Nutrition Tip  
  March 2010
Can I Reverse Diabetes?  

Question and Answer with Marion Franz, MS, RD, CDE; Nutrition Concepts by Franz, Inc
From Diabetes Cooking  March/April 2010

Q- I am seeing more and more diet books promising that I can “reverse” my diabetes.  Is this possible?

A- To answer your question, it’s helpful to review how type 2 diabetes develops.  Over a number of years, individuals become insulin resistant- largely caused by excessive body fat, especially fat in the abdominal area.  But as long as their bodies can make enough insulin to overcome the resistance, blood glucose levels remain normal or in the pre-diabetes range.  However, over time in individuals who are genetically at risk for diabetes, their pancreas is unable to make enough insulin.  This is called “pancreatic exhaustion.”  The pancreas still may be making higher than normal levels of insulin, but not enough to keep blood glucose normal.

At this point, if an individual can lose some weight and become physically active, their blood glucose levels often return to normal.  However, research has shown that if insulin deficiency continues, eventually medications or insulin, along with lifestyle changes, are needed to control blood glucose levels.  The need for medications or insulin isn’t a “diet” failure, but instead is a failure of the pancreas to be able to make the amount of insulin needed to keep an individual’s blood glucose normal.

Although some “diet books” may call this reversal of diabetes, most health-care providers do not.  What’s important is that you keep your blood glucose as close to normal as you can, regardless of what you call it. This requires attention to what you eat, being physically active, and taking medications – for many, insulin.

 

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