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How Long Does it Take to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in the world. According to the WHO, the number of people affected by diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to over 422 million in 2014. And in 2016, an estimated 1.6 million deaths were directly linked to diabetes, another 2.2 million deaths had been attributed to high blood glucose levels.

The WHO estimates that diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the world. Diabetes is a difficult condition. But it is not impossible to live with. Millions of people around the world are living healthy and productive lives with diabetes without any complications.

So diabetes itself is not much of a debilitating condition but a manageable condition that can be kept under control if the necessary steps are taken.

If you are suffering from diabetes, you don’t have to worry, you can lead a happy and healthy life without constantly having to be concerned about your health and fitness.

By following the proper fitness and diet plan, diabetes can be reversed to almost perfectly healthy levels.

Even though diabetes cannot be completely cured, there are ways it can be suppressed to a level which can be considered as virtually disease-free.

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What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a medical term. Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder. It is characterized by the body not being able to absorb broken-down carbohydrates and sugars after digestion, causing hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar.

Diabetes can be classified into two types: type-1 and type-2. Diabetes has to do with the body’s ability to produce and utilize a special hormone called Insulin. This Insulin hormone is essential, as it stimulates the intake of glucose produced by the digestion of carbohydrates into the body tissue.

If Insulin is produced at a lower amount than necessary, or insulin becomes ineffective and the body becomes resistant to its effects, it causes diabetes.

The ultimate result of diabetes is hyperglycemia, which can give rise to various complications such as peripheral nerve damage, kidney problems, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, loss of vision, and in more serious cases, leading to coma and death.

Diabetes is classified on the basis of impaired insulin function in the body. Type-1 diabetes is characterized by a lack of insulin production. In type-1 diabetes, the body fails to produce adequate amounts of insulin required to maintain the blood glucose level.

Insulin is produced in beta cells, which are a cluster of cells located in the formation called the Islets of Langerhans in the Pancreas. If the cells are somehow compromised, causing little to no production of insulin, the condition is called type-1 diabetes.

Again, when the amount of produced Insulin is not effective for the proper transport of glucose and maintaining blood sugar levels, the condition is called type-2 diabetes.

Type-2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in the world and it is caused due to obesity, high-sugar diet, and to a certain extent, genetic predisposition.

In the case of type-2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin due to excess intake of carbohydrates and sugar. For this reason, type-2 diabetes is a common feature for people also suffering from obesity and being overweight.

What is Prediabetes?

Prediabetes is the precursory condition of Diabetes mellitus. Prediabetes is when your body cannot process sugar properly, resulting in higher than average blood sugar levels.

However, in prediabetes, the level of blood sugar is not high enough to be considered full-blown diabetes. People who develop type-2 diabetes usually have prediabetes which remains undiagnosed and untreated.

Most people don’t even realize that they might have prediabetes because it shows no symptoms. Prediabetes is an important first step in the development of diabetes in an individual. So, it’s very important to diagnose it as early as possible in order to prevent the onset of diabetes.

How long does it take to develop prediabetes?

It’s impossible to tell the exact period of time that prediabetes takes to develop as there are no symptoms. It is estimated that prediabetes turns to type-2 diabetes in 2 to 5 years.

People suffering from prediabetes normally don’t show any symptoms. For this reason, it’s difficult to identify those who have prediabetes and take the necessary steps in time to prevent type-2 diabetes.

However, sometimes symptoms like frequent urination, fatigue, excessive thirst, blurred vision, etc can be seen.

Risk factors of prediabetes include being overweight or obese, having blood relatives or family members who have diabetes, having gestational diabetes during pregnancy, having high blood pressure (above 140/90 mmHg), having high blood cholesterol level, having polycystic ovary syndrome, etc.

If you have any of the above, then you might be at risk of developing prediabetes.

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How long does it take to reverse prediabetes?

Prediabetes can be reversed and type 2 diabetes can be completely prevented by some modifications to lifestyle and habits. The whole process of slowing the progress of prediabetes to type-2 diabetes may take 3 to 6 years.

Blood Sugar Level in Type-2 and Prediabetes

The main diagnostic criteria to determine the state of diabetes or any other glucose-related metabolic disorder is measuring the blood sugar level. This is done by the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT).

In this test, fasting blood glucose measurement is taken after a long period of fasting (for about 8 to 10 hours). Then the patient is given 75 grams of glucose which is taken within 5 minutes.

After this another blood glucose measurement is taken 2 hours later, the rise in blood glucose level between these two tests indicate the metabolic state of an individual.

It’s to be noted that between these two tests, the patient is kept under limited movement and prevented from taking any food or drinks.

If the fasting blood glucose is below 110 mg/dl and after glucose load, it is below 140 mg/dl, then the person is healthy and there is no sign of diabetes.

