Type 2 diabetes is a common condition that causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to become too high.
Oftentimes people who have the condition are overweight or inactive, or have a family history of type 2 diabetes.
While many people living with the condition never present symptoms, others experience excessive thirst, the need to urinate a lot, and feelings of tiredness.
Down the line type 2 diabetes may increase a person’s risk of developing serious problems with their eyes, feet, heart and nerves.
But is it possible to cure the long-term condition and successfully reverse type 2 diabetes? Some experts believe it’s doable. Diabetes UK says that losing weight could be “life-changing” for patients.
Experts believe Britons can reverse their type 2 diabetes by making a lifestyle change
Registered dietician Claire Lynch suggested that the answer for those with type 2 diabetes is to enjoy a predominantly plant-based diet. She told GB News: “Studies have shown a significant association between the consumption of animal products and the risk of type 2 diabetes.
”But a high carbohydrate, high fibre diet can reverse type 2 diabetes even in the absence of weight loss.
When you centre your diet around whole, plant foods, you reverse the root cause – insulin resistance.”
She said that insulin resistance is caused by fat building up in the liver and muscle cells.
Lynch said that the build-up happens because our Western-style diet is high in animal foods and highly processed foods that are high in fat, high in calories and low in fibre.
She explained: “This excess dietary fat and energy is stored as fat in your body and can enter your muscle and liver cells, causing insulin resistance.”
For lower blood glucose, the expert told type 2 diabetics to eat plenty of whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, in order to “tackle the cause of diabetes”.
Certified health coach Sujata Din has helped people reverse their type 2 diabetes and also advocates for a vegetable-heavy meal plan. Making some diet changes could massively improve a sufferer’s quality of life.
She told GB News: “The rise in prediabetes and diabetes diagnosis is concerning, not just for the immediate implications but due to the severe complications associated with these conditions, affecting everything from eyesight to kidney function and even foot health, significantly impacting daily quality of life.”
To manage blood sugar levels, Din advised: “Pile up your plate with a variety of colourful vegetables, such as tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, and broccoli, which are a good source of essential nutrients including fibre.”
She added: “Replace refined grains with fibre-rich wholegrains. Choose brown rice over white rice and whole wheat bread over white.
”Prioritise protein – it’s the key to every meal. Options include beans, lentils, tofu, chicken, or fish.”
While snacking is a very common practice among Britons, the expert recommended that type 2 diabetics “snack smart”. The health coach urged type 2 diabetics to reduce their intake of refined, sugary sweets and make clever swaps, for example substituting regular cookies for oat ones.
But while diet is essential, healthy eating goes hand in hand with exercise. Recommending that those with the condition keep active, she said: “Regular walking helps maintain stable blood sugar levels. If you don’t have much time, go for short, frequent walks.”
Din concluded: “Including these steps can help with improving blood sugar levels and overall health. Small, consistent changes will lead to long-term success.”
Wellness expert Christianne Wolff is no stranger to helping type 2 diabetics reverse their condition through The Body Rescue Plan.
She told GB News: “While not tailored specifically for diabetes, many participants find that within three months of following the plan, their condition reverses.”
The wellness guru offered her top tips for reversal, although she did add that some professionals argue that when blood sugars are reduced below the diabetes range, this is actually called remission.
Wolff said: ”One fundamental step is to eliminate processed sugars. On my plan, we don’t eliminate fruits due to their high fibre content, which slows down sugar absorption. Instead, we opt for nutritious, fibre-rich sweet treats to curb sugar cravings.
”Incorporate protein and healthy fats alongside carbohydrates to stabilize blood sugar levels.
”Stay hydrated by sipping at least two litres of water daily. Keep a water bottle handy throughout the day for easy access.”
Simple daily habits can also go a long way when it comes to reversing the condition. The wellness expert advised: ”Prioritise sleep and stress management, as fatigue and stress can exacerbate sugar cravings. Aim for eight hours of quality sleep and adopt stress-relieving practices like meditation or a warm bath.
