How Can You Reverse Type 2 Diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is a term used in reference to not just one condition, but a group of conditions that have an effect on the way your body processes blood sugar, or glucose. Blood sugar is critical for your health because it’s the source of energy for your muscle/tissue cells. Plus, it is the main source of fuel for your brain. There are 2 types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2- there’s also gestational diabetes, but that’s another discussion.
Regardless of the type of diabetes you have been diagnosed with, it all boils down to you having too much glucose in your blood- which can cause some serious health problems for you. Many people- especially those who have diabetes- wonder if it’s possible to reverse type 2 diabetes. Check out Diabetes Escape Plan to learn more.
Causes of Diabetes
In order to understand this condition, you must have an understanding of the way that your body typically processes glucose and insulin.
First of all, glucose is sugar and is the main source of energy for the cells in your body. Glucose stems from 2 sources: your liver and food. Sugar absorbs into your bloodstream where insulin (see below) helps it enter the cells. Your liver makes and stores glucose. Then, when your glucose levels are low, your liver begins to break down the glycogen that it has stored so that your glucose levels stay where they need to be.
Insulin is a hormone that is made in your pancreas. Your pancreas makes the insulin and sends it out into your bloodstream. Then, the insulin circulates through your body, which allows sugar to get into your cells- and decreasing the amount of sugar in your bloodstream. As your glucose level drops, the secretion of insulin from your pancreas decreases as well.
What Causes Type 1 Diabetes?
Unfortunately, it’s not clear what exactly causes type 1 diabetes. Researchers do know that your immune system- which is there to protect you from harmful viruses and bacteria- attacks and destroys the cells in your pancreas, leaving you with little to no insulin. This means that instead of being sent into the cells of your body, the sugar/glucose builds up in your bloodstream.
Researchers believe that type 1 is caused by a combo of environmental factors (which are unclear at this time) and genetic susceptibility.
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What Causes Type 2 Diabetes & Prediabetes?
When it comes to type 2 diabetes and prediabetes (which leads to type 2), your cells develop a resistance to insulin and your pancreas no longer makes enough insulin to get past the resistance. So, instead of moving into your cells to be used, the sugar builds up in your system.
The medical community is not sure why this is happening- though it’s thought that perhaps environmental and genetic factors play a role. Being overweight is linked to type 2- but not everyone who develops type 2 is overweight.
Over time, you could develop complications with your diabetes. The longer you have the condition, and the less you control your blood sugar- the higher your risk of developing complications. Eventually, these complications can become life-threatening. Some of the possible complications include:
- Cardiovascular Disease
Diabetes significantly increases your risk of developing cardiovascular issues such as angina, stroke, atherosclerosis, and heart attack. Individuals who have diabetes are much more likely to experience a stroke or heart attack than those that do not.
- Nerve Damage/Neuropathy
Tiny blood vessels known as capillaries nourish the nerves and the walls can be injured when you consistently have high glucose levels. This can result in burning, tingling, pain, or numbness that typically begins at the tips of your toes/fingers and spreads up. If this is left untreated, you could end up losing all feeling in the affected limbs. You may have issues with constipation, nausea, and diarrhea if there is damage to the nerves related to digestion. Erectile dysfunction is common in men who have diabetes.
- Kidney Damage/Nephropathy
Your kidneys contain millions of blood vessel clusters that pull waste from your blood. Diabetes can significantly damage this filtering system. If there is severe damage, it can cause kidney failure or kidney disease which could mean that you will need dialysis or even a transplant.
- Eye Damage/Retinopathy
Diabetes can do damage to the blood vessels in your retina, which could potentially lead to blindness. In addition, diabetes increases your risk of other serious vision problems such as glaucoma and cataracts.
- Foot Damage
Nerve damage and poor blood flow in your feet multiplies your risk of a variety of complications related to the feet. When left untreated, blisters and cuts can turn into serious infections which often don’t heal quite right. This could lead to amputation of the toe, foot, or leg.
