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Is Type 2 Diabetes Reversible?

Is Type 2 Diabetes Reversible?

Nearly 40 million Americans have diabetes, according to the CDC, and another 98 million Americans have prediabetes, a condition that makes them far more likely to develop diabetes in the future. Most of those individuals have type 2 diabetes, a metabolic condition that happens when your body has difficulty controlling your levels of blood sugar (glucose).

There are three primary types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes, a type that can develop during pregnancy. Between 90-95% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, the type that’s also associated with being overweight or obese.

If you’re one of the millions of people with type 2 diabetes, you may be wondering if the condition is reversible or curable. While there isn’t a cure (yet), some people with type 2 diabetes can go into remission - a “phase” where symptoms are no longer present.

At Harbor Community Health Centers, our team helps people with diabetes take steps to manage their disease and improve their overall health and wellness. Here, learn the basics of type 2 diabetes and what it means to go into remission.

Type 2 diabetes: The basics

Just like the other types of diabetes, type 2 diabetes happens when there’s an imbalance between insulin and glucose. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas that helps regulate glucose by making it easier for cells and tissues to absorb and use it as an energy source. 

In type 2 diabetes, your pancreas makes insulin, but your body doesn’t absorb it as well, possibly due to “side effects” associated with obesity. As a result, glucose builds up in your blood, increasing your risks of kidney disease, vision loss, and other types of organ damage. High glucose levels also impair natural healing, making you more prone to hard-to-heal sores and dangerous infections.

Type 2 diabetes was once almost only found in overweight adults. But today, as a result of rising rates of childhood obesity, it’s also diagnosed in kids and teens.

How remission happens

While we can’t cure type 2 diabetes, there are things you can do to help your symptoms go into remission. The key to achieving remission is to manage your insulin and glucose levels using a custom diabetes management plan focused on your health, goals, and lifestyle.

Our team designs diabetes management plans on a patient-by-patient basis, but these plans include the following components for most people.

Healthy eating plan

Most people know that if they have diabetes, they also have to watch their intake of carbs and sugars. But to successfully manage type 2 diabetes and achieve remission, you need to do more.

Ideally, you want to focus on a diet focused on nutrient-dense foods, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. Be mindful of portion sizes so you’re consuming only the calories your body needs and can effectively process.

Weight loss or weight management

Fatty tissue releases hormones, making it harder for your body to process glucose. Losing just a small percentage of body weight can yield major benefits. 

Regular physical activity

Notice we said physical activity, not exercise. That’s because many people associate exercise with hours at the gym or other strenuous activity. To help manage your diabetes, it’s not so much the type of activity you engage in but how consistent you are. 

Joining a gym (or exercising to YouTubeTM videos) is fine, but walking, swimming, bicycling, dancing — even gardening and yoga count. Choose a low-impact aerobic activity you enjoy so you’re likelier to stick with it. 

Sleep hygiene

Sleeping well is important for managing stress, stabilizing your mood, and avoiding unhealthy eating. Sleep is also a time when your body repairs damage. If sleep is impaired, your hormone levels, including insulin levels, can be affected. The CDC website offers tips to improve your sleep hygiene, and there are many more tips online.

Medication, like insulin, as needed

Finally, if you need to use insulin or other medication, be sure to stick to your schedule. Depending on your health profile, our team may recommend other medications to manage your blood sugar or help you lose weight.

Take steps to manage your diabetes

If you have diabetes, having a personal management plan is essential for your health. To learn how we can develop a plan for you, call 310-547-0202 today to schedule an appointment with the Harbor Community Health Center team at one of our two locations in San Pedro, California

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