, hiking, and jogging are all good options. To boost your metabolism, make sure your work-outs incorporate strength training. It is also far more effective to incorporate high intensity interval workouts to your regime, such as sprinting and HIIT workouts.
Alcohol: Alcohol can dangerously increase blood sugar and lead to liver toxicity. Research published in Annals of Internal Medicine found that there was a 43 percent increased incidence of diabetes associated with heavy consumption of alcohol, which is defined as three or more drinks per day. (8) Beer and sweet liquors are especially high in carbohydrates and should be avoided.
Acupuncture is a procedure where a practitioner inserts very thin needles into specific points on your skin. Some scientists say that acupuncture triggers the release of the body's natural painkillers. Acupuncture has been shown to offer relief from chronic pain and is sometimes used by people with neuropathy, the painful nerve damage that can happen with diabetes.
I agree with the group consensus. Type 2 diabetes can be reversed, or controlled, as long as the prescription sticks. Many people don’t know this and the word needs to be spread! I’ve worked with patients who have been able to reach a healthy BMI and eliminate the need for medications to treat type 2 diabetes after adopting a plant-based diet. A prescription to focus on increasing fiber intake (http://www.pcrm.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/health/dietary-fiber-checklist.pdf) instead of counting carbohydrates makes it easy to add, instead of subtract, from each meal. It’s a win-win for both patients and providers.
Magnesium deficiency is not uncommon in people with diabetes, and it can worsen high blood sugar and insulin resistance. Some studies suggest that supplementing with magnesium may improve insulin function and lower blood sugar levels, but other studies have shown no benefit. Have your doctor check you for deficiency before supplementing with magnesium. These are signs that you’re not getting enough magnesium.
Taking a fish oil supplement can help improve markers of diabetes by reducing triglyceride levels and raising HDL cholesterol levels. Research published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences shows that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are necessary for proper insulin function, preventing insulin intolerance and reducing inflammation. (16) To use fish oil as a natural remedy for diabetes, take 1,000 milligrams daily.
Robert Ferry Jr., MD, is a U.S. board-certified Pediatric Endocrinologist. After taking his baccalaureate degree from Yale College, receiving his doctoral degree and residency training in pediatrics at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), he completed fellowship training in pediatric endocrinology at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.