Can you Reverse Type 2 Diabetes with Diet and Exercise?
United Arab Emirates has one of the world’s highest prevalence rates of diabetes. Even more surprising? Almost half of those living with the disease don’t realise they have it. This is why it’s important that November, globally celebrated as Diabetes Awareness Month, puts a much needed spotlight on the condition.
Something else that’s come into sharper focus? The fact that, while there’s no miracle cure for diabetes, studies have revealed that diet and exercise can put type 2 diabetes – the kind that’s often caused by lifestyle factors – into remission.
Understanding type 2 diabetes
Before we explore the benefits of a lifestyle shift, let’s take a moment to understand what type 2 diabetes is. In brief, it develops when your pancreas fails to produce enough insulin. Known as the messenger hormone, insulin communicates with your body, instructing it to move the sugar in your blood into your cells where it can be used as energy. When you develop type 2 diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t create enough insulin and your cells become resistant to this hormone’s important message. As a result, the sugar languishes in your blood resulting in symptoms like excessive thirst, hunger and fatigue. If left untreated, type 2 diabetes can wreak havoc on your body, damaging the blood vessels in your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves.
Most people who eventually develop type 2 diabetes will first encounter prediabetes, where blood sugar levels are elevated but not yet at the diabetes threshold. The good news is that prediabetes is almost always reversible with a switch to a healthier lifestyle.
The keys to reversal: Weight loss and exercise
While the journey towards type 2 diabetes sounds dismal, weight loss is a proven weapon. Those who shed any excess kilograms and maintain a healthy weight stand a very good chance to experience remission to the point where they don’t need to rely on medication. Better yet, if you’ve been recently diagnosed and haven’t yet required insulin to manage your condition, your chance of a successful weight loss-driven remission is even higher.
While weight loss is the most important aspect in any attempt to reverse type 2 Diabetes, exercise is your star supporter. Research has shown that all forms of exercise are equally effective as reducing the average blood sugar values in people with diabetes. Interestingly, studies have shown that exercise still lowers these values even in those who don’t lose weight.
One study found that participants who aimed for 10,000 steps a day and got at least 2 and a half hours of moderate exercise each week while cutting 500 – 750 calories from their daily diet achieved near-normal blood sugar levels without medication. Encouragingly, many of them managed to sustain these levels in the long-term, highlighting the transformative power of a healthy lifestyle shakeup.
Prevention is still better than cure
In the grand narrative of any quest for healthy living, prevention is still the hero of the day. Those who maintain a healthy diet and get regular exercise have a very low risk of developing type 2 diabetes. So get those steps in, sign up for the exercise class that sounds the most enjoyable and embrace a lower-calorie diet. If you feel like you need help with getting on track, consider investing in yourself by working out with one of our personal trainers. At the end of the day, your health is your crown and it’s time to wear it with pride.