Diabetes is a chronic condition that has emerged as one of the growing health challenges in the 21st-century. Till very recently it was believed that Diabetes is a chronic, incurable disease that lasts your whole life. “Once a Diabetic, always a Diabetic.” The reality however is that, while diabetes is a serious condition, each individual has a unique representation in terms of causes, risk factors, type of diabetes and complications. Hence it requires personalized management tailored to target your specific needs and issues.
“A good life is a process and not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination”
Adapting this quote to reflect the present scientific advances made in the management of chronic care, a fitting interpretation would be that on the road to Diabetes, no matter how far you've traveled, you can always halt, turn around and return to living a healthy life.
Type 2 Diabetes is a progressive metabolic disorder, which means it doesn't appear overnight. It starts with small changes in your metabolism even long before it's diagnosed, and gradually worsens over time leading to a stage where your body is unable to self regulate. This leads to an insufficient insulin secretion and build-up of sugar levels in your blood. Having high blood sugar levels is termed Hyperglycemia and leaving it unmanaged or untreated leads to tissue damage in susceptible organs, resulting in T2DM and secondary complications that affect your eyes, kidneys, feet and heart health. Scary right? How one little thing like being at risk and not eating healthy can lead to you going blind, having a stroke or needing a limb amputation!
But Wait! Silver Lining Alert! Evidence Based Studies have shown that it is possible to stop this progression and work towards successfully preventing and Reversing Type 2 Diabetes.
So, What is Diabetes Reversal?
“Diabetes Reversal” is a term that has found its way into the lexicons of scientific journals along with topping the list of most searched buzzwords for Diabetes or Obesity related Diabetes. But make no mistake, it deserves all the accolades coming its way and more. This breakthrough has given new hope to individuals with Type 2 Diabetes and Prediabetes of being able to get back to living a healthy, stress-free normal life.
How will you know if your Diabetes has been Reversed?
If you have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes (HbA1c >6.5%) and are able to show a significant improvement in insulin sensitivity for an extended period of time by bringing your HbA1c under the threshold of 6.5% without the use of any glycemic control medications (Antidiabetic medications), you have successfully Reversed Diabetes. So Yes! Diabetes can be reversed!
Does that mean you are now cured?
Although the words cure and reversal may seem contextually similar, they don't mean the same things. The term cure implies that the original pathophysiology or cause of the condition is completely eliminated and there is no chance of it recurring again.
For Example | Last year, Mr. Rao was diagnosed with Atherosclerosis; a progressive cardiovascular disease that resulted from a build-up of fats and cholesterol in and on his artery walls. This plaque had gradually built-up to the point where it was now obstructing the blood flow to his heart, and required surgery . Mr. Rao underwent an Angioplasty and was fitted with a coronary stent. The surgery was successful, the blockage was removed and the stent holding up his arteries enabled that the blood flow to his heart was restored. Now Mr. Rao is back home, tending to his garden, playing with his grandchildren and back to living his regular life. But, does that mean Mr. Rao is cured.? While it's true that he has gotten back near-normal physiological function of his arteries, the pathology of his collapsed arteries still remains. So if Mr. Rao does not follow a healthy diet and lifestyle needed to maintain his cholesterol levels, history will repeat itself, plaque will again start to build up and may now block the placed stent itself restricting blood flow yet again.
Similar to Atherosclerosis, Type 2 Diabetes is also a progressive condition, which develops over a long period of time, starting with insulin resistance. Consistent high blood sugar levels over time lead to your pancreatic beta cells becoming dysfunctional, causing irreversible damage to your tissues and susceptible organs. But Type 2 Diabetes can be reversed by restoring your blood glucose levels to a normal range again. This doesn't mean diabetes has gone for good, but it is now in your control to keep and maintain it at normal levels through a healthy lifestyle.
What is the scientific reasoning behind how Diabetes Reversal is achieved?
Before we go into the science behind reversal, let's take a step back, and think about the time when the sun shined bright, the skies were a clear blue and your Metabolism was great! Remember that? No? Then lets first brush up on the workings of your Carbohydrate Metabolism, and how it lost its way. Normally, your Blood Glucose, also called Blood Sugar, levels rise after you eat. Your pancreas then release insulin into the bloodstream, which then lowers your Blood Glucose back to normal range.
