The Truth About Type 2 Diabetes: Can It Be Cured?
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Hyperglycaemia, or raised blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body’s systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels.
Statistics and Facts About Diabetes
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The number of people with diabetes rose from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.
The global prevalence of diabetes* among adults over 18 years of age rose from 4.7% in 1980 to 8.5% in 2014 (1).
Between 2000 and 2016, there was a 5% increase in premature mortality from diabetes.
Diabetes prevalence has been rising more rapidly in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries.
Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation.
In 2016, an estimated 1.6 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes. Another 2.2 million deaths were attributable to high blood glucose in 2012.
A healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco use are ways to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Types of Diabetes
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Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes (formerly called non-insulin-dependent, or adult-onset) results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin. The majority of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity
Type 1 diabetes
Type 1 diabetes (previously known as insulin-dependent, juvenile or childhood-onset) is characterized by deficient insulin production and requires daily administration of insulin. Neither the cause of Type 1 diabetes nor the means to prevent it are known.
Risk Factors Causing Type 2 Diabetes
Risk factors for type 2 diabetes, Credits: pixabay
45 years of age and older
Family history of type 2 diabetes
Hispanic, Native American, African American
High blood pressure
High cholesterol and lipids
Pre-diabetes: A condition in which blood sugars are higher than normal but still not high enough to be labelled diabetes
History of developing diabetes during pregnancy
What are the Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes?
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Numbness or pins and needles sensation in legs and feet
Slow wound healing
Can Type 2 Diabetes be Cured?
Diabetes, Credits: pixabay
No cure for diabetes currently exists, but the disease can go into remission.
However, patients with diabetes can lead a normal life with the help of drugs and adopting a healthy lifestyle. The goals of diabetes management are to eliminate symptoms and prevent the development of complications.
When diabetes goes into remission, it means that the body does not show any signs of diabetes, although the disease is technically still present.
Doctors have not come to a final consensus on what exactly constitutes remission, but they all include A1C levels below 6 percent as a significant factor. A1C levels indicate a person’s blood sugar levels over 3 months.
According to Diabetes Care, remission can take different forms:
Partial remission: When a person has maintained a blood glucose level lower than that of a person with diabetes for at least 1 year without needing to use any diabetes medication.
Complete remission: When the blood glucose level returns to normal levels completely outside of the range of diabetes or prediabetes and stays there for at least 1 year without any medications.
Prolonged remission: When complete remission lasts for at least 5 years.
A 2016 study found that certain interventions can help put type 2 diabetes into remission, including:
personalized exercise routines
Four months after the intervention, 40 percent of the subjects were able to stop taking their medications and remained in partial or complete remission.
Type 2 diabetes care can be optimally provided by a team of health professionals with expertise in diabetes. Management includes:
Appropriate goal setting
Maintaining blood glucose levels by eating a healthy diet and by optimizing body weight.
Dietary and exercise modifications
Appropriate self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) by the patient
Regular monitoring for complications
Change your diet
A Diet that Helps You Manage or Reverse Your Condition Should Include:
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Your doctor can help you plan a healthful and balanced diet, or they can refer you to a dietitian.
reduced calories, especially those from carbohydrates
a variety of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables
lean proteins, such as poultry, fish, low-fat dairy, soy, and beans
Foods and Beverages to Avoid
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There are certain foods and beverages that you should limit or avoid entirely. These include:
foods heavy in saturated or trans fats
organ meats, such as beef or liver
margarine and shortening
baked goods such as white bread
sugary drinks, including fruit juices
high-fat dairy products
Exercise and Loose Weight
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Starting an exercise routine is important for your overall health, but it’ll also help you lose weight and start to reverse your symptoms. Talk to your doctor before making a plan and keep the following in mind:
Start slowly. If you aren’t used to exercising, start small with a short walk. Gradually increase the duration and intensity.
Walk quickly. Fast walking is a great way to get exercise. A brisk walk is easy to do and requires no equipment.
Check your blood sugar before, during, and after your workout.
Keep a snack on hand in case your blood sugar drops while you’re exercising.
Medications for Type 2 Diabetes
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In some cases, lifestyle changes are enough to keep type 2 diabetes under control. If not, there are several medications that may help. Some of these medications are:
metformin, which can lower your blood glucose levels and improve how your body responds to insulin — it’s the preferred treatment for most people with type 2 diabetes
sulfonylureas, which are oral medications that help your body make more insulin
meglitinides, which are fast-acting, short-duration medications that stimulate your pancreas to release more insulin
thiazolidinediones, which make your body more sensitive to insulin
dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors, which are milder medications that help reduce blood glucose levels
glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists, which slow digestion and improve blood glucose levels
sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 (SGLT2) inhibitors, which help prevent the kidneys from reabsorbing glucose into the blood and sending it out in your urine
Each of these medications can cause side effects. It may take some time to find the best medication or combination of medications to treat your diabetes.
If your body can’t make enough insulin, you may need insulin therapy. You may only need a long-acting injection you can take at night, or you may need to take insulin several times per day. Learn about other medications that can help you manage diabetes.
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If dietary changes and exercise are not possible or successful, a person can achieve weight loss through bariatric surgery.
However, this is the last line treatment for people with morbid obesity for whom no other treatment options have been successful.
This type of surgery involves reducing the size of the stomach, which helps people feel full after eating. Some types of surgery also change a person’s anatomy and may alter hormones that contribute to weight gain.