Receiving a type 2 diabetes diagnosis can be a shock to your system – in more ways than one. It is the most common form of diabetes that affects approximately 90-95% of all people diagnosed with diabetes1Type 2 Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 14 December 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/type2.html.. When left untreated, type 2 diabetes can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening concerns2Type 2 diabetes – Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Retrieved 14 December 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20351193. and although doctors have confirmed that you cannot cure type 2 diabetes, many studies show that reversing it is a possibility3Can You Reverse Type 2 Diabetes?. WebMD. (2020). Retrieved 14 December 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/can-you-reverse-type-2-diabetes.. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to make major lifestyle and diet changes, as most diabetic regimes would like you to believe. A few small adjustments can make a major difference in your overall health and wellness, including your diabetic condition.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
The first place to start when it comes to learning how to reverse type 2 diabetes or, at the very least, improve your health to lessen the severity of your condition is to understand what’s happening. Type 2 diabetes is a chronic medical condition where blood sugar levels build up in the bloodstream. Typically, in a non-diabetic, insulin helps move the sugar from your blood to your cells, which is then used for energy. With type 2 diabetes, your body’s cells are unable to respond to insulin the way they should4Pietrangelo, A. (2021). What You Need to Know About Type 2 Diabetes. Healthline. Retrieved 14 December 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/type-2-diabetes.. It is different from type 1 diabetes, a chronic condition where the pancreas does not produce insulin, which is needed to control the sugar level in your blood. However, prolonged type 2 diabetes can lead to your body not producing enough insulin as well.
Contrary to popular belief, you can develop both types of diabetes at any age5Cherney, K. (2018). Age of Onset for Type 2 Diabetes: Risk Factors and More. Healthline. Retrieved 14 December 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/type-2-diabetes-age-of-onset#in-childrenand-teens..
Causes of Type 2 Diabetes
With type 2 diabetes, your body essentially resists insulin. However, insulin is a naturally occurring hormone that your pancreas produces and releases to transport sugar from your bloodstream to the various cells throughout your body. In other words, your body needs insulin and type 2 diabetes makes your body resistant to it. When this happens, your pancreas is forced to work harder to make the insulin your body keeps repelling. As you can see, it’s a vicious cycle, and over time, this can damage the cells in your pancreas to the point where it may not be able to produce any insulin at all. And when that happens, sugar (glucose) builds up in your bloodstream. That’s the scientific description of how type 2 diabetes manifests anatomically6Fletcher, J. (2019). Diabetes and the pancreas: Insulin, complications, and function. Medicalnewstoday.com. Retrieved 14 December 2021, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325018..
What Are The Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes?
But what contributing factors can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes? There are quite a few – we’ll call these ‘risk factors’. Many of them are primarily associated with diet, but several lifestyle and mindset risk factors can play a major role. The most ones are:
- Age (over 45)
- Race and ethnicity
- Fat distribution
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- High blood pressure
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
One of the crucial things about type 2 diabetes is that it can develop slowly, and the symptoms aren’t noticed right away. However, there are some early warning signs that you’ll want to look out for, such as:
- Blurry vision
- Constant hunger
- Lack of energy
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Pain or numbness in hands and feet7Leontis, L., & Hess-Fischl, A. (2019). Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms and Early Warning Signs. EndocrineWeb. Retrieved 14 December 2021, from https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/type-2-diabetes/type-2-diabetes-symptoms.