Here’s a simple illustration of how Carbohydrate Metabolism normally works.
So what causes your metabolism to become disordered?
To understand Carbohydrate Metabolism in detail and what causes it to become disordered, check out our article Metabolism 101. A short version goes like this.
The hormone insulin helps control the amount of glucose or sugar in the blood. Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, body fat and liver start resisting or ignoring the signal that the hormone insulin is trying to send out—which is to grab glucose out of the bloodstream and put it into our cells. Hence, Glucose can't enter the cells as easily, and builds up in the blood and eventually leads to type 2 diabetes.
The vicious cycle of Insulin Resistance is like a tough maze; easy to get in but a struggle to get out of. Evidence Based Studies show that the only way obesity-related Type 2 Diabetes can be reversed, is by creating a break in this continuous cycle of Insulin and Glucose insensitivity. By doing this, you will be taking the strain off your insulin-producing cells, giving them a chance to recuperate and at the same time regulating your blood glucose levels by allowing your cells to absorb the energy they need.
To learn more about the causes, effects, prevention and management, check out our article on Insulin Resistance.
Now that you're all caught up with the basic workings of your Metabolism and Insulin Resistance, you finally know how your bright happy days took a dark turn and led you down this scary tunnel called diabetes. But like we said before, don't fret! We see a light at the end of this tunnel - and it's getting brighter. But how? In a nutshell, you need to target all the factors causing the Insulin Resistance, and make your cells responsive to insulin again. Does that seem like something that's easier said than done? Fortunately it's not, and can be achieved by following Seven Essential Practices that are backed by evidence based studies and endorsed by authorized health agencies worldwide.
Presenting the SugarFit Super Seven!
The SugarFit Super Seven is a set of Seven curated interventions, cherry-picked from clinical trials and published research studies, that have been tried, tested and proven to be effective in reversing diabetes. Let's examine them individually to understand what each one of them entails.
1. Dietary Interventions
Studies have shown that an effective and sustainable way to reverse Diabetes is by taking a Complex Carb counted, Portion appropriated and sustainable (lifelong) balanced meal plan. This entails consuming a nutrient dense diet, that's rich in fiber and resistant starch. Remember to stay away from generic one-size-fits-all diet plans on the internet and say No to fad diets, processed food sand calorie counting! You are unique and deserve a diet plan that's customized to your preferences and requirements.
2. Progressive Fitness Interventions
The benefit of exercise in improving the metabolic disorders of Type 2 Diabetes is well established. Studies show that metabolic disruption, including insulin resistance and dyslipidemia, stems from alterations in free fatty acid metabolism and is caused by truncal or abdominal obesity. Strength training should be included as part of your weight loss regimen (as required), but it can also be paired with working towards a lean body mass, which has been independently associated with improved insulin sensitivity. Confused about which one to pick? That's where we come in. You need a fitness plan that's progressive and safe for all forms of physical activity. A tailor-made plan consistent with your desires, goals, age, comfort levels and highly effective for the long-term management of Type 2 Diabetes
3. Blood Glucose Monitoring
Blood Sugar Monitoring (BGM) is often called the cornerstone of effective diabetes management. Testing is the only way you can be confident about knowing what your blood glucose levels are at any given time. Regular monitoring is crucial because it gives you enough and more information to be able to manage your blood sugar levels and keep them in check. There are 2 ways your blood sugar levels can be monitored –
a) Self-Monitoring Blood Glucose Monitoring (SMBG)
- Glucose monitoring devices that you will use to check your glucose levels in seconds using only a small drop of blood. usually obtained from pricking your finger with a lancing device and gives measurement of your blood glucose level at a given time
b) Continuous Blood Glucose Monitoring (CGM) - Provides information
- To your provider to adjust or lower your medication.
- To identify high and low levels before serious problems like Hypoglycemia can develop.
- To see and understand the trend of your average blood sugar levels over a period of time. This gives you a positive boost when you see how well you have been managing your sugar levels.
- Tell you how well you are balancing your medications, insulin therapy, meal planning, and exercise to manage your diabetes.
To learn more about CGM and its benefits, check out our article on A Starters Guide to Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) and Low-Sugar Optimal Diet Through CGM
4. Short-term compliance to medication to reduce long-term dependency
The struggle you're going through today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow.
