Being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes is a life-changing event, and one you may not entirely understand or know how to deal with. Once the initial shock wears off, you might start wondering what your options are, or wondering, "Can you reverse Type 2 Diabetes?".
Thankfully, in many cases, the answer is yes. Keep reading to learn more about Type 2 Diabetes and how functional medicine and a holistic diet can help your body return to a healthier state.
Type 2 Diabetes changes the way the body metabolizes sugar. In a healthy individual, the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin that regulates levels of sugars in the blood.
In individuals with Type 2 Diabetes, their bodies have lost sensitivity to this hormone, making them what's called insulin resistant. To counteract this, the body tries to make more and more of the hormone to do its job. Unfortunately, because of the resistance, the body can't make enough, slowly burning the pancreas out as it works overtime and resulting in high blood sugar levels that lead to other problems within the body.
If left untreated, Type 2 Diabetes can result in nerve, retinal, kidney, and vascular damage, among others.`
The conventional approach to Type 2 Diabetes is all about management of the disease once it's reached a certain point. Let's look at what you can expect from traditional treatment.
Insulin replacement is the most common conventional approach. The individual monitors their blood sugar level by putting a drop of blood on a meter. According to where their level falls, an according amount of insulin is then delivered via a self-administered shot to balance their levels out.
Drugs commonly used for Type 2 Diabetics include meglitinides, thiazolidinediones, and biguanides. These classes of medications have been connected to liver and kidney dysfunction, weight gain, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.
Conventional medicine promotes the American Diabetes Association's dietary guidelines, which include relatively high amounts of carbs and low amounts of dietary fats, including good ones.
Studies have shown that this diet may actually make the condition worse, but the guidelines have yet to be updated.
Functional medicine, on the other hand, uses lifestyle changes and dietary adjustments to bring the body back to a place of health. Instead of waiting until medication is absolutely necessary and then treating the symptoms, functional medicine aims to treat the underlying cause.
The first step in the functional medicine approach to Type 2 Diabetes is to figure out your individual settings - your usual blood sugar levels and how carbs affect them.
1. Test your blood sugar levels upon rising after fasting for 12 hours. This is your fasting blood sugar.
2. Test again before lunch.
3. Eat a normal lunch and test again one hour, two hours, and three hours after eating. Make sure you don't eat anything further in this window in order to give the best results.
4. Record the results, making sure to note what you ate.
5. Repeat this on the following day.
6. On the third day, repeat this test, but eat only 60 to 70 grams of fast-acting carbs with no protein or fat.
7. Record your results next to the previous two control days.
What you're looking to see is a fasting blood sugar in the 80s to 90s, and a blood glucose reading that doesn't rise higher than 140 an hour after a meal, drops to 120 within two hours and returns to baseline by three.
If it doesn't, you'll need to adjust your carb intake.
When managing your blood sugar, it's important to understand the difference between the ones that break down quickly into sugar and the ones that digest more slowly.
Carbs that are high in fiber and low in starch, such as vegetables, many fruits, and some grains, are the ones that are considered "diabetic friendly". These digest into sugars and enter the bloodstream slowly, allowing the body time to make enough insulin to clear them out.
Many doctors of functional medicine might even recommend removing carbs from your diet altogether, at least for a period of time. This allows the pancreas and body time to rest and rebalance.
In fact, scientific evidence is showing that reducing carbohydrates for Type 2 Diabetics results in improved triglycerides, cholesterol, and HbA1c numbers, and lower amounts of medication needed.
As carbs are reduced, the amount of healthy fats and protein consumed will go up to make up the calorie deficit. The focus is on non-saturated, plant-based fats paired with lean protein sources.
A holistic diet for reversing Type 2 Diabetes includes:
1. Fermented Foods. Foods that contain colonies of good bacteria, like Greek yogurt, kefir, kombucha and kimchi, improve glucose metabolism.
2. Superfoods. Superfoods like cacao have been shown to lower blood sugar after meals because it promotes vasodilation of the blood vessels.
3. Nuts and Seeds. Healthy fats, like those found in nuts and seeds, offer multiple benefits for diabetics - improving the functions of certain tissues and reducing blood sugar.
4. Resistant Starches. Starches that are almost all fiber can't be broken down the same way lower-fiber carbs are. High-fiber diets slow metabolism, giving the pancreas more time to do its job.
5. Spices. Certain spices, like cinnamon, garlic, and curcumin, have been shown to have positive effects on blood sugar and cholesterol.
If you've recently been diagnosed and are wondering, "Can you reverse Type 2 Diabetes?", maybe it's time for you to see a doctor specializing in functional medicine.
From depression and anxiety up to chronic autoimmune disorders, functional medicine can help you bring your body back to a place of balance and health. Contact Bliss Medicine today to see how we can help you with your medical issues in a more holistic way!