Fact: Type 2 diabetes is fully reversible and preventable.
This is excellent news for anyone who has been diagnosed with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. Most healthcare professional consider type 2 diabetes to be a chronic and progressive disease that continuously gets worse until eventually you require insulin injections. But this is actually a great big lie. Recognizing the fallacy of this belief is the crucial first step in reversing the disease. It’s ridiculously easy to prove that type 2 diabetes is almost always reversible.
Only diet and lifestyle changes –not medications– will reverse this disease simply because type 2 diabetes is largely a dietary disease. The most important determinant of course is weight loss. Most medications used to treat type 2 diabetes do not cause weight loss. Quite the contrary, insulin for instance is notorious for causing weight gain. The key to treating diabetes properly is weight loss, logically insulin, because it causes weight gain, does not improve the condition. It actually makes the disease worse. Since weight loss is the key to reversing type 2 diabetes, medications do not help. We only pretend they do. That’s why many doctors think type 2 diabetes is a chronic and progressive disease. Drugs cannot cure a dietary disease.
The problem is not the disease itself, but the way to treat the disease. The same principle to reversing type 2 diabetes also applies to preventing it. Obesity and type 2 diabetes are closely related and generally increases in weight also increases the risk of the disease. The correlation is not perfect, but nevertheless maintaining an ideal weight is the first step for prevention. Many people paint type 2 diabetes as an inevitable part of modern life. But this is simply not true. The epidemic of type 2 diabetes only started in the late 1980s.
Fact, type 2 diabetes is caused by too much sugar.
At its very core, type 2 diabetes can be understood as a disease caused by too much insulin, which our body secretes when we eat too much sugar. Framing the problem this way is incredibly powerful because the solution becomes immediately obvious. We must reduce our insulin levels by limiting our dietary intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates, a form of sugar. When you eat sugar, your body secretes the hormone insulin to move the sugar into your cells where it is used for energy. If you do not burn that sugar sufficiently, then over decades your cells become completely filled and cannot handle any more sugar. The next time you eat sugar, insulin cannot force any of it into your overloaded cells and consequently spills out into the blood. Sugar travels in the blood in the form called glucose and having too much of it is known as high blood glucose which is a primary symptom of type 2 diabetes. When there is too much glucose in the blood, insulin does not appear to do its usual job of moving glucose into the cells. We then say that the body has become insulin resistant. But it is not truly the insulin’s fault. The primary problem is that the cells are overflowing with glucose. The high blood glucose is only part of the issue because not only is there too much glucose in the blood, but there is also too much glucose in all of the cells. Type 2 diabetes is an overload phenomenon where there is too much glucose in the entire body. In response to excess glucose in the blood, the body secretes even more insulin to overcome this resistance. This forces more glucose to the overloaded cells to keep blood levels normal. This works, but the effect is only temporary because it has not resolved the problem of excess sugar. It has only moved the excess from the blood to the cells, making insulin resistance worse. At some point even with more insulin, the body cannot force any more glucose into the cells.
What happens to the body if we do not remove the excess glucose?
First the body keeps increasing the amount of insulin it produces to try to force more glucose into the cells, but this only creates more insulin resistance in what then becomes a vicious cycle. When the insulin levels can no longer keep pace with the rising resistance, blood glucose spikes. That’s when your doctor is likely to diagnose type 2 diabetes. Your doctor may prescribe a medication, such as insulin injections or perhaps a drug called metformin to but these drugs do not rid the body off excess glucose, instead they just continue to take the glucose out of the blood and ram it back to the body. Then it gets shipped out to the organs, such as the nerves, the kidneys, the eyes and the heart where it can eventually create other problems. Insulin or metformin has simply moved the glucose from the blood where you can see it into the body where you cannot. So, the very next time you eat, sugar spills out into the blood again and you inject insulin to shove it into your body. The more glucose you force your body to accept, the more insulin you need to overcome the resistance to it. But this insulin creates more resistance as the cells become more and more engorged. Once the need exceeds what your body can produce naturally, medications can assist. At first, you need only 1 medication. Eventually, it becomes 2 and then 3 medications and the dose becomes larger. As you take more and more medications to keep the blood glucose at the same level, the diabetes is actually getting worse. The blood glucose got better with insulin or medications, but the diabetes got worse. The medication only hid the blood glucose by cramming it into the already engorged cells. The diabetes looks better, but actually it is worse.
Type 2 diabetes affects every organ in the body.
