In the last few years, research has shown that some people can reverse their type 2 diabetes. We call this going into "remission" and means that you no longer need to take medication to control and keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range.
Scientists believe remission is achieved by reducing the levels of fat in the liver and pancreas. Although this theory still needs more research, the evidence so far is strong. The evidence suggests that remission can be achieved by losing a substantial amount of weight quite quickly. It also shows the sooner you lose weight after you’re diagnosed, the more likely you are to put your diabetes into remission.
It's important to remember that not everyone will be able to go into remission, and to speak to your doctor before you try to lose a lot of weight quickly.
Even if you don't manage to put your diabetes into remission, losing wight comes with a lot of health benefits. This can include making your diabetes much easier to manage and reducing your risk of future complications.
It's important to note that people with type 1 diabetes cannot put their diabetes into remission.
Losing weight with type 2 diabetes
Losing weight can seem like a pretty daunting task at times.
Many people with diabetes find a low-carbohydrate diet useful, although other diets like a Mediterranean diet can also be successful.
Blood sugar levels are always impacted by carb intake, so you will need to keep some sort of eye on how many grams of carbohydrates you eat, what type of carbohydrates they are, and how they affect your blood sugar. While you don’t have to cut out carbs although, it’s good to stop eating as many refined carbohydrates and sugars.
In the study about remission, people were put on very-low-calorie diets (under 800 calories a day). This is extremely difficult to maintain and should always be done under the supervision of a doctor. Talk to your GP or diabetes team if this is something you'd like to consider.
Weight loss surgery can also help but this is obviously a decision that needs to be thought about carefully and made with your doctors.
As well as changing your diet, some other things can help you lose weight too:
- Eat high protein foods
Making sure you get enough protein can help control blood sugar levels. It also helps you feel fuller for longer, and build muscle. Try to choose protein rich foods like beans and lentils, nuts, eggs or fish.
Although lean meats can keep you feeling fuller for longer, try to avoid eating a lot of red or processed meat like ham, bacon and sausages. These all have links with different heart conditions which you already have a higher risk of if you have type 2 diabetes.
- Choose healthy fats
Despite what you might have heard, fat is not bad for you. We all need fats to give us energy. Switching out your butter, ghee or cakes for healthier fats like those found like unsalted nuts, seeds, avocados, oily fish and olive oil can really help you control your blood sugar levels and lose weight.
- Getting regular exercise
Exercise can help people living with type 2 diabetes in a number of ways. It can help you lose fat, help increase insulin sensitivity and help improve Hb1Ac.