Reversing diabetes is a term that usually refers to significantly reducing insulin resistance in people with type 2 diabetes. (2023)

Reversing diabetes is a term that usually refers to a significant long-term improvement in insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes.

People with type 2 diabetes that are able to get their HbA1c below 42 mmol/mol (6%) without taking diabetes medication are said to have reversed or resolved their diabetes. This also known as putting diabetes into remission.

Loss of body weight can be particularly beneficial in helping to reverse the progression of diabetes.

With time and dedication, type 2 diabetes can be reversed and the results can be very rewarding, with less tiredness and better all-round health.

If you think you need to come off your diabetes medication, ensure you speak to your healthcare team before doing so.

Understanding how diabetes progresses

The most common cause of type 2 diabetes is obesity-related, which generally follows a vicious cycle pattern:

(Video) Reversing Type 2 diabetes starts with ignoring the guidelines | Sarah Hallberg | TEDxPurdueU

  • Diet high in calories – particularly if high in refined carbohydrates.
  • Insulin levels in the bloodstream rise to cope with the high- and quick-acting carb intake.
  • Weight is gained around the belly (central or truncal obesity).
  • Consistently high insulin levels lead to the body’s cells becoming resistant to insulin and commonly lead to weight gain.
  • High insulin levels also increase weight gain.
  • Insulin resistance leads to an increase in blood sugar levels, particularly after meals.
  • The pancreas produces more insulin to cope with rising blood sugar levels
  • High sugar levels lead to feelings of lethargy and high insulin levels lead to increased hunger.
  • Hunger often leads to overeating and lethargy, with less physical activity being taken.
  • Overeating, less activity and high insulin levels all lead to further weight gain and more insulin resistance.
  • Consistently high demand on the pancreas to produce extra insulin leads to damage of the pancreas’ insulin-producing beta cells.
  • Beta cell damage results in the body struggling to produce enough insulin, and steeper rises in blood sugar levels leads to more recognisable symptoms of diabetes, such as thirst and a frequent need to urinate

Breaking the progressive cycle of type 2 diabetes

To reverse diabetes, you need to be able to break this cycle by taking the strain off your insulin-producing cells.

Research indicates that effective ways to reverse diabetes include:

  • Low-carbohydrate diets
  • Very low calorie diets
  • Exercise
  • Bariatric surgery

Low-carbohydrate diets

Low-carbohydrate diets are known for lowering the amount of insulin the body needs to produce, resulting in less insulin resistance.[175]

A study 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.

By comparison, low-fat diets were not as effective in the study. After one year, 4% of participants on a low-fat diet had achieved remission and, after six years, 0% of participants had achieved remission.

Dr David Unwin, a UK GP, has run studies that have demonstrated reversal of diabetes in a number of his patients after following a reduced-carbohydrate diet.

(Video) Can you reverse type 2 diabetes | How it works

The Low Carb Program is a digital weight loss program that was made with Dr David Unwin that provides a 12-week programme supporting members to reduce the amount of carbohydrates in the diet. The programme has been clinically validated in 6 peer-reviewed, published studies to support weight loss, improvements in HbA1c and remission of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Low-carbohydrate diets and remission in the news:

  • Low carb diet shown to reduce high blood pressure
  • Man puts type 2 diabetes into remission 23 years since diagnosis
  • Diabetes remission app saves NHS thousands in diabetes medication costs, latest evidence shows

Low-carb success stories from the forum:

Read other people’s success stories and see how others have managed to reverse their type 2 diabetes:

  • Down from 9.9 to 6.7 in 10 weeks
  • Type 2 and normal HbA1c with just diet/exercise
  • Down from 23.5 to 5.9 in 8 weeks
  • Latest HBA1C – stunned!
  • After 9+yrs of Metformin no more meds!
  • Lower carb diet and Fatty Liver Gone
  • Hba1c down from 86(12.3) to 38(5.6) in 3 months diet and exercise only and the love of this forum

Very low-calorie diets

Very-low-calorie diets (VLCD) have been shown to achieve significant weight loss, reduce insulin resistance and allow people with type 2 diabetes to come off their diabetes medication.

