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Sugar Spilling Over
Put very simply, Type 2 Diabetes is a disorder where our body cannot adequately process the sugars we cram into it.
Though some of us are more genetically predisposed to this condition, our heavily processed Standard American Diet, jam-packed with processed grains and sugars, places a massive strain on our pancreas and cells. Eventually, the sugar-processing systems of our body give up, resulting in high insulin resistance and high blood glucose.
Then begins the lifelong struggle of “managing blood sugar levels” with medications.
Unfortunately, these medications do little to fix the sugar overload problem – all they do is mask it. Type-2 Diabetes is an environmentally-driven condition – only diet and lifestyle will reverse it, not medications which only treat the symptoms. So, can you reverse type 2 diabetes? Yes, you sure can! Lets dig in to find out ways on how to reverse type 2 diabetes.
Eliminate The Cause
The might of the processed food lobby can be gauged from the fact that American Diabetes Association while promoting a careful watch on fats and the glycemic index of foods (the speed at which different foods turn to glucose in our body), does not have much to say about processed carbs. They advocate keeping blood sugar balanced, through regular carbohydrate intake, that is then dealt with by medications which have side effects when used over the long term.
Why would we not just take away the cause, take the load off the pancreas, allow the body to heal itself back to balance and do away with the meds?
3 Steps to Freedom!
If T2D is a disease where our body can’t eliminate the heavy load of sugars from our diet effectively it stands to reason that the way out should be simple enough. Reversing type 2 diabetes without medication isn’t easy but it certainly is achievable with the right amount of discipline and a positive attitude towards health and life.
- Don’t put the sugar in (change your diet)
- Burn off what’s already in (exercise and fasting)
- Stress Less, Sleep More (create an anti-inflammatory internal environment)
STEP 1: Don’t Put The Sugar in – Change Your Diet
In order to do this, we need to understand where the sugar comes from. Yes, we all know that the sneaky chocolate bar, soft drink and cookie contribute sweetness and sugar, but what we forget about (or don’t know) is that all the starchy food you consume during the day – bread, cereal, rice, crackers, pasta, potatoes – also breaks down into glucose (sugar). It’s actually these processed carbs that contribute to most of the sugar load in your diet leading to increased blood sugar and weight gain.
The optimum strategy is to eat little or no refined carbohydrates.
But Then, What’s Left to Eat?
What happens if you remove the blood sugar-raising foods? What’s left then?
For starters, all this:
- Lean proteins: meats, fish, nuts, seeds, eggs, legumes
- Vegetables: any and all
- Fruit: not too much due to its high sugar
- Healthy fats: fish, avocado, olives, oils, seeds, nuts
- Dairy foods: good quality cheese, butter, milk, yogurt
- Whole grains: Brown rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat
- Pure Water or herbal teas
STEP 2 Burn It Off – Exercise And Fasting
Exercise – A Little Goes a Long Way!
Exercise is an absolutely essential factor, and without it, you’re unlikely to get this devastating disease under control. A Cochrane Review compiling data from fourteen different studies assessing the effect of exercise on type-2 diabetes concluded, “exercise improves blood sugar control and this effect is evident even without weight loss. Furthermore, exercise decreases body fat content, thus the failure to lose weight with exercise programs is probably explained by the conversion of fat to muscle. Exercise improved the body’s reaction to insulin and decreased blood lipids”.
Regular Meals or Regular Fasting?
The American Diabetes Association advocates people to “space meals evenly through the day and not skip meals”. They promote the theory that spreading out foods, especially carb-containing foods, over three meals each day (plus several small snacks a day) can help maintain steady blood sugar levels.
Sadly, these guidelines seem to serve the medical practitioners more than the patients. When patients are on diabetes medications, their blood sugar levels can be more easily monitored and the medication dosage and timing more conveniently adjusted, if the blood sugar levels are kept relatively high through regular meals through the day.
This approach does little to combat the underlying cause of the disease itself – which is too high an intake of dietary sugar, that then can’t be processed by the body naturally.
If instead, we choose to keep our blood glucose lower, by reducing the sugar load and allow our body to take back control and settle back into balance, then we shouldn’t require the medications. Our blood sugar should regain balance through natural processes and a short time without food should be more than manageable and in fact, beneficial.
One of the ways we can help our body to reset itself is intermittent fasting. Celebrity BBC Anchor and diabetes expert Michael Mosley, M.D., reports that this way of eating effectively mimics the eating habits of our ancestors.
Research shows that fasting produces a number of biochemical benefits, including improved insulin sensitivity, lowered triglycerides, weight loss and reduced sugar cravings.
According to Jason Fung, M.D., fasting is a simple and speedy way to force your body to burn off stored sugar for use as energy, maximally lower insulin and ignite the flames of fat burning. Research suggests that restricting daily eating to a specific window of time, such as an eight- to twelve-hour window (i.e. 8am -8pm) allows the body to shift over from burning sugar to burning fat as its primary fuel.
We are not advocating a “cold turkey” approach to this big change, especially if you are on medications. Nor are we saying you should throw your medicines away. We’re saying that the doctors who are achieving fantastic results in reversing diabetes using this common sense approach seem to know something the others don’t.
The transition to periods of fasting may need to be undertaken slowly and always, in conjunction with a whole food (unprocessed food) diet. Always consult your doctor prior to starting a fast if you are taking prescription medications.
STEP 3: Stress Less, Sleep More
Address any underlying emotional issues or external stressors and get 7-8 hours sleep per night. Insufficient sleep appears to raise stress and blood sugar, encouraging insulin resistance and weight gain. A 10-year long study published in Diabetes Care in 2003 that had followed 70,000 diabetes-free women, found that women who slept less than five hours or more than nine hours each night were 34 percent more likely to develop diabetes symptoms than women who slept seven to eight hours each night.
Make Up for Any Dietary Insufficiencies
- Optimize your vitamin D levels – Recent studies have revealed that getting enough vitamin D can have a powerful effect on normalizing your blood pressure and blood glucose and that low vitamin D levels may increase the risk of diabetes.
- Optimize your gut flora – Our gut bacteria can have an influence on inflammation, insulin resistance and appetite control and balancing gut bacteria may have a positive influence in diabetes. Look to add a high-quality probiotic as a daily habit.
- Increase omega-3 fats and reduce omega 6’s – Eat good amounts of fatty fish, fish oil, krill oil, flaxseed and walnut oil and avoid canola, corn, peanut, sunflower and safflower oils. As a supplement, doses of 3-4grams of Omega 3 are recommended.
There are several other dietary supplements that can help you. If you are not yet diabetic or on medication, you may be able to adopt this plan without much difficulty. Many who try these healthy living principles for a few weeks find:
- Improved blood sugar levels
- Increased satiety and weight loss
- Reduced sugar cravings
- Increased energy
If this approach of reversing Type 2 Diabetes without medication appeals to you as simple common sense, take it to your doctor and discuss a plan. If you are asking the question “How to get rid of diabetes type 2?” a holistic approach that includes diet, exercise and will to achieve lasting health can surely help you find the right answers.