This week I received the following question from ….

My 45 year-old husband was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes a few months ago.  Is it true that you can reverse diabetes?

I’m very glad for this question. Is it reversible? I just spent a few moments browsing articles on the internet as you may have already done, and you find TONS of conflicting answers. “Yes it is!”  “No it isn’t!”

There is a lot of misinformation out there. There’s an abundance of ads wanting to sell “miracle cures” or promise you reversal from diabetes entirely by following a strict diet. While it is very true that taking good care of yourself and managing your diabetes prevents a lot of complications, the key word here is manage and not “reverse.” If your diet deteriorates, or if you stop physical activity, symptoms of high blood sugar will reappear and may cause additional health complications. They can also still reappear if you are under a lot of physical stress from an injury or illness. Even with the best management, infection or stress can make your numbers rise.

Unfortunately there is no known cure for diabetes. Diabetes is diagnosed because there has been damage done to the pancreas, preventing it from secreting enough (if any) insulin to bring blood sugar levels down. It can be managed by lifestyle, but diabetes never really goes away.  The good news is that you can have diabetes and live a perfectly normal, fulfilling life, if you manage it well.  Following a healthy diabetic diet with the appropriate amount of carbohydrates, losing excess weight, and regular physical activity makes all the difference.

It has been reported that gastric bypass surgery causes diabetes symptoms to disappear. This surgery causes rapid weight loss for the reason little food is able to be consumed, alleviating symptoms of high glucose. Others may find that they no longer need medications they used to use just by keeping their blood glucose stable through lifestyle changes. So is diabetes reversible, or just treatable? Many professionals have different opinions. Although diabetes cannot disappear entirely, I like to think of it as a beast that luckily can be tamed!

There are some exceptions. Prediabetes, for example, can be potentially reversible if immediate lifestyle changes are made, such as improving diet and exercise. The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) performed a study finding that diet and exercise prevented the development of diabetes by a whopping 58%, much more so than prescribed medication. Gestational diabetes can also be prevented from developing into type 2 after the baby is born by the same measures.  These two conditions, however, both increase your risk for developing diabetes in the future, so the better you maintain your health the better your prognosis will be.