”Taking a post-meal walk aids in blood sugar regulation. Weight loss can also contribute to diabetes reversal.
”Engage in regular exercise, such as the Soleus push-up, to manage blood sugar levels effectively. This exercise targets the soleus muscle, which utilises blood sugar for energy – rather than glycogen like the other muscles – aiding in blood sugar management.”
The way Wolff sees it, a person is no longer diabetic if their blood sugars are normal. However, there is a lot of discussion around whether type 2 diabetes can actually be reversed.
The experts at Diabetes UK say that a permanent reversal is not possible. Rather, a person who has type 2 diabetes can put their condition into “remission”.
The experts said: “We don’t call it diabetes reversal, because this might sound like it’s permanent, and there’s no guarantee that your diabetes has gone forever.
”But yes, it may be possible to put your type 2 diabetes into remission. This is when your blood sugar levels are below the diabetes range and you don’t need to take diabetes medication anymore. This could be life-changing.
”The strongest evidence we have at the moment suggests that type 2 diabetes is mainly put into remission by weight loss.”
‘When you centre your diet around whole, plant foods, you reverse the root cause – insulin resistance’
So how can those with type 2 diabetes go about healthily – and sustainably – go about losing weight? GB News asked registered nutritionist Jenna Hope.
The expert said that “the most effective and sustainable fat loss methods are those which are carried out over a longer period”. According to the nutrition guru, it’s all about small, gradual changes. She shared her top tips for healthily losing excess fat mass.
Hope advised slimmers to “aim for a source of protein with every meal and snack”, explaining that “protein plays a key role in promoting satiety, keeping you fuller for longer and balancing your blood sugar levels”.
Reach for fish, lean meats, beans, pulses, quinoa, nut butter and good quality dairy products, she instructed.
In agreement with the other experts, Hope suggested prioritising vegetables, advising people to consume ideally one or two portions with every meal or snack. She said: “Vegetables are low in calories and high in fibre meaning they’ll keep you fuller for longer and can help to promote a healthy gut. Where possible aim for at least one of the portions at each meal or snack to be non-starchy.”
Snacking is inevitable and many people do have a tendency to reach for sweet treats – and this is fine in moderation.
The nutritionist said: “It can be tempting to remove all chocolate, sweets and cakes from your diet when you’re looking to lose fat mass however, this approach can sometimes be restrictive and unsustainable. This in turn can leave you feeling deprived with an increased chance of you heading right back to your old ways. Instead, enjoy one portion of your favourite sweet snack a few times per week.”
In addition to healthy eating habits, type two diabetes should be mindful of what they’re drinking – and not just alcohol.
She warned people with the condition to “avoid syrups and sugars in your coffee”. She explained: “Sweet flavours can often leave you craving more sweet foods, even low-calorie syrups can drive up appetite in some cases. Additionally, consuming sugar in your coffee is a quick way to over consume your daily intake as two teaspoons equates to a third of the maximum recommended intake per day.”
In addition to unsweetened coffee, slimmers should be staying hydrated throughout the day to avoid “misinterpreting thirst for hunger”.
Finally, those looking to lose weight should maintain an active lifestyle, as ”movement can do wonders for increasing your metabolic rate and aiding fat loss”. And this does not have to mean working out in the gym all day, every day – “where possible try to get out for a walk every day even if it’s just 10-15 minutes”.
While reversal versus remission remains a debate, it is clear that losing excess weight can have a monumental effect on those living with type 2 diabetes.
The experts also advised sufferers to up their intake of fibrous veggies, limit processed foods and stock up on wholegrains for huge long-term health benefits.
By making small, doable changes – and sticking to them – Britons with type 2 diabetes can completely change their lives. For those who struggle daily with their diagnosis, a diet revamp could mean taking fewer medications, more stable blood sugar levels and a lower risk of dangerous complications.