Brought to you jointly by The Foundation for Prevention and Dr. Irving A. Cohen
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Is your Type 2 Diabetes Reversible?
Diabetes was partially understood during ancient times, when physicians waited to see if flies were attracted to the patient's urine or tasted it to determine if sugar was present. Those crude methods detected only more advanced cases of diabetes. By the late 1800's, laboratory tests could detect sugar in urine or measure the amount of sugar in blood. Today, this is lab testing is done as part of an routine examination, Unfortunately, like the ancient tests, it only finds the extremes of Type 2 Diabetes.
Children in elementary school are taught that the disease of diabetes is one of high blood sugar because of a lack of insulin. That simple idea describes Type 1 Diabetes, but does a serious disservice to people suffering from Type 2 Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is actually a very different disease, and only accounts for about 5% of diabetics in the United States today. Type 1 Diabetes is caused by an injury to the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. A person with Type I Diabetes must have insulin because the cannot produce it themselves. Type 2 Diabetes is very different.
Type 2 diabetes, in its early stages, is just the opposite. It is a progressive disease, and often goes unrecognized for years in its early stages. Blood sugar may seem to be to be normal for many years, but the natural insulin level, if it is ever checked, is high. Why is this? Type 2 Diabetes begins with diet. Each time your level of blood sugar rises, your body produces more insulin to deal with it. When this is happening too much, your insulin level can be higher than it should be. Your body then responds by becoming insulin resistant. Your cells become numb to these greater insulin levels, which means that even more insulin is needed to bring the sugar level down. For many years, your body may be capable of doing this, but eventually your blood sugar stays high. Unfortunately, that is often the first time doctors begin to recognize your diabetes.
In those earlier years, this high level of insulin and the resulting insulin resistance are associated with inflammation in the small blood vessels of the organs of your body. The damage begins long before your blood sugar appears to be out of control. The rise in heart disease in the early the 20th century is one example. This phenomena is responsible for people developing kidney disease and peripheral neuropathy long before they have been deemed to be diabetic. Today, government and scientific authorities are just beginning to wake up to this. Yet, historic figures observed this and commented about this. Benjamin Franklin is famous for stating I saw few die of hunger - of eating, a hundred thousand. Similarly, Hippocrates noted sudden death is more common in those who are obese. This long understood association is not the result of a person's weight, but on the very eating habits that brought on this overweight. The tragedy is that some people who are told they are perfectly healthy suddenly develop disease, sometimes dying without ever having been diagnosed as being diabetic. The lesson should be that diabetes is under-diagnosed, or diagnosed far too late.
We live in a society where Diabetes remains undiagnosed until it reaches the point where doctors feel they must prescribe medication to bring the blood sugar down. Elevated blood sugar should not be looked at as the sole criteria for this disease. Instead, look at the earlier factors that cause it. Dietary change can reverse type II diabetes. The only exception will be when the pancreas has been literally burned out by overuse, having produced its maximum capacity of insulin. Even then, if modest amounts of insulin are still being produced, these may be enough with sufficient dietary change. Insulin resistance can be reversed. Much of the damage caused by this can be reversed. Fewer people actually die from high blood sugar today. Instead, they may develop heart disease, cancer, kidney failure or dementia as a result of their diabetes. Sometimes, the connection is to diabetes is made but often it is attributed to something else. Thanks to the influence of pharmaceutical companies, healers interested only in stabilizing blood sugar, and ignore the underlying cause.
If you are prediabetic or a hidden diabetic, an objective picture can be obtained by your doctor, using the groups of tests discussed on that page. This is the perfect time to intervene with dietary change, before further damage is done. On the other hand, if you have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, and currently take medication, you should work closely with your physician, reducing or eliminating diabetic medications as you go through significant dietary change. In this case, frequent home monitoring and reporting regularly to your physician is extremely important, but the reward of getting under good control without your current medication can be well worth it.
Finally, if you are now using insulin injections, are you simply at the level of insulin resistance, or do you have of pancreatic insufficiency? You may still respond well to dietary change, but appropriate medical supervision, coupled with the good judgment and knowledge of your physician is critical. You may be able to stop all of your diabetic medications, or reduce your need to only a small dose of a single medication, but getting there will require the closest cooperation between you and your physician. Even if you have reached the point where your pancreas can no longer produce enough natural insulin to meet the needs of your body, dietary change may help your diabetes, but along with continued need for medication and medical supervision. Do not despair. Some physicians may have rapidly progressed their patients to using insulin, even those who were capable of producing enough insulin to meet their own needs. You will need to work closely with a physician to determine if your body is still capable of producing its own insulin in sufficient amounts. The encouraging news is that majority of Type 2 Diabetics can still produce their own insulin.
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** Diabetes is a serious disease. This website can not and is not intended to provide individual medical advice. If you are currently using any form of diabetic medication, significant dietary change may necessitate modification or discontinuation of your medication schedule. Consult a qualified medical practitioner for individual direction and medical advice. **