Again if fasting blood glucose is more than 110 mg/dl but less than 126 mg/dl, and blood sugar after a glucose load is less than 140 mg/dl, this is called Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG).

This is the first indication that the body’s ability to process glucose is to bring impaired. If the fasting blood glucose is more than 110 mg/dl but less than 126 mg/dl and blood sugar after a glucose load is between 140 and 200 mg/dl, this condition is called Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT).

This state shows that the condition has progressed even further and is now very close to full-blown diabetes. This is the most crucial stage where without intervention, diabetes is inevitable.

And finally, if fasting blood glucose is more than 126 mg/dl and 2 hours after glucose load, the blood glucose level is more than 200 mg/dl, the condition is confirmed as Diabetes mellitus.

So it is seen that blood sugar level is a very important tool to diagnose conditions such as prediabetes and Diabetes mellitus.

In order to maintain healthy levels of blood sugar, it is necessary to keep the intake of glucose as low as possible in a moderated way and also perform the adequate physical exercise in order to burn and utilize the glucose present in the blood.

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Symptoms of type -2 diabetes and Complications:

Symptoms of diabetes are mostly caused due to hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar. Diabetes itself is the condition that causes the rise of blood sugar over normal levels. But it itself does not cause any symptoms.

However, hyperglycemia causes various problems in the body and if left unchecked, it may cause many serious and life-threatening complications.

These symptoms are generally the same for both males and females, but there may be some symptoms that are gender-specific.

The common symptoms of diabetes are given below:

  • Increased urinationAs the blood sugar levels are high, the kidneys work harder to remove the extra sugar from the blood by filtering it out. This causes more frequent urination, especially at night.
  • Increased thirst – As urination is increased due to high blood sugar, water is also passed at a higher rate. This causes dehydration and increased thirst.
  • Increases hunger – In diabetes as the necessary glucose does not reach the cells where it’s needed, the body does not get its required amount of energy. This causes increased hunger.
  • Tiredness – As the body is not getting the required amount of energy, as the required amount of glucose is not reaching the cells from the bloodstream, the person feels very tired.
  • Blurred vision – Excess amount of sugar in the blood harms the minute blood vessels in the eyes. This causes blurred vision which may occur in one or both eyes.
  • Delayed healing – Too much sugar in the bloodstream hampers the regular blood flow in the blood vessels. So blood supply to injuries that is necessary for healing is impaired. Thus, the healing of wounds requires more time.
  • Numbness & tingling sensations – Another effect of high blood sugar is damage to the body’s nerve supply. As nerves begin to get damaged, the person may feel tingling and numbness in the hands and feet.
  • Infections – High amounts of sugar in the blood are a great source of food for opportunistic organisms such as bacteria and fungus. So because of high blood sugar, a person is more prone to suffer from various kinds of infections.

The long term complications caused by diabetes-related hyperglycemia areas follows:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Acute kidney failure
  • Retinopathy
  • Loss of hearing
  • Foot diseases
  • Skin conditions
  • Depression
  • Dementia

So to prevent these complications, it is of utmost importance to take preventive measures in order to ensure that Diabetes mellitus is kept under control.

How Long Does it Take to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is a permanent condition. That means till date, there is no cure for it. But diabetes can be controlled to such an extent that all signs and symptoms can be reversed and the disease seems to be virtually gone.

Reversing the effects of hyperglycemia can reduce the strain on your body to produce insulin and in theory, this can allow your body to recover any insulin-related disturbances.

So in a sense, diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be reversed in such a way that the effects of the disease are no longer present.

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Steps you should follow to reverse type-2 diabetes are as follows:

Take regular exercise

Exercise is the ultimate key to controlling diabetes. Exercising helps you lose weight, burn excess calories, keep blood sugar down, and increase your insulin sensitivity. This is why all doctors recommend light to moderate exercise every day to control diabetes.

Moreover, exercising every day keeps you motivated, mentally fit, and ensures your psychological well being.

Moderate your carbohydrate intake

Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and other sugars by digestion. So, the more carbohydrates you eat, the higher your blood sugar will be. To control diabetes you also have to control your carbohydrate intake.

Limiting your carbohydrate will reduce the pressure on your body to produce enough insulin and reduce blood sugar levels.

It is also important to take at least a minimum amount of carbohydrate to ensure your metabolic processes keep running. So moderation is very important, too little or too much can both be problematic.

Take more fiber

Dietary fiber is an essential component of a balanced diet. Fiber is necessary for lots of reasons. But for diabetes, fiber can help supplement carbs to make you feel fuller.

Cutting down on carbs can leave you hungry and feeling empty. But eating fibrous food such as salads and other vegetables will make you feel full and satisfied without any increase in sugar levels.

As fibers do not contain any calorigenic content, you can eat as much as you like without worrying about your sugar levels.

