Can I reverse the effects of type 2 diabetes?

Carol Cottrill
Nutrition & Dietetics

In the same way an unhealthy diet causes type 2 diabetes, a healthy eating plan and regular exercise can reverse it.   

Once again we can learn from our friends living in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea — whether Greek, Italian, French or Spanish, a common diet that emphasizes fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, and flavorful herbs and spices; eating fish and seafood at least a couple of times a week; enjoying poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt in moderation; and saving sweets and red meat for special occasions is a tried and true, pleasurable approach to health and longevity.

Begin by shaping your own Mediterranean menu. Perhaps even raise a glass of red wine, and enjoy your pasta al dente. The Italians have that one figured out too- enjoying pasta firm to the bite ensures a lower glycemic inde. You see, the longer you boil pasta, the higher the glycemic index.   

Dining in a relaxing atmosphere, eating whole, real foods slowly and mindfully in balance and moderation is an ideal eating plan whether you’re from the southern United States or the south of France!

Type 2 diabetes causes heart disease, kidney disease, skin and oral health problems, eye problems, erectile dysfunction, and foot problems. While you may not be able to reverse some permanent damage, reducing your blood pressure, controlling your blood sugar, exercising, losing weight and quitting smoking will prevent these problems from getting worse.
Mr. Eliot LeBow, CDE, LCSW
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

Interesting question indeed! I will address the effect of diabetes as it relates to one's ability to produce insulin. From that point of view, I would have to say that you can stall the effects of Type II diabetes but not reverse them. This is dependent on how progressed a person's diabetes is. If a person has prediabetes, I would say yes, for some people, with diet and exercise the effects can be reversed. For others adding medication will help that process.

Like cancer, Type II diabetes can go into remission if caught early enough during the prediabetes stage and lifestyle changes. 

However, by the time a person is diagnosed with Type II diabetes they have been living with diabetes for 5 to 15 years. Every person with diabetes is different chemically and physically so the effects of diabetes progress at different rates. 

For people with Type II diabetes it is very important to understand that, although it can not be reversed, the progression can be slowed down or even stopped with lifestyle change and proper medication management. So listen to your CDE's, doctor's, RN's, nutritionists & dietitians. Healthier eating and daily exercise will reduce your chances of getting further complications.  

Ronald Tamler, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

Some patients with type 2 diabetes can reverse the disease, especially if they are overweight and lose extra pounds. In this video, Ronald Tamler, MD, clinical director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes Center, explains who can reverse type 2 diabetes.

Reza Yavari, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

In the early stages, Type 2 diabetes is reversible in that it can be controlled by diet; but over time, medication is often required. Watch endocrinologist Reza Yavari, MD, explain why it's so important to be monitored regularly by your doctor. 

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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.