These symptoms can be mild to start, which is why they are easy to dismiss. However, if you have had high blood sugar levels (undiagnosed type 2 diabetes), the symptoms can look a little different, such as:
- Eye problems
- Neuropathy or feelings of numbness
- Kidney disease
- Gum disease
- Heart attack
Risks of Untreated Type 2 Diabetes
Like any serious health condition, many potential risks come with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes. One major risk in particular is that your condition can lead to chronically high blood sugar levels, which can lead to several additional symptoms and even potentially lead to serious complications8Diabetes – long-term effects – Better Health Channel. Betterhealth.vic.gov.au. Retrieved 14 December 2021, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/diabetes-long-term-effects.. This includes:
- Kidney damage
- Eye damage
- Increased risk for heart disease and stroke
- Nerve damage
Treatment Options for Type 2 Diabetes
As you can see, the risks of not treating your type 2 diabetes are certainly not worth it. But now what? When it comes to treatment options for type 2 diabetes, there are several options:
- Prescription medication
- Natural treatment regimes
The first and most commonly prescribed method is the use of prescription medications. While these can effectively help manage your condition, they never get to the root cause, making healing impossible. Most importantly, just a few simple lifestyle changes (and sometimes drastic ones too, depending on the situation) can be enough to keep type 2 diabetes under control and even to begin reversing it9Lemieux I. (2020). Reversing Type 2 Diabetes: The Time for Lifestyle Medicine Has Come!. Nutrients, 12(7), 1974. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12071974.
Tips for Reversing Type 2 Diabetes
Since type 2 diabetes is directly linked to your diet, stress levels and physical activity, making some simple changes that address these three components can make a huge difference in how you feel. While there are many intense dieting regimes and exercise programs out there for type 2 diabetes, try to stick with a practical and sustainable approach. Here are some tips to help you get your health and happiness back on track:
- Avoid refined sugar, grains, cow’s milk, GMO foods, alcohol and hydrogenated oils
- Eat more clean, healthy, natural fata
- Focus on foods high in fiber, chromium, magnesium, clean protein and a low glycemic load
- Drink water, and avoid all of the sugary drinks
- Aim to get 20 minutes of physical activity in each day (whatever you want)
- Take natural supplements that tackle inflammation (such as CBD oil)
- Use natural supplements for type 2 diabetes, such as fish oil, alpha lipoid acid, bitter melon extract
- Limit exposure to harmful toxins and chemicals
- Avoid processed, packaged or frozen foods
- Manage your stress with mindful activities and meditation
Gaining control of your health again doesn’t have to be as complex and extreme as many think. While there’s no denying that type 2 diabetes is a serious condition, some simple changes can go a long way. As a rule of thumb, aim to eat a cleaner diet without all of the modernized foods (packaged, processed and preservatives) and spend a minimum of 20 minutes each day getting your heart rate up. This could be with yoga, stretching, dancing, cardio, a walk around the block – anything you want. And lastly, don’t forget to manage those stress levels and inflammation – two components that are often underestimated but come with many potential risks. There are also many online programs that have pre-made treatment plans designed for you based on what you learn in this article, so you can save time and energy and put it all towards your healing.
- 1Type 2 Diabetes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 14 December 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/type2.html.
- 2Type 2 diabetes – Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Retrieved 14 December 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20351193.
- 3Can You Reverse Type 2 Diabetes?. WebMD. (2020). Retrieved 14 December 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/can-you-reverse-type-2-diabetes.
- 4Pietrangelo, A. (2021). What You Need to Know About Type 2 Diabetes. Healthline. Retrieved 14 December 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/type-2-diabetes.
- 5Cherney, K. (2018). Age of Onset for Type 2 Diabetes: Risk Factors and More. Healthline. Retrieved 14 December 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/type-2-diabetes-age-of-onset#in-childrenand-teens.
- 6Fletcher, J. (2019). Diabetes and the pancreas: Insulin, complications, and function. Medicalnewstoday.com. Retrieved 14 December 2021, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325018.
- 7Leontis, L., & Hess-Fischl, A. (2019). Type 2 Diabetes Symptoms and Early Warning Signs. EndocrineWeb. Retrieved 14 December 2021, from https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/type-2-diabetes/type-2-diabetes-symptoms.
- 8Diabetes – long-term effects – Better Health Channel. Betterhealth.vic.gov.au. Retrieved 14 December 2021, from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/diabetes-long-term-effects.
- 9Lemieux I. (2020). Reversing Type 2 Diabetes: The Time for Lifestyle Medicine Has Come!. Nutrients, 12(7), 1974. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12071974