A study was published by researchers at Newcastle University showing that an 8-week 800 kcal per day diet was able to achieve remission from diabetes in seven of the 11 participants that took part. The diet included around 600 kcal from meal shakes and around a further 200 kcal from non-starchy vegetables. [174]

The trial used MRI scans and showed that the reversal of diabetes appeared to be correlated with significant reductions in fat storage within the liver and pancreas.

Newcastle University ran a study involving 32 participants. The participants were put on a similar diet for a similar length of time and then followed a low calorie weight maintenance diet.

(Video) Reversing Diabetes - Dr.Ravi Sankar Endocrinologist MRCP(UK) CCT - GIM (UK)

Initial results show that 40% of participants had achieved and maintained remission from type 2 diabetes six months after completing the diet.

A VLCD is regarded as an extreme form of diet and therefore should be undertaken with care. If you are interested in following a VLCD, it is important that you first speak with your doctor to ensure the diet is safe for you to follow.

In addition to the results seen in clinical trials, a number of anecdotal reports from patients show VLCDs to be successful at reversing diabetes to varying degrees.
Read more on the low calorie diet forum

VLCDs and reversal of diabetes in the news:

  • Low calorie liquid diet recommended as NHS obesity treatment by researchers
  • Very low-calorie diet can reverse type 2 diabetes for six months
  • Type 2 diabetes can be reversed by eating 600 calories a day

Low-calorie success stories from the forum:

There are many success stories in the forum:

  • Reversed T2 in 3 months diet only!
  • “Complete diabetic remission!”
  • My hba1c today

Exercise

Commitment to exercise has allowed a number of people to successfully reverse their type 2 diabetes.

Exercise helps the body to become more sensitive to its insulin. In combination with a healthy diet, exercise can reduce the demand for insulin in the body and therefore help reverse diabetes.

(Video) Dr. Hallberg on Carbohydrate Intolerance, Insulin Resistance and Reversing Diabetes (Ch 2)

There is a phrase that says ‘you can’t outrun a bad diet’ and there is a lot of truth in this. The people that have used exercise to reverse their diabetes have done so by combining exercise with healthy eating.

There have been a number of anecdotal accounts showing exercise to be linked with diabetes remission.

A study published in 2015 showed that 67% of participants were able to achieve partial remission of their type 2 diabetes having taken part in a six-month diet and exercise program. The participants in this study were newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Bariatric surgery

Bariatric surgery has shown significant results in reversing type 2 diabetes, with gastric bypass surgery, leading to particularly impressive remission rates.

A study showed that, three years after gastric bypass surgery, 72% of participants with type 2 diabetes had achieved remission [176], and another study reported that 24% of participants with type 2 achieved remission six years after receiving gastric bypass surgery.[177]

Gastric bypass surgery delivers the most impressive long-term remission rates but carries a risk of complications during and following surgery. It is a permanent procedure and necessitates a change to how you eat meals.

(Video) Insulin Toxicity (How to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes)

During gastric bypass surgery, the stomach is made much smaller, and only small meals can eaten following surgery. Additionally, nutritional supplements will need to be taken for the rest of one’s life.

Is it possible to reverse type 1 diabetes?

At the moment, type 1 diabetes cannot be reversed

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, and reversing it would require a method of preventing the body’s immune system from attacking its own insulin-producing cells.

FAQs

Can type 2 diabetes reverse insulin resistance? ›

There is no cure for type 2 diabetes. But it may be possible to reverse the condition to a point where you do not need medication to manage it and your body does not suffer ill effects from having blood sugar levels that are too high.

Why type 2 diabetes is irreversible? ›

We talk of remission and not a cure because it isn't permanent. The beta cells have been damaged and the underlying genetic factors contributing to the person's susceptibility to diabetes remain intact. Over time the disease process reasserts itself and continued destruction of the beta cells ensues.

How do you reverse Type 2? ›

There are three forms of treatment that are demonstrated to reverse type 2 diabetes:
  1. Bariatric surgery. ...
  2. Very low calorie diets. ...
  3. Very low carbohydrate diets.

Is type 1 diabetes reversible? ›

Following the treatment plan can help a person stay healthy, but it's not a cure for diabetes. Right now, there's no cure for diabetes, so people with type 1 diabetes will need treatment for the rest of their lives.

What type of diabetes is reversible? ›

Summary: People with type 2 diabetes can reverse the condition through a low calorie diet. A body of research putting people with Type 2 diabetes on a low calorie diet has confirmed the underlying causes of the condition and established that it is reversible.

