Can type 2 diabetes be reversed?

Dr Petra Simic
Clinical Director - Health Clinics at Bupa UK
08 November 2017

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This article is more than three years old. It reflects the best available evidence at the time of publication.

Can type 2 diabetes be reversed? You might have read about this recently in the media. The recent media buzz surrounding this involved a small study in which 30 participants who had type 2 diabetes went on a very low calorie diet for eight weeks. The diet was very strict, consisting of shakes and non starchy vegetables, and participants were very closely monitored by doctors. This was extremely important because attempting this kind of restrictive diet is potentially dangerous.

The participants were regularly monitored and helped to gradually reintroduce normal foods into their diet. The results have shown promise – 12 people, after six months, had reversed the condition.

It’s ground breaking research because type 2 diabetes is complicated and it’s long been thought that it was a lifelong condition. However before we get too excited, the research is at very early stages and much more needs to be done. Furthermore the participants in this recent study were carefully selected according to specific criteria, so it’s not clear if a diet intervention like this would be suitable or safe for everyone.

It’s really important if you have type 2 diabetes and take medication that you discuss any planned dietary changes with your doctor, nurse or dietitian. Each individual is different and some medications for diabetes aren't compatible with sudden changes in your diet without close monitoring.

But don’t lose heart if you have type 2 diabetes and feel disappointed. You can live well with the right care and support. Developments in diabetes care, including reversing the condition are on the horizon. For example, since this study, more research is underway with a larger group of people. Studies like this take time to make sure that any recommendations made in the future are safe.

Tips on managing type 2 diabetes

Living with diabetes can be difficult, so we’ve put some tips together to help you manage this condition.

Have regular health checks

Type 2 diabetes can put you at risk of other health conditions, like heart disease. So it’s important to have regular check-ups with your GP and talk to them about any changes or concerns you have.

Exercise regularly

Taking part in regular exercise will help you manage your diabetes. Exercising can help lower your blood glucose levels, so your body’s insulin will work better. It can also improve your overall physical and mental wellbeing.

Make meal plans

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important if you have diabetes, so planning your meals will help. There’s plenty of meal ideas available on websites like Diabetes UK which can help you get some inspiration.

Limit your alcohol intake

Try to avoid drinking more than the recommended amount because alcohol can affect your blood sugar levels. Both men and women aren’t advised to drink any more than 14 units per week.

Try to keep your weight down

Eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising regularly will help you to maintain a healthy weight. There are some great apps out there, like My Fitness Pal that can help monitor your diet and exercise regime. Alternatively, you could keep a food diary. But talk to your GP and dietician about managing this as they’ll be able to tailor advice specifically to you and your situation.

Talk to those around you

Living with diabetes can be difficult, especially if you’ve only just been diagnosed. Talking to your friends and family is a good idea, so you’re not managing this condition on your own. There are plenty of support groups or forums out there too.

Do you know how healthy you truly are? Bupa health assessments give you a clear overview of your health and a view of any future health risks. You'll receive a personal lifestyle action plan with health goals to reach for a happier, healthier you.

Dr Petra Simic
Dr Petra Simic
Clinical Director - Health Clinics at Bupa UK

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