- Alzheimer’s Disease
Type 2 diabetes also increases your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. If you are not controlling your blood sugar, your risk will increase. Though there are some theories as to how the two conditions are related, none have been proven.
Getting Ready for Your Appointment
If you are experiencing symptoms of diabetes, it’s a good idea to visit your primary care physician and if your child is showing symptoms of diabetes, take them to see their physician. You will most likely be sent to the emergency room if your glucose levels are extremely high.
On the other hand, if your glucose levels are not high, you will most likely be sent to an endocrinologist that specializes in the treatment of diabetes and other endocrine disorders. Following your diagnosis, you will be sent to meet with a diabetes educator and a dietician to get more info on how to manage your condition. To prepare for your appointment and know what to expect, here is some information:
When you schedule your appointment, find out if there’s anything you need to do in advance, such as restricting your diet.
Take a few minutes to jot down the symptoms you are experiencing, even if they don’t seem to be related. In addition, record any personal info such as recent life changes or major stresses. If you are monitoring your glucose levels, bring them with you.
List any allergies you have, along with the vitamins and supplements you have been taking. Make sure that you also take a record of your family history, taking note of relatives that have had strokes, heart attacks, or diabetes.
Care and Treatments
Depending on the type of diabetes that you have, oral medications, insulin, and blood sugar monitoring may be involved in your treatment plan. Other important factors in managing diabetes are participating in regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and consuming a healthy diet.
- Diet/Eating Habits
Contrary to popular belief, there’s no specific diet for diabetes. One thing you will need to do is focus more on whole grains, veggies, and fruits and reduce your consumption of refined carbs, sweets, and animal products. In fact, the whole family could benefit from a diet like this. As long as you count sweets in the meal plan, they are acceptable on occasion.
Learning how much and what you can eat can be a bit of a challenge. A registered dietician will be able to assist you with creating a meal plan to fit your health goals, lifestyle, and food preferences. This plan will likely include counting carbs, especially with type 1 diabetes.
- Exercise/Physical Activity
Everyone needs to be getting regular aerobic exercise- whether they have diabetes or not. Exercise decreases your glucose levels because it moves glucose into your cells where it can be used for energy. In addition, physical activity increases your insulin sensitivity which means that your body doesn’t need as much insulin to transport glucose into your cells. Make sure to get the OK from your physician for physical activity. Try to get at least 30 minutes most days- and if you’ve been inactive for some time, make sure you start slowly.
Type 1 & Type 2 Diabetes Treatments
Type 1 diabetes treatment involves using an insulin pump or insulin injections, counting carbs, and checking glucose levels frequently. Type 2 diabetes typically involves monitoring glucose levels along with taking insulin and/or diabetes medications.
- Monitoring Glucose Levels
Depending on your plan for treatment, your physician may recommend that you check your glucose levels several times a week t several times a day. Carefully monitoring your glucose levels is the only way to ensure that your levels remain on track. Individuals who are receiving insulin therapy may choose to monitor their levels with a glucose monitor. Though this doesn’t replace the glucose meter, it can offer important info regarding glucose level trends.
Keep in mind that even when you’re carefully managing your glucose levels, they can change without warning. With help from your treatment team, you will learn how your glucose levels change in response to a variety of factors.
Individuals who have type 1 diabetes require insulin in order to survive, and many who have type 2 diabetes may require insulin therapy as well. There is a variety of insulin available including fast-acting, long-acting, and intermediate options. Depending upon your needs, your physician may prescribe a combination to use through the day and night.
Since your stomach enzymes interfere with the action of insulin, you cannot take it orally to lower your glucose levels. Typically, it is injected using an insulin pen or a fine needle and syringe. Your physician may also recommend an insulin pump, which is a device the size of the average cell phone that is worn on the outside of your body. You program it to deliver specific amounts of insulin and can adjust it to deliver more or less based on activity level, meals, and glucose levels.
- Oral/Other Medications
In some cases, your physician may prescribe oral or other injected medications. Some of these medications will encourage your pancreas to produce/release more insulin and others reduce the amount of glucose that is produced/released by your liver. Finally, some medications block the breakdown of carbs or increase your insulin sensitivity.