What does type 2 diabetes cause? ›

It's caused by problems with a chemical in the body (hormone) called insulin. It's often linked to being overweight or inactive, or having a family history of type 2 diabetes.

Is insulin resistance the same as type 2 diabetes? ›

Insulin resistance is a feature of type 2 diabetes, and it can be present with prediabetes. Insulin is essential for enabling the body to use glucose effectively and prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high. When insulin does not work effectively, blood sugar levels can rise, and diabetes can develop.

Can a Type 2 diabetic pancreas start working again? ›

Beta cells begin working again in people who are in remission from type 2 diabetes, researchers have said. Further analysis of the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) explored the link between remission and the function of beta cells in the pancreas.

Can type 2 diabetes turn to Type 1? ›

Type 2 diabetes can't turn into type 1 diabetes, since the two conditions have different causes. Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks and destroys the islet beta cells in the pancreas.

What is the difference between type 2 diabetes and type 1? ›

The main difference between the type 1 and type 2 diabetes is that type 1 diabetes is a genetic condition that often shows up early in life, and type 2 is mainly lifestyle-related and develops over time. With type 1 diabetes, your immune system is attacking and destroying the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas.

How long does it take to reverse type 2 diabetes? ›

How long does it take to reverse diabetes? There's no set timeframe for when people with Type 2 diabetes may start to see their hard work pay off. In general, diabetes experts say with medication and lifestyle changes, diabetes patients could notice a difference in three to six months.

Can Type 3 diabetes be reversed? ›

There is no cure for type 3 diabetes (Alzheimer's disease), but doctors may prescribe drugs to slow the progression of the condition or treat its symptoms.

Can type 2 diabetes be cured? ›

There's no cure for type 2 diabetes, but losing weight, eating well and exercising can help you manage the disease. If diet and exercise aren't enough to manage your blood sugar, you may also need diabetes medications or insulin therapy.

What does reversing diabetes mean? ›

Reversing diabetes is a term that usually refers to a significant long-term improvement in insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes that are able to get their HbA1c below 42 mmol/mol (6%) without taking diabetes medication are said to have reversed or resolved their diabetes.

Can type 1.5 diabetes be reversed? ›

But unlike type 1 diabetes, people with type 1.5 often do not need insulin for several months up to years after they are diagnosed. Also, unlike type 2 diabetes, it's a comparatively rare autoimmune disorder that cannot be reversed even after making healthy lifestyle changes.

Can you reverse type 1 diabetes with fasting? ›

Periodic cycles of fasting appear to reprogram pancreatic cells and restore insulin production, according to research led by Valter Longo of gerontology and biological sciences.

Do Type 2 diabetics need insulin? ›

Sometimes, people with type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes need insulin therapy if other treatments haven't been able to keep blood glucose levels within the desired range. Insulin therapy helps prevent diabetes complications by keeping your blood sugar within your target range.

What food can reverse type 2 diabetes? ›

Which Foods Fight Diabetes?
  • Dark green leafy vegetables. They're low in calories and carbs, and high in nutrition. They also have a low glycemic index, so they'll help keep your blood sugar under control. ...
  • Berries. To satisfy your sweet tooth, pick berries. ...
  • Fatty fish. Aim to eat fish twice a week.
8 Jun 2022

Is Type 1 or 2 diabetes worse? ›

Type 2 diabetes is often milder than type 1. But it can still cause major health complications, especially in the tiny blood vessels in your kidneys, nerves, and eyes. Type 2 also raises your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Is type 2 diabetes a disease? ›

Type 2 diabetes, the most common type of diabetes, is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes mainly from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose get into your cells to be used for energy.

How common is type 2 diabetes? ›

More than 37 million Americans have diabetes (about 1 in 10), and approximately 90-95% of them have type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes most often develops in people over age 45, but more and more children, teens, and young adults are also developing it.

Who is at risk for type 2 diabetes? ›

You are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you: Are over age 45. Children, teenagers, and younger adults can get type 2 diabetes, but it is more common in middle-aged and older people. Have prediabetes, which means that your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes.

