Is Diabetes Reversible?

Diabetes Self Management Program

Why does Dr. Sarah Hallberg say that "reversing Type 2 Diabetes starts with ignoring the guidelines"? Is Type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance reversible?  Is Type 2 Diabetes something that you need to learn to live with? I agree with Dr. Sarah that many, if not most cases of Type 2 Diabetes ARE reversible.  But in order for this to happen, you need to be following the right set of guidelines.

In 2012, 86 million Americans age 20 and older had prediabetes, which is up from 79 million in 2010.  And those numbers don't include the 29 million adults already diagnosed with diabetes.  

The percentage of American adults with diabetes continues to increase every year.  And even more disturbing, is the number of children that are now being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, which at one time was only considered a disease that affected the elderly.  Why are more and more Americans developing diabetes? 


Whenever we eat a meal that has glucose in it, our pancreas is signaled to secrete insulin, which is a hormone that is like a "key" that allows glucose to enter our cells so it can be used for energy.   Insulin is also a fat storage hormone, that tells our bodies to store glucose as fat, because whatever we don't need for energy will be stored.  The type of carbohydrates that we eat have a huge impact upon the glucose that drives our insulin levels up, so just counting carbs is not always enough. Eat the wrong carbs, glucose goes up- insulin goes up, and you end up with fat storage and then cravings for more carbs, which starts the cycle all over again.  Eventually, the pancreas becomes overworked, and cannot keep up with the high demands for insulin.  


The problem occurs when we eat not just sugar, but refined carbohydrates that can affect blood sugar levels. Grains, for example,  are in general a highly refined, high glycemic carbohydrate that contribute to highly fluctuating blood sugar levels. The problem is that our Standard American Diet is filled with refined carbohydrates at every meal and snack.  We eat bread, pastas, crackers, pretzels, bagels, cereal, pizza crust, tortillas, wraps, rice and rice products, just to name a few.  Refined carbohydrates are digested quicker than whole grain, unrefined type carbohydrates and this contributes to spikes in blood sugar after eating. Further complicating the issue is the topic of whole grains, as many products labeled as whole grain are not what you would believe them to be.  (We will be writing more on this topic in the future!)  We are inundating our bodies with huge amounts of refined carbohydrates and sugars in our everyday foods, and even hidden sources of refined carbs and sugars in supposedly healthier marketed foods.   Is this because we have no self control or are overeating?  Unfortunately, many overweight Americans are told they need to restrict their calories in order to lose weight, and they must exercise willpower and ignore their hunger signals.  Many who struggle with weight issues know it is not from a lack of willpower. 


The general recommendations given to patients with Type 2 Diabetes is to consume 40-65grams of carbs per meal plus more at snacks.  Dr. Hallberg believes that "diabetes is a state of carbohydrate toxicity."  Is carb counting an effective way to manage blood sugar levels?  Are all carbs created equal?    Dr. Hallberg successfully treats her patients with a "low carb" diet.


According to Dr. Hallberg, The American Diabetic Assocation guidelines state "Our carbohydrate intake is the single, biggest factor in blood sugar levels, and therefore need for medication." The American Diabetic Association guidelines state "The amount of carbohydrates and available insulin may be the most important factor influencing glycemic response after eating" and they also say, " Whereas data on the ideal total dietary fat content for people with diabetes are inconclusive, an eating plan emphasizing elements of a Mediterranean-style diet rich in monounsaturated fats may improve glucose metabolism and lower CVD risk and can be an effective alternative to a diet low in total fat but relatively high in carbohydrates."  So by increasing specific types of fats, and decreasing specific types of carbohydrates, glucose levels can be managed, and blood sugar levels will be more evenly balanced throughout the day.


The HHS and USDA's recent reports show that Americans' "average intakes of foods from the food groups are far from amounts recommended" in the new guidelines for Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern.  Americans are eating more grains than recommended, and less fruits, vegetables, legumes, and even dairy. 


If you want to learn how to reduce grains and sugar in your diet that are contributing to not just diabetes, but obesity, cardiovascular disease, and many other diseases, joining one of our RESTART® groups is a great place to start, and well worth the investment in your health!  Click HERE for more information.


A transcript of Dr. Hallberg's TED talk can be found HERE