Being diagnosed with any disease can be a traumatic experience especially if you are told that there is no cure.
Diabetes is one such disease of which there are three different types.
They are types 1 and 2 and then there is Gestational Diabetes. All three are life threatening if not addressed effectively.
Many, on learning of the dreaded outcome inquire; can I reverse my type 2 diabetes?
For a very long time the answer to that question was a resounding no. Today medical practitioners are more careful in their response and there are some who will say “yes, on condition”.
There are some people who have claimed success in completely reversing diabetes and are no longer on any type of medication. Others accept that they will be on insulin and other medication for the rest of their lives and continue where they left off while daily injecting.
Some attempt different changes but do not stick with any one program long enough to achieve success.
Types of diabetes
Have you ever heard about prediabetes? If you have, it could be because you are up to date on this disease – diabetes – as a result of study or because someone you know has been diagnosed as being prediabetic.
Even though it is not a type of diabetes, it is important that it be understood.
So in addition to the three types of diabetes named above – type 1, type 2 and gestational – we will also look at prediabetes here.
It is estimated that 79 million people in the US – 35 percent of the population – are prediabetic.
Being prediabetic means that your blood sugar (glucose) level is just a small percentage away from what would constitute full-blown diabetes. If action is not taken, soon prediabetics become diabetics.
In a special issue of the Vibrant Life magazine titled “How To Beat Diabetes”, Wes Youngberg, Dr.P.H., is quoted as saying that “more people than realize it has at least prediabetes: of people age 40-59, one out of two; of ages 60-74, two out of three; and of those older than 75, three out of four have prediabetes or diabetes”.
You will agree that these are serious figures. Maybe you are wondering if you fall into any of these ranges. The safest way to go is to visit your physician and have a test done.
The results would help you decide if you need to make lifestyle changes or if you can continue as you are living presently. Either way, it is to your benefit to find out. If you are prediabetic, taking the necessary action can save you from progressing to full-blown diabetes and its attending complications.
It would also spare you and your family the mental, physical and financial trauma that diabetics go through.
Research shows that it costs the person diagnosed with diabetes 2.3 times more for medical expenses than for other people. Can you afford that? And even if you could, is it worth being ill so that you can continue to lifestyle you lived or live?
Type 1 diabetes
At one time this type of diabetes was know as juvenile diabetes as it was more frequently found in children, teens and young adults. Today, adults are also being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Persons who have this type are considered to be insulin dependent since the main reason for it is the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin. This is because the immune system of the body, for some yet to be discovered reason, destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.
No cells, no insulin. Since insulin is the key to unlocking the cells so that absorption of glucose can take place, when there is little or none, the cells remain locked. With no way to enter the cells the glucose remain in the blood, thus elevating the blood sugar level.
Current research has pointed to weight, lack of vitamin D, use of dairy products and the “hyper cleanliness and environmental pollutants of modern times” as triggers for this type of disease – Dan Hurley in his book Diabetes Rising.
Others have advanced that a family history of diabetes is a contributing factor since the child’s immune system could be compromised. This would make the pancreas sensitive to immunological reactions. When the child is given dairy milk early in life, antibodies are produced that damage the insulin producing cells.
A suggested solution is the use of foods that contain soy which will help to reduce the production of the antibodies and provide protection for the child from diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes
This type of diabetes is also called adult onset diabetes. It is the most common form of diabetes and can be considered a lifestyle disease. This is because individuals can determine whether or not they contract the disease based on how and what they eat, exercise, sleep, respond to stressors and other life issues.
Though it most often occurs in adults, due to the high obesity rate of teens and young adults, they too are now being diagnosed with this type of diabetes.
Many people with type 2 diabetes do not even know that they have it.
In type 2, the cells build up a resistance to insulin. This results in an excess of it in the bloodstream together with the sugar which is not allowed into the cells.
As the glucose flows through the bloodstream it attaches itself to any available organ or tissue it meets along the way. This interferes with the healthy function of the organ or tissue thereby further complicating the situation.
This ‘slicking’ of the cells is called glycosylation. The proteins of the cells to which the glucose attaches itself is altered and the cells begin to malfunction.
When glycosylation takes place, the body’s white blood cells are activated to fight the threat. Chronic inflammation results which may increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
Insulin is also responsible for the control of vasoconstriction – the narrowing of the blood vessels resulting from contraction of the muscular wall of the vessels – so excess insulin can lead to high blood pressure.
Since glucose attaches to LDL cholesterol cells, it contributes to the formation of plaque in the arteries. This leads to atherosclerosis, which leads to vascular disease, heart attack and stroke.
It is believed that type 2 diabetes can be reversed if you are willing to make the lifestyle changes that would bring about the reversal. This would mean a dietary change that includes a reduction in the use and consumption of fat, avoidance of meat and dairy products and daily vigorous exercise.
Just as how the onset took time to occur, the reversal will take some time, but if you stick to it, renewed well-being can be an unexpected experience for you.
This type of diabetes is found in some pregnant women who otherwise does not have the disease. The blood sugar level is as elevated as someone who has the problem and the person has to be monitored and treated until the termination of the pregnancy.
It is not a condition that should be ignored for it can result in harm to the infant and the parent.
Some persons who suffered with Gestational diabetes have gone on to be diabetic after the birth of the child. Tests should therefore be done after delivery to ensure that the person returns to normal health and that the sugar level is what it should be.
Studies show that women who develop gestational diabetes are at a substantially higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other diseases that accompany it.
Since your lifestyle is most times what determines your diabetic status, in order to prevent it, you need to take a look at your lifestyle as well.
