According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), over 30 million people in the United States are living with diabetes, and 9 out of 10 people re prediabetic but unaware of it. These statistics are unsettling, to say the least. Especially when you consider that diabetes, if not managed properly, can lead to heart disease, blindness, kidney disease and nerve damage. No wonder diabetes is one of the top 10 public health issues in the country!
What is Diabetes Exactly?
Diabetes is actually a group of diseases that involve challenges with insulin production and use. Insulin is an important hormone that your body uses to regulate the amount of glucose in the blood.
There are two main types of diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes happens when your body’s own T-cells attack the pancreas and damage what are called beta cells. These beta cells are responsible for producing the hormone insulin, which regulates blood glucose levels. While this autoimmune disease can affect adults, it generally presents in young children and teens.
It is believed that 3 million Americans suffer from Type 1 diabetes. Currently the cause of the disease is unknown and sadly, there is no cure. Those with type 1 diabetes are required to take insulin every day.
Type 2 Diabetes
Unlike Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes mostly affects adults. Although with the recent rise in obesity among children and teens, we are seeing more cases of type 2 diabetes in young people.
Type 2 diabetes is also different from type 1 because the patient’s pancreas is able to produce insulin, but their body has become resistant to using this insulin. The result is that, if left unchecked, blood glucose levels rise to dangerously high levels.
The good news is, unlike type 1 diabetes, we do understand what causes type 2 diabetes and we know it can be prevented and even reversed. This means if you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it’s not a life sentence and you are not destined to eventually develop heart or kidney disease or go blind.
Reversing type 2 diabetes and reclaiming your life can happen for you if you commit to making the following 5 lifestyle changes.
1. Eat Right
It’s kind of shocking how many people have type 2 diabetes and still eat garbage. I guess they think since they’re taking insulin that gives them license to eat sugary foods and carbohydrates? Eating processed foods that are bad for you is certainly a choice you are free to make, but it’s not one that will help you be healthy and free from this disease.
Preventing and reversing diabetes is absolutely dependent on your diet. Your first step must be to clean up your diet and switch to eating wholesome, nutritious foods that are high in healthy fats and low in carbohydrates. A ketogenic diet has been shown to be very effective at managing blood glucose.
However you choose to clean up your diet, here are a few musts you must do:
- Cut out sugar and refined carbohydrates. This includes packaged foods, fruit juices, white bread, pasta, etc.
- Stop eating fast foods
- Stop drinking soda and alcoholic beverages
Right after you cut out the junk from your diet, you need to start moving your body more. Exercise is, without question, one of the most important things you can do to prevent and reverse diabetes.
Any exercise is better than none, so to start, don’t focus too much on which kind is best. Just get your body moving. This could mean taking a walk each night around the block after dinner. Taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator. Biking with your kids. When you begin to get in better shape, then you can think about cranking your workouts up a notch or two.
High Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT) is a great way to condition your body. The idea is you do intervals of intense training followed by intervals of rest. To illustrate, you may run as fast as you can for one minute, followed by walking for one minute. Run, walk, run, walk.
Weight lifting is also great because the more muscle you have on your body, the more revved up your metabolism becomes. Strength training has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels.
Again, don’t think too hard about it to start or you’ll end up quitting before you even begin. Just make sure you move your body every day for about 20-30 minutes.
3. Try Intermittent Fasting
You’ve no doubt been brainwashed like most people into believing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that skipping meals is the worst thing you can do for weight loss and health. The truth is, intermittent fasting is a fantastic way to become healthier than you’ve ever been and lose weight. In fact, some doctors, like Dr. Jason Fung, are big proponents of fasting and use it on their patients to help them reverse diabetes.
There are different ways you can practice intermittent fasting. Spend some time researching and try different protocols to see which feels best to you.
4. Quit Smoking
Studies have shown that smoking makes it more difficult for you to control diabetes. Did you know that people with type 2 diabetes that also smoke are far more likely to suffer from serious complications? Quitting smoking will help you gain better control over your blood glucose levels.
When we are under stress, our bodies react by releasing “fight or flight” hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which increases our respiratory rate. This response can help you run from a bear or fight off an attacker. But when we’re dealing with chronic stress from mounting bills and nasty commutes, this chemical response wreaks havoc on our body, even in healthy people.
But when you have diabetes, the results can be even worse. Fight or flight responses end up taxing the body and you begin to become unable to process glucose correctly. The result is your blood glucose levels rise to dangerous levels.
It’s hard to completely stay away from stress, that’s just part of life. But be sure you find ways to de-stress. Luckily you’re exercising, which really helps. But try other things like meditation, massages, deep breathing exercises and spending time in nature.
While I highly recommend these five things to reverse your type 2 diabetes, I must say that you should always consult with your physician before beginning a new diet, fasting or exercising. Work with your physician to find the right plan for you.
Having said that, it’s important to educate yourself as much as possible so you can advocate for your own health. There is a lot of bad information out there, and sometimes, even our own doctors may be working from old paradigms.
To fully understand what diabetes is and how you can absolutely reverse it, I highly recommend picking up the book Simple Blood Sugar. It was written by a doctor who has had incredible success getting her own diabetic patients off of their bolus insulin for good. If you want to be fully armed and educated so you can be your own health advocate and reverse your type 2 diabetes, pick up a copy of Simple Blood Sugar right now.