Can Losing Weight Really Reverse
Diabetes? --- Let's Look at the
Evidence


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December 17, 2015

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist





First, here are the grim facts. Diabetes affects 29.1 million
Americans --- 9.3% of the population, according to the
American Diabetes Association.  In the UK, there were 2.4
million cases of diabetes in 2014, according to the International
Diabetes Federation.  In Australia, 16% of people over the age
of 65 have diabetes, according to the Australia Institute of
Health and Welfare.  Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of
death in the US in 2010 and this figure is surely low, as deaths
due to diabetes are under-reported.

Diabetes costs us over $245 billion per year in the US alone to
treat. So news that lifestyle changes can actually turn back the
clock on Type 2 diabetes is welcome news to everyone.
Imagine a world where exercising and losing weight actually
reverses the diabetes condition. Is it too good to be true? Does
losing weight actually help you get rid of diabetes?

Diabetes Reversal -- What Is This Purported Miracle?

Diabetes reversal means interventions that help you better
control your blood sugar so you can reduce your dependency
on diabetes medication.

If your diabetes is reversed you can cut the amount of
medication you take, or stop taking it entirely, as you continue
to maintain healthy lifestyle choices that prevent a “relapse”.

Recent scientific research shows that shedding pounds and
staying at a healthier weight actually helps this reversal
process.

Reversing Diabetes: How to Break the Cycle
























The most common reason for Type 2 diabetes is
obesity.
Yes, all of us know someone who is rail thin and who got
diabetes but these are, by staggering odds, simply exceptions
to the rule. Obesity accounts for between 80% and 85% of the
risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, according to Diabetes, UK,
the UK's leading diabetes charity.

The cycle of diabetes begins with a diet high in carbs and fats,
and low in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Your body raises levels
of insulin in the blood to cope with the excessive carb intake.

You put on weight and this, combined with consistently high
insulin levels, leads to your cells becoming insulin-resistant.

Insulin resistance raises your sugar levels, which causes you to
feel tired and lethargic so you begin to do less exercise. High
insulin levels also make you feel hungry, so you eat more.

And hence the vicious feedback cycle accelerates. The more
weight you gain, the more insulin-resistant you become. And as
the pancreatic cells are damaged through the struggle to
produce enough insulin, you stop producing it, which leads to
the symptoms of diabetes. Losing weight takes the insulin-
raising pressure away.

Scientific Proof that Losing Weight Helps Reverse Diabetes

Scientists at the Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Centre at
Newcastle University in the UK realized something startling ---
diabetics who underwent weight-loss surgery actually
experienced a reversal of diabetes.

This discovery sparked a look at the impact of a short-term,
calorie restricted diet on Type 2 diabetes.

In a 2011 study, scientists from Newcastle University looked at
11 people with newly-diagnosed Type 2 diabetes (diagnosed
for less than four years) and prescribed a liquid diet.

The liquid diet contained 600 calories a day and was controlled
to give the correct nutrients but, here's the key, no carbs.

Participants ate 200 calories of non-starchy vegetables like
spinach and broccoli for the fiber.

After just one week on the diet, MRI scans showed that the fat
in the liver of participants had fallen by an astounding 30
percent. Moreover, blood sugar levels fell to normal.

After eight weeks, something even more important happened.
The pancreas got leaner.  Fat levels in the pancreas had fallen
and the cells of the pancreas began behaving like a pancreas of
a non-diabetic person --- it started  once again producing
insulin.

The key appears to be a loss of about 1 gram of fat in the
pancreas. But to lose this tiny 1 gram of pancreatic fat requires
a loss of many kilograms of total body fat.

People on the diet lost around 15kg on average and after three
months on a normal diet they had mostly normal blood sugar
levels. All the participants were able to stop taking their
diabetes medication.


The Newcastle University scientists claim that fat in the
pancreas and liver prevents them working properly and causes
diabetes. With the removal of this fat, the organs go back to
their previous, completely normal functioning.

Losing Weight over a Longer Time Period Also Reverses
Diabetes


The previous study involved a high-impact, highly restricted
diet over a short period of time. Many people will find this
impossible to comply with.

But a 2012 study from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention shows that limiting calories to between 1,200 and
1,800 a day for a year and combing this with weekly counseling
and education in
lifestyle changes can also bring about diabetes
reversal.

Within a year of the study, 10 percent of the participants
stopped taking their diabetes medication and results were best
for those that lost the most weight.

Could It Work For Me?

In the studies above the key factor was substantial weight loss.
But it also matters, according to scientists, at what point your
liver and pancreas start to suffer under the weight of fat.

Scientists at Newcastle University say that every person has a
different tolerance so that one person can tolerate a
BMI of 40
or more before diabetes occurs, while another may develop
diabetes at a BMI of just 19 depending on how their bodies are
set to function normally.

It is also important to remember that this dietary intervention
will only work for Type 2 diabetes. It will not work for Type 1
diabetes or diabetes that is caused by genetic factors.

Losing weight dramatically enough to reverse diabetes can be
extremely hard, however. Some people decide that weight loss
surgery is the answer – but does this have the same diabetes-
reversal effect?

Reversal of Diabetes After Surgical Weight Loss

Yes – in fact, it was results from studies into diabetes after
weight loss surgery that caused many scientists to try creating
the same process through diet. A 2009 study from Cincinnati
Children's Hospital Medical Center demonstrated that surgical
weight loss in extremely obese adolescents did in fact reverse
Type 2 diabetes.

Further, a 2015 study, again from Newcastle University,
showed that the degree of weight loss determined the
successful reversal of diabetes after surgery – more weight
loss, better results.

Doesn’t Help? Don’t Blame Yourself

Scientists say that for people with longer-term diabetes, a
bigger weight loss is needed to reverse the condition – which
may not be achievable through diet or even weight loss
surgery.

However even if you do not completely
reverse diabetes, your
body will respond on a
healthy, lower calorie diet and your
blood glucose levels will drop.

Your weight and your lifestyle are important regardless of  
whether you reverse your diabetes completely.  At a lower
weight, you are more likely to exercise more, be more active,
and suffer less from the complications of diabetes.


































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Eating high fiber vegetables  can help
you lower your risk for diabetes
.