Type 1 diabetes requires lifelong insulin therapy — there’s no way around that. But type 2 diabetes is different. With the right lifestyle changes and medication, you can manage your symptoms and live a fairly normal life. Does that mean you can reverse type 2 diabetes if you try hard enough?
Yes and no.
Here to explain, Dr. Venkata Vallury and Dr. Visalakshi Vallury at Redwood Family Health Center in McKinney and Farmers Ranch, Texas, offer some insight into this hopeful news.
Diabetes comes in four main types: type 1 diabetes, prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is an incurable autoimmune condition where your pancreas doesn’t produce insulin. Prediabetes is the precursor to the onset of type 2 diabetes, and it can be reversed. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and usually goes away after delivery.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of the disease, accounting for about 95% of all cases. If you have type 2 diabetes, your pancreas still produces insulin, but your cells don’t respond to it as they should — in other words, they become insulin-resistant.
So, your pancreas kicks into high gear to crank out more insulin trying to trigger a response. This floods your blood with excess glucose and results in a type 2 diabetes diagnosis and a long list of unpleasant complications, such as vision problems, heart disease, kidney disease, and nerve damage.
If hearing the news that you may be able to reverse your type 2 diabetes has you jumping for joy and planning a celebration party, we’re glad that you’re excited to pursue better health. However, “reversible” doesn’t mean “curable.”
A more accurate term would be “remission.” Here’s why.
Once you develop type 2 diabetes, even if you work hard to get your symptoms under control, it can always return. That said, recent research offers you and millions of other type 2 diabetes patients great hope.
The latest study indicates that the pancreatic cells, called beta cells, responsible for your insufficient insulin production, may not be permanently damaged, at least not in the early stages of the disease. The study also found that removing excess fat from those cells can restore their normal function. The key is serious weight loss and belly fat reduction, in particular. This means that if you lose considerable weight, you may be able to put your diabetes into remission just like 32% of the participants in the study.
Extreme weight loss can improve your health in multiple ways, not the least of which is helping you achieve type 2 diabetes remission. However, although remission may sound like a cure, it’s not. The genetic factors that make you predisposed to diabetes still exist, and if you’ve been living with diabetes for a while, it’s likely your pancreatic beta cells are permanently damaged. Remission doesn’t change that.
Despite those unchangeable variables, drastic weight loss can return your A1C (average blood sugar level) numbers to a prediabetes range or a no-diabetes range — under 6.5%.
If you have type 2 diabetes and are struggling to lose excess weight, we can help. Our team can develop guidelines that help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and lose weight safely, focusing on balanced hormones, proper nutrition, and regular exercise.
To learn more about how to put your type 2 diabetes into remission, schedule an appointment by calling our friendly staff or booking online today.