Can I get rid of my diabetes with changes to my diet?

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Nadine Pazder
Nutrition & Dietetics

In many cases through diet and exercise you can control diabetes to the extent that serum glucose levels are normal without taking medication but this is not a cure. If you were to drop your exercise program and relapse into old patterns of eating your previous pattern of elevated serum glucose levels will return.

It is important to remember that type 2 diabetes is a progressive disorder. Even when you are doing everything right over time you may require an oral medication or insulin to maintain glucose control.

William Lee Dubois
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

I think we really need to be very clear here, even at the risk of depressing you. Diabetes never goes away. It is chronic, meaning permanent. And it is progressive, meaning it tends to get worse over time.


We don’t know how to “get rid” of diabetes. There is no cure. Instead we treat diabetes, and one treatment that does work for many people is a change in diet. You would still be diabetic, but it is possible you could go for years, maybe even decades, without taking medications if you are a Type-2 Diabetic. (If you are a Type-1 you need insulin immediately and for your lifetime.)


How well changes in diet will work for you, frankly, depends on how bad your diet is. The other day I was working with a young man who drinks, kid you not, six 20-ounce Mountain Dew sodas daily. Each bottle has 290 calories (remember that food labels display calories and carbs for a serving, not a container. Most soda servings are considered to be 8 ounces, so a 20 ounce bottle has two and a half “servings”). So his sodas total up to 1740 calories. To keep a stable healthy weight, that only leaves him with 260 calories per day for food.


If your diet looks like his, you are actually in luck. Simply switching to diet soda would be all you would need to do to lose weight, which in turn lowers insulin resistance, which in turn helps keep your blood sugar in check.


The bottom line is that how healthy your diet can get really depends on how healthy your diet is now.


If you eat poorly and are overweight, changes to your diet may help you put your diabetes genie back in the bottle.

Weight loss, through diet and exercise, very often improves insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control, which are two things in diabetes that are not working as well as they should. In fact, weight loss may eliminate the need for medical treatment of the condition, but your health care provider may still consider you diabetic as you may continue to have an abnormal response to a high-sugar meal. However, your blood sugar patterns will improve significantly and your risk of diabetes complications and associated disease (heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure) can be dramatically decreased with a healthy diet and more activity.

Continue Learning about Diabetes

Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.