Drink more water

If you have diabetes, your kidneys are working constantly to filter out the excess sugar from your blood and flush it out through urine.

So to keep this process going, keep drinking water. Drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day will ensure that your kidneys remain healthy and the excess sugar is filtered from your blood.

Control your portions

An important psychological step in controlling diabetes is controlling how much you eat. It can be very difficult to suddenly reduce the amount of food you consume. So monitoring the size and serving of each meal can reduce your calorie intake and subsequent blood sugar spikes.

You can control the amount you eat by measuring and weighing portions, using smaller plates, avoiding overeating at restaurants, reading food labels, and checking serving sizes, keeping a food journal, and eating slowly.

 reverse type-2 diabetes

Choosing low glycemic index foods

The Glycemic index measures the body’s blood sugar response to foods containing carbohydrates. The higher the glycemic index of a food, the more the blood sugar will rise after eating it. To avoid high blood sugar, try eating foods with a low glycemic index.

Meat, eggs, barley, oats, beans, sweet potatoes, yams, lentils, fruits, and non-starchy vegetables are great examples of low glycemic index foods.

Control stress

Stress can play a huge role in increasing your blood sugar level. When a person is stressed different hormones such as glucagon and cortisol are released in the body which draws out sugar from muscles and fat.

So methods of controlling stress such as exercise, meditation, yoga, etc. can be very helpful in controlling your blood sugar levels.

Get enough sleep

Managing your sleep cycle is also important in keeping your blood sugar levels normal. During your sleep, hormones such as cortisol and growth hormone are secreted. Poor sleep and waking up intermittently can cause an imbalance in these hormones and raise the blood sugar levels.

Poor quality sleep can also increase appetite and promote weight gain. So it’s necessary to have good sleep, in both quality and quantity.

Monitor your blood sugar

Monitoring your blood sugar levels directly helps you keep it under control. By checking your blood sugar levels regularly, you can make adjustments to your medications, meals, or routine.

This will help you record the effects of different foods on your body and help you manage your blood sugar more effectively.

Medication for Diabetes:

Most people with type 2 diabetes can achieve the target blood sugar levels with proper diet and adequate exercise, but many also need specific diabetes medication.  Which medications advised depend on various factors including blood sugar level, age, sex, other health problems, etc.

If you are a diabetic do not attempt to take any of these medications without the guidance of your physician.

Common medications prescribed to type-2 diabetics:

  • Metformin – It lowers glucose production in the liver and improves your body’s sensitivity to insulin so that your body uses insulin more effectively.
  • Sulfonylureas – Helps your body secrete more insulin.
  • Meglitinides – They stimulate the pancreas to secrete more insulin, they’re faster acting, and the duration of their effect in the body is shorter.
  • Thiazolidinediones – It makes the body’s tissues more sensitive to insulin.
  • DPP-4 inhibitors – It helps reduce blood sugar levels but has a very modest effect.
  • GLP-1 receptor agonists – They slow digestion and help lower blood sugar levels.
  • SGLT2 inhibitors – They prevent the kidneys from reabsorbing sugar into the blood.
  • Insulin – Some with type-2 diabetes need insulin therapy.

Bottom Line

To conclude, you can see that diabetes can be reversed if you follow the guidelines given above. Diabetes doesn’t mean your life is over. If you think of it as a mountain you have to climb, you have to adjust your mindset.

Diabetes is a minor inconvenience, which can actually be an opportunity for you to reshape your life and redefine yourself as a person. So take our advice and live life to the fullest.

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The FAQs About Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

Can type-2 diabetes be reversed permanently?

No, unfortunately, diabetes cannot be permanently reversed. But it can be reversed to a great extent.

How can I reverse diabetes fast?

Diabetes can’t be reversed quickly. Through proper medication, diet, and discipline, you can reduce diabetes gradually.

What foods can reverse diabetes?

Foods with a low glycemic index produce less amount of sugar and reduce blood sugar levels. They can help reverse diabetes

How long does it take to lower blood sugar with diet and exercise?

Without medication and following a strict diet, you can lower blood sugar in 6 to 8 weeks. Always follow your doctor’s advice and proceed according to his instructions.

How long does it take to lower blood sugar without medication?

Medication is necessary to reduce blood sugar quickly. However, without medication and following a strict diet, you can lower blood sugar in 6 to 8 weeks.

Can walking cure diabetes?

Walking is an excellent form of exercise. However, it cannot cure diabetes. But walking briskly for 30 minutes every day can help keep diabetes under control.

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I'm a medical student from Bangladesh. As a doctor in the making, I'm fascinated by the regular advancements of medical science. This fuels my passion for trying to follow a health-conscious lifestyle. I love writing and sharing thoughts and ideas. I hope that my work can reach out and help people to enjoy a healthy, happy life. Muhtasim Munir MBBS (3rd year) Armed Forces Medical College