Reversing Type 2 Diabetes

There are an estimated 4.5 million people in the UK with diabetes and around 700 people a day being diagnosed with it, now if that doesn't make you sit and think nothing will. Around 90% of people in the UK who have diabetes have Type 2 Diabetes which is normally due to being obese/overweight and leading an unhealthy lifestyle. Most people with Type 2 diabetes will take some form of tablets to control their symptoms, but studies have shown that it may be possible to reverse your symptoms and put yourself into remission through a change of diet and exercise. 

What is type 2 Diabetes? 

When we eat carbohydrates, the sugar is converted to energy and used when we are performing physical activities and in our day to day lives. Our pancreas creates the hormone Insulin which is used to balance your blood sugar levels and turns this sugar you eat into energy for the body. However, with type 2 diabetes, your pancreas is producing the the insulin but the cells are not able to use it properly and this creates insulin resistance. Eventually it gets to a point where the production of insulin cannot keep up with the amount of sugar and the sugar builds up in your blood instead of being used for energy. Symptoms of diabetes include fatigue, excessive thirst and frequent need to go the the bathroom, however people with type 2 diabetes can also be at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Who is at risk? 

If close relatives have type 2 diabetes you may be at more of a risk, however the main causes of the disease are being overweight and a lack of exercise. Being obese accounts for around 80% of the risk of having type 2 diabetes and with nearly 2 in 3 people in the UK being overweight or obese (a pretty scary fact) it means that the rate of type two diabetes is also increasing. The ever increasing amount of refined carbohydrates and sugary foods we are consuming means that our blood sugar levels are spiking and poor old insulin can't keep up. Plus with a lot of people not doing the daily recommended amount of exercise, we are not using enough of the sugar as energy and it is instead stored as fat. 

Low carb diet 

It may be possible to put type 2 diabetes into remission through a low carbohydrate diet. The theory behind this is that if you aren't eating foods that produce a lot of sugar, there is less of a need for insulin, therefore lowering insulin resistance. A study in 2014 at the Second University of Naples put patients on a low carb, Mediterranean diet and 15% of patients were in remission after one year and 5% after 6 years. This may not seem like such a high percentage, but with around 700 people a day in the UK being diagnosed it doesn't seem like such a bad idea to give the diet a go. 

Very low calorie diet 

Another diet that has proven to show signs of reversing type 2 diabetes is a very low calorie diet. This is more extreme than the low carb diet but has some potentially exciting outcomes. in 2011 scientists at Newcastle University places people with type 2 diabetes on an 800kcal diet consisting mainly of meal shakes and vegetables. 7 out of 11 of the participants achieved remission which included weight-loss and reduced insulin resistance. 

Further studies have shown the possibilities of this diet working have been proven in rodents with type 2 diabetes when their calorie intake has been reduced to 1/4 of the usual daily amount. Professor Roy Taylor at Newcastle University discusses how excess calories contributes to excess fat in the liver which means it does not respond well to insulin and as a result produces more glucose. Then as this fat moves into the pancreas, the cells that produce the insulin stop working as well, meaning if there were less calories and less fat, there is a decreased risk of damage in the liver and pancreas. 

Overall, studies are showing that leading a healthier lifestyle, meaning a balanced diet reduced in refined carbohydrates and plenty of exercise means you are at less of a risk of getting type 2 diabetes. However if you do have the disease and are looking of ways to better your symptoms through diet and wellbeing, speak to your doctor first before embarking on a new diet because although I do the research I am just a health blogger and there is no Dr before my name. 





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