For some individuals with type 1 diabetes, a pancreas transplant may be recommended. Researchers are also studying islet transplants. If the pancreas transplant is successful, you may not require insulin therapy- but the transplant is not always successful and the risks are high with this procedure. In order to avoid rejection, you will need a lifetime of immune-suppressing medications. These medications can have side effects including cancer, injury to organs, and an increased risk of infection. Since the side effects are worse than the diabetes, a transplant is for those who cannot control their condition and who also need a kidney transplant.
- Bariatric Surgery
Though not specifically a treatment for type 2 diabetes, bariatric surgery could benefit individuals who have a BMI higher than 35. Individuals who have undergone gastric bypass typically see a significant improvement in their glucose levels. However, be aware that the long term risks and benefits of this procedure for type 2 diabetes is not clear.
Home Remedies & Lifestyle Changes
You must understand that diabetes is a very serious condition. You must make sure that you pay close attention- and are committed- to your treatment plan. When you carefully manage your condition, it can reduce your risk of life-threatening complications. Regardless of the type of diabetes you have been diagnosed with, you must:
- Be committed to managing your condition and learn all you can. Find a diabetes educator to help you learn more and ask for help if you need it.
- Choose foods that are healthy to maintain a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, losing just 7% of your body weight can significantly increase your glucose control.
- Commit to getting some sort of regular exercise every day. Getting adequate exercise can prevent borderline and type 2 diabetes- and for those who already have diabetes can help them get control of glucose levels. It is recommended that you get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.
If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, here are some lifestyle tips to keep in mind:
- Wear identification that states you have diabetes and keep a glucagon kit close by in case you experience low blood sugar. Make sure that your friends/loved ones know how to use it.
- Schedule regular physical and eye exams because your regular diabetes checkups are not meant to replace these. During the physical, your physician will screen for complications related to your condition as well as other medical problems.
- Make sure to keep vaccinations up to date and always get a flu and pneumonia vaccine.
- Take good care of your feet- wash them gently every day in lukewarm water. Make sure that you gently dry them, getting between your toes. Use lotion, but don’t get it between your toes. Check daily for swelling, blisters, redness, cuts, and sores. If you have a foot issue that does not resolve on its own, consult your physician.
- Keep cholesterol and blood pressure under control by exercising and eating healthy foods. You may need to consult with your physician about medications to help with this.
- Make sure to care for our teeth, as diabetics are likely to develop gum infections. Make sure to brush/floss at least 2x/day. If you have diabetes, make sure to have regular dental exams. If your gums are bleeding or appear to be red/swollen, be sure to see your dentist immediately.
- If you use tobacco, ask your physician for tips on quitting, as smoking increases your risk of a variety of complications. Plus, a smoker with diabetes is much more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than a diabetic that does not smoke.
- If you consume alcohol, make sure that you are responsible. Alcohol can cause your glucose level to spike or bottom out, depending on how much you drink and if you are eating at the same time. A good rule of thumb to follow is 1 drink/day for women of all ages and men 65+ and up to 2 drinks/day for men under the age of 65. Always make sure eat when drinking. Finally, make sure to include the carbs in your daily carb count and check glucose levels before bed.
- Make sure that you work to decrease stress levels as much as possible. Your body produces stress hormones that could keep insulin from properly functioning. This increases your glucose levels, which stresses you out even more. Give yourself clear cut limits and put your tasks in order of priority. Learn some techniques for relaxation and make sure to get adequate rest.
Diabetes is a group of conditions that has an effect on the way your body processes glucose and insulin. If you’re not careful, it can get out of control and cause a host of complications. Though you can’t really do anything to reverse it, there are things you can do to control it and you may even go into remission with type 2 diabetes. Check out the Diabetes Escape to learn more about how to properly manage your diabetes.
Our Top Pick For Fighting Diabetes
The Best Diabetes Escape Plan!