Yes You Can Prevent, Control, And Reverse Type 2 Diabetes!Reading Time: 5 minutes
Individuals with type 2 diabetes have high blood sugar either because they don’t make enough insulin or insulin is not utilized efficiently. After eating a carbohydrate meal, the pancreas makes insulin in response to rising blood sugar, insulin released aids in the absorption and utilization of glucose in the blood. In individuals with type 2 diabetes, there is high blood glucose level due to low insulin and/or insulin insensitivity. Consequently, cells in the body are deprived of energy and this impairs their function.
Abnormally high levels of glucose eventually lead to damage of various organs in the body, accounting for the many complications of diabetes.
The following factors may put you at risk of DM:
- Family history of diabetes. Having any parent or sibling with diabetes means you have higher chances of diabetes when compared to people with no family history.
- Being overweight or obese. According to a study by Narayan et al, body mass index of 30 and above increases an individual’s risk of diabetes. 5
- Age: being 45 years or older.
- Prediabetes. You have prediabetes if your blood sugar is higher than normal values but not as high as to be diagnosed with diabetes.
- Having high blood pressure.
- Hyperlipidemia. Having high level of fat in your blood.
- Gestation of diabetes. You have gestational diabetes if you have diabetes during pregnancy.
- Sedentary lifestyle.
If you are at risk of diabetes, now is a good time to start making choices that will help you delay or even prevent diabetes.
Symptoms of diabetes may be so mild that it goes unnoticed. Many individuals with DM rarely get diagnosed early until after the onset of complications. Complications often occur in individuals with poorly controlled diabetes, and include kidney failure, peripheral neuropathy (burning sensation or reduced sensation over hands and leg), foot gangrene, blindness, erectile dysfunction, cardiovascular disease. Healthy lifestyle and eating right can help prevent or control diabetes mellitus.
We recommend these preventive measures.
1. Weight loss.
Lose weight and keep it off! Losing about 5-10% of one’s weight is highly beneficial in preventing diabetes 1. Weight loss is the most important factor in diabetes prevention plan. With each kilogram of weight you lose, your risk of developing diabetes reduces by 16%. It is important to maintain your weight loss by keeping the weight off and one of the ways to ensure this is to follow a diet plan you actually enjoy so it’s easy to stick to.1
2. Dietary modification.
Eat right! The right diet is crucial in maintaining healthy weight, keeping blood glucose within normal values curbing the use of medications. Diets rich in nuts and extra virgin olive oil, Mediterranean style diet have been shown to prevent type 2 DM. Do away with processed foods. Sometimes, in the bid to eat healthy, some people especially those leading busy lives, may resort to eating canned fruits and vegetables. These processed foods are very harmful to one’s health due to the chemicals including preservatives. It is highly beneficial to only consume fresh fruits and vegetables, foods rich in fiber, whole grains, beans and nuts.
Low carbohydrate diet. It is impractical and somewhat unnecessary to cut carbs out of your diet completely. Consuming a high carb meal causes a fast and sharp rise in your blood sugar. Plant based diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains, have low glycemic index, as such they keep blood sugar within normal values. Complex carbs such as brown rice, quinoa and oatmeal, are high in fiber, digest rather slowly keeping you full for longer, and preventing a sharp rise in your blood sugar while promoting weight loss.
Very low energy diet (VLED). VLED consists of a diet with <800 kcal/day containing all daily nutritional requirement. Research reveals that it is a better weight loss dietary plan in diabetics and is highly effective in maintaining long term glucose metabolism. The weekly weight loss achieved on VLED diet is between 1.5-2.5 kg/week. VLED is safe and effective in diabetics with other chronic conditions such as hypertension. 6
Ultimately, set realistic diet plans. Eat healthy alternatives of things you love. Seek out recipes that have been modified for diabetics. Remember to keep a food journal, that way you can review your diet and make adjustments as appropriate.
3. Exercise Regularly.
It is advised to exercise for at least 30 minutes for at least 5 days a week.1 Physical exercise improves insulin sensitivity by inducing the muscles to absorb glucose from the blood up to several hours after exercise. Effect of exercise on insulin sensitivity is maximized with regular exercise. Research has shown that resulting in sustainable glycemic control compared with control in less active individuals. 4
4. Quit smoking and alcohol.
Research has shown that smoking increases one’s risk of diabetes mellitus type 2. Smoking is associated with central obesity, increased inflammation and oxidation stress that damage the cells that make insulin in your body. Smoking increases the risk of diabetes by 44% in average smokers and the risk of diabetes in individuals who smoke more than 1 pack a day. (3). According to the UKPD study, diabetics who smoke are at a high risk of developing congestive heart disease. Individuals who quit smoking reduced their risk of Diabetes to 13% after 5 years of quitting cigarettes. Alcohol reduces your body’s sensitivity to insulin. It can damage the pancreas which is the organ responsible for producing insulin resulting in diabetes. Alcohol contains high amount of calories and would increase your chances of gaining weight. 7,8
5. Visit your doctor
If you think you may be at risk of diabetes, it is necessary to visit your doctor. He/She will conduct some tests to ascertain if you have abnormal glucose levels and provide you with the appropriate management.
The American Diabetes Association recommends screening for diabetes if :
- You are 45 years old or older and overweight.
- You are younger than 45 but have a family history of diabetes or lead a sedentary lifestyle.
- Hamman RF, Wing RR, Edelstein SL, et al. Effect of Weight Loss With Lifestyle Intervention on Risk of Diabetes. Diabetes care. 2006;29(9):2102-2107. doi:10.2337/dc06-0560.
- Nicola D. Guess. Dietary Interventions for the Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes in High-Risk Groups: Current State of Evidence and Future Research Needs. Nutrients 2018, 10(9), 1245.
- Chang SA. Smoking and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Diabetes & Metabolism Journal. 2012;36(6):399-403. doi:10.4093/dmj.2012.36.6.399.
- Bird SR, Hawley JA. Update on the effects of physical activity on insulin sensitivity in humans. BMJ Open Sport — Exercise Medicine. 2016;2(1):e000143. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2016-000143.
- Narayan K.M.V et al. Effect of BMI on Lifetime Risk for Diabetes in the U.S. Diabetes Care 2007 Jun; 30(6): 1562-1566.
- Mustajoki, P. and Pekkarinen, T. (2001), Very low energy diets in the treatment of obesity. Obesity Reviews, 2: 61-72. doi:10.1046/j.1467-789x.2001.00026.x
- Shah, J 1987, ‘Alcohol decreases insulin sensitivity in healthy subjects’, Alcohol and Alcoholism, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 103-109.
- NHS Choices website. Type 2 diabetes. The Information Standard member organisation.