I’m often asked the question if I think a chronic disease, such as diabetes can be reversed. And my answer is emphatically yes. It’s not wishful thinking; it’s based on my experience, and a lot of research most doctors don’t know about.
Usually when a person is diagnosed with diabetes (type 2 adult onset), they’re told that they will be on medications for the rest of their life and that the disease will get worse. They are usually told to monitor their diet, loose, weight and exercise, without a lot of help. And most people have great difficulty doing so. There isn’t a lot of motivation if you’re told, you’re only going to get worse.
However, my experience is that it doesn’t have to be this way, and if you give your body what it needs, it will heal/reverse the dis-ease.
Most of us don’t realize, that dis-ease occurs as a response to the environment that our cells and organs are living in—an unhealthy one, where there is no ease. Dis-ease is really a sign of weakness. When the cells are returned to ease—they will restore our bodies to health. It’s just that simple, yet powerful.
Do Diet and Lifestyle Interventions Really Work?
Two studies regarding diabetes published in major medical journals (and there are many more), reveal exactly that.
One looked at the Mediterranean diet, in people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes, a low–carbohydrate Mediterranean diet CMD) resulted in a greater reduction of HbA1c levels, higher rate of diabetes remission, and delayed need for diabetes medication compared with a low–fat diet.
The study involved, overweight, middle-aged men and women with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes were randomized to a low-carbohydrate Mediterranean diet or a low-fat diet.
After 4 years, participants who were still free of diabetes medications were further followed up until the primary end point (need of a diabetic drug); remission of diabetes (partial or complete); and changes in weight, glycemic control, and cardiovascular risk factors were also evaluated.
Mediterranean Diet vs. Low Fat Diet Findings
The primary end point was reached in all participants after a total follow-up of 6.1 years in the low-fat group and 8.1 years in the LCMD group; median survival time was 2.8 years and 4.8 years, respectively.
Those on the Mediterranean diet were more likely to experience any remission (partial or complete), with a prevalence of 14.7% during the first year and 5.0% during year 6 compared with 4.1% at year 1 and 0% at year 6 in the low-fat diet group.
Another study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association sought to examine the association of a long-term intensive weight-loss intervention with the frequency of remission from type 2 diabetes to normal blood sugar (glucose) levels.
The 4 year study compared an intensive lifestyle intervention with a diabetes support and education control program among 4500 obese adults with type 2 diabetes.
Lifestyle and Education Options
The lifestyle intervention included weekly group and individual counseling in the first 6 months followed by 3 sessions per month for the second 6 months and twice-monthly contact and regular refresher group series and campaigns in years 2 to 4. While the education and support group offered 3 group sessions per year on diet, physical activity, and social support.
Partial or complete remission of diabetes, defined as transition from meeting diabetes criteria to a normal or non-diabetic level of glycemia (fasting plasma glucose <126 mg/dL and hemoglobin A1c <6.5% with no antihyperglycemic medication). At the end of the first year, the Intensive lifestyle intervention participants lost significantly more weight than the education and support group participants and had greater fitness increases.
The ILI group was significantly more likely to experience any remission (partial or complete), during the first year and 7.3% at year 4, compared with 2.0% for the DSE group at both times points. Among the lifestyle participants, 9.2% had continuous, sustained remission for at least 2, at least 3, and 4 years, respectively, compared with less than 2% of education and support participants for at least 2 years; 1.3% for at least 3 years; and 0.5% for 4 years.
The researchers concluded that an intensive lifestyle intervention was associated with a greater likelihood of partial remission of type 2 diabetes compared with diabetes support and education. However, the absolute remission rates were modest.
A look ahead at the future of diabetes prevention and treatmACP Journal Club. An intensive lifestyle intervention increased remission from type 2 diabetes in overweight adults. [Ann Intern Med. 2013]
[Lifestyle intervention in type 2 diabetes: is remission possible? Overcoming thinking barriers–lifestyle interventions have great benefits!]. [Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2013]