The good news is that it is widely agreed that type 2 diabetes can be prevented if you make wise lifestyle choices. I am confident that you know that ‘prevention is better than cure’.
Vibrant Life tells of a Harvard study of over 84,000 women who were diabetes free and who were followed for 16 years. They were divided into two groups based on lifestyle.
One group contained no lifestyle risk factors for diabetes such as smoking, being overweight, sedentary and having a poor diet.
The other group consisted of women with one or more of these risk factors.
After 16 years, the results showed that the women in the first group were 90% less likely to develop diabetes, even if there was a family history of the disease.
Those are promising and definite figures that show that your lifestyle plays a huge part in your health and in this case, whether you are or become diabetic.
Other studies have shown that even in persons who have developed the disease, effective lifestyle changes can reverse the situation.
So here are some things that you can do to prevent the onset of diabetes (type 2):
- Eat more fibrous foods
- Have a primarily plant-based diet.
- Reduce and limit the amount of saturated fat, trans fat and high cholesterol foods used.
- Choose foods that are not refined or that are low-glycemic.
- Do not smoke. If you do, stop.
- Exercise regularly, daily will be best.
- Find out and achieve your ideal weight.
- Limit the stressor in your life.
- Have scheduled medical checks.
- Drink water instead of sodas.
- Get adequate rest.
- Put your mind into the change.
Overcoming your diabetes
The change that is needful for you to overcome your diabetic problem must first take place in the mind. If you are not convinced that you can turn things around, it will not happen, no matter how many others may want it for you.
Keep in mind that no one ate you into this position, you did it yourself. To recover, you are the one that is primarily responsible. Just as others would have offered you a tub of ice cream for example when all seemed well, and you accepted it, so you will need to surround yourself with those who will remind you that you need to exercise when you don’t feel like taking that daily walk.
And when there is no one to urge you on, you would need to motivate yourself. My sister who is a nurse said something to me a few days ago which I have found quite helpful, “health is an individual responsibility”.
So though it may pain your loved ones to see you suffer in the grip of this disease, you can ease your pain and theirs by making that lifestyle change that can make the difference.
Once you settle it in your mind that you are going to work on reversing the situation, then you need to take action.
That would include getting rid of procrastination. Don’t put it off for tomorrow.
You may need to consult with your doctor as you make those changes but always keep in mind that the final outcome and decision is yours.
The recommendations given above to prevent type 2 diabetes are also applicable in reversing it. Other measures can also be useful such as:
- Seek out a support group or person.
- Educate yourself about the disease, as you are doing now.
- Find out what works best for you as you make your changes.
- You may need to start small, but start.
- For some people, keeping a record of their activities and progress works as motivation.
- Deny yourself that “tasty” treat even when everyone else is having it.
- Eat much less or no meat at all.
- Take a ten-minute walk after each meal.
- Do not lie down and sleep immediately after a meal.
- Do not eat at night.
- For those who work the night shift, the temptation is always there to snack on something. Resist. Try water or a fruit. Some recommend having beans for dinner.
- Refuse to congratulate yourself for your success so far by going back to what you stopped using/doing.
- Make sure you get your vitamin D, especially from the sunlight.
- Be careful with the use of fruit with a high sugar content eg, bananas, mango, papaya, pineapple. These can spike your sugar level.
- No snacks.
These recommendations taken together may seem much and with the wrong attitude, you may choose to become depressed, wondering what you can eat. Then next heading gives you some recommended foods.
Foods to help in the fight
Since diet plays a great part in bringing on diabetes it can also play a similar part in defeating it. The interesting thing is that while you did not need a plan to help you become diabetic, it is advised that you work out one with a dietitian to bring about the change.
There are foods however, that, when used in the right proportion and combination, helps in controlling diabetes and avoiding the complications that come with it.
There are also foods that should be avoided or totally eliminated.
Here is a list of foods to include and maybe increase in your diet:
- Whole Grains
- Wheat Germ
Remove or reduce these foods from your diet:
- Refined baked goods
- Saturated Fat
- Alcoholic Beverages
These recommendations can be found in the book Healthy Foods by George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D.
The use of these foods can result in a reversal of your diabetic condition and return you to a healthy and vigorous life.
Here’s a recipe that you may find helpful as you make that taste bud change toward making yourself a diabetes defeater:
2 1/2 cups low sodium garbonzo beans (fresh cooked or canned), drained
1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed butter)
6 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt (use 1/2 teaspoon if using canned beans)
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
4 ounces canned green chilies, chopped (optional)
Combine all ingredients, except chilies, in a blender. Blend on high speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Pour into a bowl and stir in the chilies. Chill before serving. This can be served as a dip for raw vegetables of spread on whole-grain bread, crackers or pita pockets.
Type two diabetes is the most prevalent of the types of diabetes. Over $245 billion is spent in the US alone on persons who have the disease. Of that $175 billion goes into direct medical bills and $69 billion is racked up as cost as a result of reduced productivity that occurs when sufferers cannot function at optimum.
The good news is that type 2 can be reversed. With lifestyle changes in diet, exercise, rest, sunshine and water intake to name a few, you can see change in you diabetes tests.
With all the attendant complications that come with the disease, you may have come to the conclusion by now that it’s not worth it to hold on to what you have been doing before.
Yes, it requires that you give up some things but they are all things that were ruining your life and destroying its quality.
Don’t you think that you deserve to live a healthier, happier life?
Put you mind into it, make that change.
A man may esteem himself happy when that which is his food is also his medicine. Henry David Thoreau