Expert Shares Tips for Reversing Your Diabetes
More and more Americans are developing type 2 diabetes—experts say it's reached the point of a national epidemic. That's seriously concerning, because the condition can damage blood vessels and vital organs, increasing the risk of catastrophic health conditions like blindness, heart disease, amputation and dementia. The good news: You can reverse type 2 diabetes—and even get yourself off diabetes medication—by making some targeted and consistent lifestyle changes, says Delane Vaughn, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician in Wichita, Kansas, and host of a podcast on reversing diabetes. On two recent episodes of her podcast, she revealed the most essential steps to take. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
The exact method of reversing type 2 diabetes is never as important as your commitment to doing it, says Vaughn. "Having that mindset on reversing your diabetes is what will get you there: I'm going to do whatever it takes, I'm going to invest in whatever I need to, to make this happen. That is the most important 'how to' that you need to have in your life to get that accomplished. If that's what you want in 2022, I highly recommend you spend some time making that commitment to yourself and remembering that commitment."
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Focus on Reducing Your Insulin, Not Your Sugar Intake
The basics of type 2 diabetes is "not that you eat too much sugar," says Vaughn. "The reason that you have type 2 diabetes is because you have so much insulin in your body, that your cells are no longer responding to insulin. They get overwhelmed by it, which means that they are not managing your blood sugar in your body appropriately."
"What we do to fix type 2 diabetes involves lowering that insulin level, not the blood sugar," says Vaughn. "We stop eating foods with high sugar and carbohydrates to lower the insulin."
The Foods to Avoid
"What counts as glucose is different from what many people think it might be," says Vaughn. It's not just sugar—many have glucose as their building blocks. Foods like flour, corn, oatmeal, and potatoes break down into glucose. "Even proteins can be converted in the liver to glucose," she says. "So it's not just the candy. It's the breads, the tortillas, the crackers, the cookies, the potato chips, the French fries. Even Bac-O bacon bits break down into glucose—they're actually flour and sugar and God only knows what else."
Eliminate Processed Foods
"The strategy of cleaning up your diet is really removing all processed foods," says Vaughn. "All food that is not natural to a human being really needs to be removed from your diet for at least 12 weeks in order for you to get your diabetes reversed."
"When we stop eating these highly processed foods, we stop taking in all of these carbohydrates and sugars, and that allows our insulin level to drop," says Vaughn. "Our pancreas doesn't see all the insulin or all the sugar in our system anymore. And when our pancreas isn't seeing the sugar, it's not kicking out that hormone insulin. That allows your insulin level to drop and your cells … to start hearing the message of insulin again, to start responding to blood sugar in your system appropriately."
If you're diabetic—and especially if you're on medication for your diabetes—it's important to stay in constant communication with your doctor when you change your diet, she adds.
Try Intermittent Fasting
To reverse diabetes, it's important to give your body a break from insulin production. That means intermittent fasting—limiting the hours in which you're eating. "Most Americans start eating the moment they wake up and stop eating when they fall asleep at night," says Vaughn. Constantly exposing your body to carbohydrates spurs the pancreas to constantly produce insulin. The result: Insulin resistance and diabetes. "Intermittent fasting allows your pancreas to stop putting out insulin, which allows your insulin levels to drop and your cells to resensitize, to start hearing the message of the insulin."
She reiterates: "If you start changing your diet, make sure you are working with a physician to keep yourself safe." And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.