At this point, doctors may congratulate themselves on the illusion of a job well done even as the patients get sicker. No amount of medication prevents the heart attacks, congestive heart failure, strokes, kidney failure, amputations or blindness that result when diabetes is getting worse. “Oh well,” the doctor says, “it is a chronic progressive disease.” The solution to too much glucose which leads to too much insulin should be evident: Get rid of it. But the standard treatment for type 2 follows the same flawed logic of hiding the glucose instead of eliminating it. If we understand that too much glucose in the blood is toxic, why do we not understand that too much glucose in the body is also toxic? What happens when excess glucose piles up in the body over a period of 10 or 20 years? Every cell in the body starts to rot, which is precisely why type 2 diabetes unlike virtually any other disease affects every single organ. Your eyes rot and you go blind, your kidneys rot and you need dialysis, your heart rots and you get a heart attack or heart failure, your brains rot and you get Alzheimer’s disease, your liver rots and you get fatty liver disease and cirrhosis, your legs rot and you get diabetic foot ulcers, your nerves rot and you get diabetic neuropathy. No part of the body is spared. Standard medications do not prevent the progression of organ failure because they do not help excrete the toxic sugar level.
Glucose lowering medications do not make people healthier.
We have overlooked the singular truth. We cannot use drugs to cure a dietary disease. It is a fact that type 2 diabetes is preventable and reversible without medication. Once we understand that type 2 diabetes is simply too much sugar in the body, the solution becomes obvious: Get rid of the sugar. Do not hide it away, get rid of it. There are really only 2 ways to accomplish this:
- Put less sugar in
- Burn off remaining sugar
That’s it. That’s all we need to do. The best part is that it’s all natural and completely free. No drugs. No surgery. No costs.
Step 1: Put Less Sugar In.
The first step is to eliminate all sugars and refined carbohydrates from your diet. Added sugars have no nutritional values and you can safely withhold them. Complex carbohydrates, which are long chains of sugars and highly refined carbohydrates, such as flour are quickly digested into glucose. The optimum strategy is to limit or eliminate breads and pastas made from white flour as well as white rice and potatoes.
You should maintain a moderate, not a high intake of protein. When it is digested, dietary protein, such as meat breaks down into amino acids. Adequate protein is required for good health, but excess amino acids cannot be stored in the body where the liver converts them into glucose. Therefore, eating too much protein adds sugar to the body. So, you should avoid highly process concentrated protein sources such as protein shakes, protein bars and protein powders.
What about dietary fat? Natural fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts and olive oils, major components of the Mediterranean diet have a minimal effect on blood glucose or insulin and are well known to have healthy effects on both heart disease and diabetes. Eggs and butter are also excellent sources of natural fat. Dietary cholesterol, which is often associated with these foods has been shown to have no harmful effects on the human body. Eating dietary fats does not lead to type 2 diabetes or heart disease. In fact, it is beneficial because it helps you feel full without adding sugar to the body. To put less sugar into your body, stick to whole, natural, unprocessed foods and eat a diet low in refined carbohydrates, moderate in protein and high in natural fats.
Step 2: Burn Off Remaining Sugar
Exercise, both resistance and aerobic training have a beneficial effect on type 2 diabetes. But it is far less powerful at reversing the disease than dietary interventions. And fasting is the simplest and surest method to force the body to burn sugar. Fasting is merely the flip side of eating. If you’re not eating, you’re fasting. When you eat, your body stores food energy. When you fast, your body burns food energy. And glucose is the most accessible food energy. Therefore, if you lengthen your periods of fasting, you can burn off the excess stored sugar. While it may sound severe, fasting is literally the oldest dietary therapy known and has been practiced throughout human history without problems. If you take prescription medications, you should seek the advice of a physician. But the bottom line is this: If you do not eat, your blood glucose come down. If you do not eat, you will lose weight. Of course. So, what’s the problem? None that I can see. To burn off sugar, the popular strategy is to fast for 24 hours 2 to 3 times per week. Another popular approach is to fast for 16 hours, 5 to 6 times per week. I prefer the latter, fasting for 16 hours between the hours of 8 pm and 12 noon and eating between the hours of 12 noon and 8 pm. The secret to reversing type 2 diabetes now lies within our grasp. All it requires is having an open mind to accept a new paradigm and the courage to challenge conventional wisdom. You now know the basics and should be ready to start. Good luck!
Board Certified Consultant Pharmacist
Adapted from The Diabetes Code, Jason Fung, MD.