For example, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association randomly assigned more than 5,000 adults with Type 2 diabetes to either an intensive, lifestyle-based weight-loss program or a diabetes support and education program. After one year, 11.5 percent of the participants in the lifestyle change group experienced diabetes remission. Four years later, 7.3 percent of the participants who reduced their calorie intake, exercised more, and attended weekly counseling still experienced remission.
Diabetes remission is said to occur when a person has normal blood sugar levels despite not taking diabetes medication.
If you're wondering how to increase your chances of remission, here are six lifestyle changes you can make.
Start right away: Start adopting a healthier lifestyle as soon as possible because time is of the essence when it comes to reversing diabetes. Some experts say that if you can normalize your blood sugar levels without using medication within the first five years of your diagnosis, you can increase your chances of remission.
Shed off those extra pounds: Weight plays a role in Type 2 diabetes prevention and development. Having excess fat can negatively affect insulin production and usage, so losing weight is important in reversing diabetes. One study suggests that a person with Type 2 diabetes needs to lose 33 pounds (15 kilograms) on average to achieve remission. There is also some evidence that losing even just 5 percent of your body weight can improve blood sugar levels. Exercising and eating healthier foods can help people you lose weight. (Related: New trial suggests that weight loss can reverse Type 2 diabetes.)
Build muscles: Strength training is especially effective for managing or reversing diabetes because it naturally restores your muscles' insulin sensitivity. When you build muscles, you burn more calories, which leads to better blood sugar control. Additionally, glucose can be stored in the muscles as glycogen so having more muscles to store glucose in helps with blood sugar balance. You can start building muscles by doing some bodyweight exercises that don't need equipment. Then, you can start to work your way up using bands, weight machines, and free weights like dumbbells, barbells, and kettle balls.
Follow a healthier diet: What you eat and how much you eat matter when it comes to reversing Type 2 diabetes. A diabetes-friendly diet should include fiber-rich foods, healthy fats, mineral-rich nuts and seeds, and antioxidant-rich produce. It should also include complex carbohydrates like whole grains and starchy vegetables, and clean proteins like organic poultry and grass-fed meat. Foods that cause blood sugar spikes and drops or promote inflammation should be avoided. Eating in smaller portions and spreading out carbohydrate intake throughout the day is also important.
Take supplements strategically: Combining supplements with a healthy diet and regular exercise can improve insulin, blood sugar, and inflammation. Vitamin D, magnesium, alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), fish oil, and adaptogens are some of the supplements you can take to improve your condition.
Reduce stress and sleep well: Research shows that managing stress and sleep also helps. Any activity that you enjoy doing will definitely be helpful.
Remission can take different forms. Partial remission occurs when a person manages to retain lower blood sugar levels than a person with diabetes for at least a year. This, of course, should happen without the use of diabetes medication. It can be considered complete remission if a person maintains their blood sugar level out of the diabetes or prediabetes range for at least one year without any medications. When this goes on for at least five years, it is called prolonged remission.