The World Health Organization (WHO) in its 2003 Medication Adherence Report states that adhering to a prescribed treatment is an investment that provides significant and positive returns through primary prevention of risk factors and secondary prevention of adverse health outcomes. T2DM is a progressive disease and, along with diet and exercise, pharmacological therapies are needed to sustain glycemic control and reduce complications.
Diabetes Reversal starts with taking strain off your overworked pancreas to give them a reprieve, some rest, and a chance to heal from the damage caused by high sugar levels so far. The fastest and most efficient way to reduce and normalize your blood sugar levels is through medications. When you skip or stop taking your medications, you are giving up any and all control you have over your blood sugar levels. Left to its own devices, the glucose starts accumulating in your blood and rapidly increasing blood sugar to toxic levels., causing your pancreas to continue producing ineffective insulin until the beta cells wear out and stop functioning. Unfortunately, the damage caused is permanent and irreversible. Since your beta cells cannot be revived anymore, you will have to be put on insulin therapy for life. Compliance in taking your medication regularly now, is quintessential to avoid adverse outcomes and life-long dependency in the future.
5. Weight Loss
Lifestyle modification has long been hailed as being the foundation of Weight Loss; greater the loss, greater the clinical improvement seen. Did you know that weight reduction with lifestyle interventions has been shown to reduce the incidence of diabetes by 58%? Abdominal obesity (belly fat) is a major driver in the development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Weight reduction, therefore, is a key therapeutic goal in both the prevention and management of Type 2 Diabetes. Studies show that even a loss of 5–10% of body weight can improve fitness, reduce HbA1c levels and improve cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. Additionally it can reduce your medications not just for diabetes, but also those used to lower hypertension and high cholesterol.
6. Mindful Habits
“We are what we think, and all that we are arises with our thoughts.” Gautama Buddha
Living with diabetes requires significant adaptation and coping skills. Chronic stress and negative emotions are strong risk factors for development of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Practicing Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction along with lifestyle modification and pharmacological management leads to improvement across all domains of holistic care – biological, psychological and social. Several studies show that having a positive attitude and reducing your stress levels contributes to modest improvements in body weight, glycemic control and high blood pressure in individuals with diabetes.
7. Essential Awareness and Self-care
Studies show that the way an individual responds to challenges has an impact on their clinical outcomes. With Diabetes, the associated challenges are dynamic and change over time, making it essential to develop good problem-solving skills to cope with emerging issues. When you have Prediabetes or Diabetes, you may go through a myriad of feelings that take a toll; both physically and emotionally. Acquiring skills and healthy coping techniques make you aware enough to recognize these emotions as normal and take steps to reduce the negative impact they have on your overall well being. By being aware of the pitfalls, what they are and how they manifest, you can make informed choices, decisions and take the necessary actions to reduce your risk of developing diabetes-related complications.
What happens in the Journey from Start to Reversal?
- Step 1 : Reduction/Normalization In Blood Sugar But The Medication (If Any) Remains The Same.
- Step 2 : Reduction In Both Blood Sugar And Medicines (If Any).
- Step 3 : Hba1c (%) Is More Than 6 And The Medication is Reduced
- Step 4 : Hba1c (%) Is More Than 6 And The Medication Has Stopped.
- Step 5 : Hba1c (%) Is Less Than 6 And Medication Has Stopped.
- Step 6 : Hba1c (%) Is Less Than 6, Medicine Has Stopped And improved Insulin sensitivity.
- Step 7 : Blood Sugar Remains Normal Irrespective of Dietary fluctuations (Excellent Fitness).
The path to Diabetes Reversal can be demanding and overwhelming, so the first step is believing it's possible! Start by learning about the why’s, what’s and how’s of your condition. Recognize that Insulin is your friend; who has, and still continues to work tirelessly to make sure you never run out of energy. Right now, he needs you to take a stand, show that you have his back and help him get back to his glory days. Like all good things in this world, this doesn't come easy. It requires time, patience, commitment and perseverance to stay and continue on the right track. There will be times when your friendship is tested and you may feel tempted to just give up, but remember, the fate of your friend is in your hands. Ironically, you choosing to take a path of least resistance, affects your friend inversely by making your cells even more resistant to insulin and can keep him locked out forever. So stay positive and remember anything that's worth doing, should be done well. To find out more about your path back from diabetes, visit SugarFit.com!