Is Diabetes Reversible?

The short answer is yes. But, as is the case for most health conditions, there is nuance involved. 

First, it is important to identify the correct type of diabetes.

  • Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which centers around the pancreas’ inability to produce the hormone insulin. This type is currently not reversible.
  • Type 2 diabetes is a developed form of the disease, and unlike Type 1, the body does produce insulin but struggles to properly use the hormone to allow sugar to be absorbed into cell bodies. This form can be reversed under the right circumstances.

Treatment of type 2 diabetes isn’t a one size fits all solution, but fortunately, the body can recover from a diagnosis. Recovery can be achieved through a personalized compilation of lifestyle and dietary changes, and the successful reversal of diabetes is more likely when a structured process and plan are in place to support these changes.

The Process of Recovery 

  • Proper Testing
  • Use Diet To Your Advantage
  • Exercise Regularly
  • Add Supplements When Needed
  • Work Toward Less Dependence On Medications

Testing is The First Step To Healing 

It is estimated that upwards of 100-115 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes. Nearly 95 percent of all diabetic cases are type 2 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These numbers are staggering in and of themselves, but come with a silver-lining: 95-109 million of these Americans have an opportunity to get their status under control or even work toward reversal of their condition.

The first step to regaining proper glucose handling is utilizing the right blood tests to understand the starting point. In our office we start with a comprehensive lab panel that includes the current glycated hemoglobin levels (Hb A1C) and Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) levels. 

This type of testing gives physicians a better understanding of how successful or unsuccessful sugar is being used and regulated within the bloodstream. A1C levels give long-term insight into an individual’s blood glucose status over the previous 90-120 days. In contrast, the FPG gives short-term insight by measuring a momentary amount of glucose in the bloodstream after a 12 hour fast.

Healthy A1C levels scale between about 4.5 and 5.6, and anything above begins to register as an indication of prediabetes or diabetes. Once an individual is aware of their numbers, then the elimination of the unhealthy factors that caused the increase can initiate the reversal process of type 2 diabetes. 

A Guide to Reversing Diabetes 

The reversal of type 2 diabetes can be done by taking intentional, calculated steps. These measures depend on an individual’s starting point, and often involve a combination of lifestyle alterations, dietary modification, possible supplementation, and (if applicable) medication changes. 

Changing Your Diet

Nutrition is a main pillar in restoring a body wrought by diabetes. Examining what foods enter an individual’s body is often a good starting point in positively impacting the issues associated with the disease. Utilizing strategies specific to the individual’s needs (not just what’s most effective and efficient, but also what is long-term sustainable for each person) is necessary to get the ball rolling no matter what the starting point is. 

Filling the body with nutrient-dense foods higher in fiber, protein, and good fats will help the body recover. 

Recommended foods can include: 

  • Green Leafy Vegetables 
    • Kale 
    • Spinach 
    • Cabbage 
  • Non-Starchy Vegetables 
    • Mushrooms 
    • Peppers 
    • Onion 
  • Beans 
    • Lentils 
    • Chickpeas 
    • Kidney beans 
  • Nuts and Seeds 
    • Almonds 
    • Pistachios 
    • Walnuts 
  • Fresh Fruit 
    • Grapefruit 
    • Green Apple 
    • Avocado 

If you are noticing a trend within the list above, it is very purposeful. Filling the diet with whole-food sources of nutrition is the foundation of any diabetes-reversal plan. Some other important details are to avoid food products with added sugar and refined grains, and to ALWAYS focus on finding good quality sources of food.

(A low glycemic index/load diet can help reverse type 2 diabetes.)

Regular Exercise is Needed

Once an effective and sustainable diet plan is developed, adding in regular exercise is imperative to seeing maximized results in a reduction of sugar levels and re-sensitization of insulin. The American Diabetes Association recommends both aerobic exercise and strength training to help the body accomplish this. We include these recommendations in our process for each individual – specifically tailored to the abilities and proclivities of that patient.

  • 150 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic exercise each week 
  • Strength training is suggested at least 2 times a week

In similar fashion to making dietary changes, it is oftentimes important to start slow when attempting to establish good exercise habits. This is especially true if exercise has not previously been a part of your daily routine. Even including a leisurely walk with family or friends is a great way to set the foundation, and adding to it as those habits grow becomes much easier from there.

Strategically Utilizing Vitamins 

Adding supplements, in combination with diet and exercise, can strategically increase needed vitamins and nutrients that are lacking. Testing will provide the blueprint for the exact nutrients and quantities that your body needs, but common supplements like Vitamin B-1, chromium, and magnesium have been found to help the regulation of proper blood glucose levels. 

It is worth noting that vitamins should not be used as a crutch alongside a poor-quality diet. This, more often than not, leads to false hope and ultimate failure in accomplishing the intended goal!

Looking at Your Medications 

Examining what types of prescribed medicine is circulating throughout an individual’s system is important context to understand. Many conditions are treated with medications that, in turn, create issues in other parts of the body. 

Statin drugs are a common drug class that is prescribed for individuals with high cholesterol or are at risk of cardiovascular disease. However, statin drugs have shown increased links to liver damage and increased blood sugar levels, which can contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. 

At Hill Functional Wellness, we do not prescribe medications. We are also very careful to communicate the fact that we were not the physicians who prescribed a medication, so we will never take a patient off of them. We will, though, work with our patients’ primary physicians to advocate for alterations of meds in accordance with each patient’s improvement. A world without the need for medications is a better world, and that is typically what our patients desire.

Dedicated to Reversing Diabetes 

Seeing improvement in A1C and FBG levels (alongside others) will always be the objective measure of success for each patient. Seeing these changes occur is very encouraging for our patients when it happens, but we always encourage anyone who has been down this path to learn how to make their new diet and lifestyle changes sustainable. 

Hill Functional Wellness will walk step by step with you to determine your diabetic status and establish an action plan to address it. Our goal is to not only help you improve, but also to teach you how to care for yourself and become independently healthy. At Hill Functional Wellness, we help you forget about the threat of diabetes.