There’s Actually a Way to Reverse Diabetes—Here’s How You Can Do It
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The condition doesn’t have to be permanent for everyone, research suggests
Can you actually cure type 2 diabetes? Talk to just about any credible source, and it’s typically called a chronic condition—but that may not always be the case, according to a new analysis published in The BMJ.
After reviewing remission criteria, blood sugar guidelines, and recent clinical trials, the authors of the paper found that maintaining a weight loss of 33 pounds can actually reverse diabetes for specific patients.
Past research has led to promising findings. For instance, one Newcastle University study found that limiting diabetic patients to 700 calories a day for two months led to an average 31-pound weight loss. As a result, nearly half of the people studied experienced a significant drop in their blood sugar levels, taking many patients to pre-diabetic levels instead.
When the researchers followed up with those people after 6 months of maintaining their weight loss, they were still diabetes-free.
If you’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, your doctor will generally prescribe medication and offer general advice about improving your diet and exercise—but the key to this study, and others like it, is weight loss. (If you want to shed pounds right now, check out Metashred Extreme from Men’s Health, a series of high-intensity workouts designed to help you burn fat. Or, check out the video below.)
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That’s because too much fat buildup in your pancreas tampers with the organ’s ability to produce insulin, which helps control your blood sugar. When you lose weight, you first lose fat in your organs, Roy Taylor, M.D., author of the Newcastle University study and the recent analysis explained to us last year.
“In the first 10 to 14 kilograms [22 to 31 pounds] of weight loss, this relatively small amount of fat that’s actually within the organs gets used up, and the organs can go back to normal function,” he explained. This helps the cells that produce insulin in your body react more quickly to the sugar in your bloodstream. (Here’s how eating too much sugar messes with your entire body.)
While anyone carrying excess pounds is likely to benefit from some kind of weight loss, that doesn’t mean every person diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can reverse it. Your best chances come within the first five years of being diagnosed, Mike Lean, professor of human nutrition at the University of Glasgow in Scotland and an author of the new analysis told TIME.
He believes weight loss programs that have been proven to work through clinical trials are the most effective method at beating diabetes. If you want to get started with a similar program, talk to an obesity specialist (you can find one here) about your options, since it has become a more recognized treatment option as new research continues to surface.
Additional reporting by Ali Eaves
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