How do you reverse insulin resistance naturally? ›

Exercise is one of the fastest and most effective ways to reverse insulin resistance. Eat a balanced diet emphasizing vegetables, proteins, and low-fat dairy. Moderating your carb intake can help with weight loss and decreasing insulin resistance. Lose weight, especially around the middle, if possible.

What is the main cause of insulin resistance? ›

Experts believe obesity, especially too much fat in the abdomen and around the organs, called visceral fat, is a main cause of insulin resistance. A waist measurement of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women is linked to insulin resistance.

Does metformin cause weight loss? ›

All things considered, metformin can cause a modest reduction in weight, most likely due to side effects, like a decreased appetite and an upset stomach. But although effective for weight loss, the drug doesn't replace traditional dieting methods.

Can vitamin D reverse diabetes 1? ›

Vitamin D may play a role in either T1D pathogenesis and insulin sensitivity. Although conflicting data on the effects of vitamin D on blood glucose control have been reported in literature, vitamin D supplementation should be considered a promising tool for the prevention of T1D.

Can metformin damage the pancreas? ›

Discussion: Metformin is not generally known to cause or exacerbate pancreatitis, although cases of acute pancreatitis associated with metformin therapy have been reported in the literature. No cases involving chronic pancreatitis have been reported.

Is Cranberry Juice Good for pancreas? ›

Solid food takes more effort to digest, so if your pancreas is under excessive strain it might help to stick to a liquid diet for a few days. This can help ease the load on the pancreas for a day or two. Clear liquids like broth, apple juice, cranberry juice, or white grape juice are a good idea.

How long will it take to reverse insulin resistance? ›

A minimum initial prolonged fast of 36 hours to 3 days may be needed to start the process of reversing insulin resistance. For morbidly obese patients Fung uses initial fasts of 7 to 21 days. The longest known medically supervised fast is over 1 year in a male weighing more than 460 lbs.

Can you reverse insulin resistance permanently? ›

Insulin resistance can be reversed—although some doctors prefer to use the word “controlled” or “managed”—and the most effective ways are with lifestyle changes. Eat a plant-based, insulin resistance diet rich in things like whole grains, beans, legumes, and vegetables.

Is insulin resistance reversible? ›

Insulin resistance can lead to chronic health conditions like diabetes, coronary artery disease, and metabolic syndrome, but it does not always cause symptoms. Insulin resistance is reversible with exercise, diet, weight loss, and, if needed, medications.

How long does it take to reverse type 2 diabetes? ›

How long does it take to reverse diabetes? There's no set timeframe for when people with Type 2 diabetes may start to see their hard work pay off. In general, diabetes experts say with medication and lifestyle changes, diabetes patients could notice a difference in three to six months.

Can a Type 2 diabetic pancreas start working again? ›

Beta cells begin working again in people who are in remission from type 2 diabetes, researchers have said. Further analysis of the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) explored the link between remission and the function of beta cells in the pancreas.

How can I reverse diabetes naturally? ›

Some people have successfully reversed prediabetes by modifying their diet and lifestyle.
  1. Eat a “clean” diet. ...
  2. Exercise regularly. ...
  3. Lose excess weight. ...
  4. Stop smoking. ...
  5. Eat fewer carbs. ...
  6. Treat sleep apnea. ...
  7. Drink more water. ...
  8. Work with a dietitian nutritionist.
5 Jun 2020

What does type 2 diabetes cause? ›

It's caused by problems with a chemical in the body (hormone) called insulin. It's often linked to being overweight or inactive, or having a family history of type 2 diabetes.

What is the fastest way to reverse insulin resistance? ›

Fasting for at least 16 hours gives the body a chance to rest and allows blood levels of insulin to drop significantly. Not only does this help burn fat, it can also lower your risk of disease, particularly diabetes and pre-diabetes.

How can I reverse insulin resistance in my diet? ›

Swapping out saturated and trans fats for healthy ones can lower insulin resistance. That means less meat, full-fat dairy, and butter, and more olive, sunflower, and sesame oils. Low-fat dairy. With low-fat milk and plain, nonfat yogurt, you get calcium, protein, and fewer calories.

Can metformin reverse insulin resistance? ›

Metformin is widely used to improve insulin resistance in women with PCOS, although it is well known that its mechanism of action is more complex. Insulin resistance with its compensatory hyperinsulinemia has provided the rationale for off-label use of metformin to treat affected women (13).

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