FIT Explains: Can You ‘Reverse’ Your Diabetes?

We all know someone who has diabetes and we have all, at some point or the other, feared ‘could I get it?’

Not just in your genes, you might even find the answer to that question in the mirror.

As the pace of life accelerates, we often tend to neglect our health. Quick fix meals, a lack of exercise and ignoring your body’s warning signs have gifted us the global epidemic of ‘lifestyle diseases’.

One of these lifestyle diseases, that effects over 300 million people worldwide, is Type 2 diabetes.

But its not all bad news and not all hope is lost because if your bad choices caused it, it also means that changing those could reverse it.

This World Diabetes Day, 14 November, FIT speaks to Dr Anoop Misra, Chairman, Fortis-C-DOC Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology, who explains if Type 2 diabetes is reversible, and to what extent.

Also Read: 1 in 10 Indian Children Show Early Signs of Diabetes: Survey

It All Comes down to Your Choices

So what even is Type 2?

This is the most commonly prevalent type of diabetes. It is usually diagnosed in adults and develops gradually over years.

90% of those suffering from diabetes have Type 2.

The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes are very similar to Type 1 except that they don’t arise quite as suddenly and may often go unnoticed.

Warning signs to look out for:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Excess hunger
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

Because the onset of the symptoms is slower in this case and easy to overlook, it is important to keep a close eye on your blood glucose levels using a monitor.

Moreover, Type 2 diabetes is almost always a direct result of poor lifestyle choices such as poor eating habits, a lack of exercise and obesity. With evidence suggesting a strong correlation between obesity and this variety of diabetes.

Excess calories leads to excess fat in the liver and this in turn makes the liver respond poorly to insulin and produce too much glucose.

Excess fat in liver may further be passed on to the pancreas, causing insulin producing cells to fail.

Also Read: How Type 2 Diabetes Turned My Life Upside Down

So Is It Really Reversible?

Your lifestyle may be taking you down a dark path but there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

Because, yes, the reversibility of Type 2 diabetes can be reversed.

“Yes, this is now viewed as reality as there is ample evidence that it can be reversed.” says, Dr Anoop Misra of Fortis Hospital

Type 2 Diabetes has been found to be reversible for up to 10 years after it’s onset, and it is particularly effective in the pre-diabetes stages. Since it is a disease that stems from excess body weight, weight loss is seen as the key to tackling it.

According to Professor Roy Taylor at Newcastle University, UK, who has been studying the condition for four decades, losing even less than 1 gram of fat from the pancreas through diet can restart new production of insulin, effectively reversing Type 2 diabetes.

Body Fat: Your Foe... But Also Friend?Dr. Anoop Misra, Chairman, Fortis-C-DOC Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology “Even if a person has a strong family history of diabetes and is obese (BMI more than 30 or so), then it can be reversed.”

So, patients of Type 2 diabetes who are obese are more likely to be able to reverse the condition as the ‘reversal’ process relies heavily on losing weight in order to trigger normal kidney and pancreas function.

What Does It Take?

According to Dr Misra, the goal is to lose weight and any method that is effective in achieving this can be considered. Some of the most viable options include bariatric surgery, exercise and a strict hypocaloric (low calorie) diet.

“However, those with a very strong genetic predisposition, or marked fat inside the abdomen may not respond as well.” Dr Misra added.

Also Read: High Fibre Diet Cuts Cholesterol In Type 2 Diabetes Patients

Prevention Is Indeed Better Than Cure: Controlling Pre-Diabetes

The key to effectively tackling any disease is catching it early before it escalates to a point of no return.

Keep an eye out for the early symptoms and regularly monitor your blood sugar levels, especially if you have a genetic disposition for developing diabetes. If you are among the latter, something you should keep an eye out for is ‘pre-diabetes’.

What Is Pre-Diabetes?

People with pre-diabetes have blood sugar levels consistently higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.

According to the National Health Portal of India here is the range of blood sugar levels and glucose tolerance in a normal, pre-diabetic and diabetic person:

Reversibility Doesn’t Mean ‘Cure’Dr Anoop Misra“Cure means it will never occur again at all, which cannot be said as true in the case of any type of diabetes.”

While a ‘cure’ implies a definitive end to a medical condition, ‘reversibility’ in Type 2 diabetes does not work that way.

A person with Type 2 Diabetes can have a normal life as any, free of medication and insulin injections only as long as they stick to their prescribed lifestyle changes and don’t slip back into their old ways.

Which is why its important to not abandon your diet and exercise routine even after you have successfully ‘reversed’ your condition.

Also Read: Type 2 Diabetes Is a Silent Killer, Could You Have It?

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