How 7 People Actually Reversed Their Diabetes
Diabetes is a leading cause of death and it doesn’t have a cure. However, these people managed to reverse their condition through a new method—here’s how they did it.
The Diabetes Code
One and a half million Americans will receive a diabetes diagnosis every year, according to the American Diabetes Association, and millions more are hovering right on the edge with prediabetes. It’s a growing problem, and unfortunately, one without a cure. People have been known to reverse adult-onset diabetes through lifestyle changes, however. One doctor, Jason Fung, MD, has helped countless diabetics do just that, with a very unconventional method: fasting. He’s written an entire book on the topic: The Diabetes Code. Here are a few of his success stories. Read more about Dr. Fung, and how he’s beating type 2 diabetes one patient at a time.
“I am truly healed”
Courtesy Jill McMahon
Years of yo-yo dieting and poor eating habits led Jill McMahon, 36, to pack on extra pounds until, at age 30, she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. “I was so ashamed that I didn’t tell my family and was in denial myself,” she says.
When she got pregnant with her son, she had to start taking insulin, and when he turned six months old, she reached her all-time highest weight of 310 pounds. The social worker from Trenton, New Jersey who committed her career to helping others was struggling to help herself.
Then she stumbled across one of Dr. Fung’s YouTube videos while researching ketogenic diets. “I incorporate fasting into my routine almost every week,” McMahon says. “Often that just means skipping breakfast, but sometime I will fast up to 72 hours.” She shed more than 100 pounds and her blood sugar is back to normal levels. She credits Dr. Fung for it all, saying, “I believe fasting was the final key to heal my metabolic illness of diabetes.” Check out 7 proven benefits of intermittent fasting.
“Diabetes was winning the war”
Courtesy James Shadoin, Courtesy Irene Meija
As a food service professional in the health care industry, Dan Shadoin, 57, saw firsthand the results of unchecked, untreated diabetes in others. But he was still shocked when his own doctor wanted to put him on insulin, even though he was already on three other diabetes medications and weighed 380 pounds.
After that appointment in August 2018, he says, “I left the doctor’s office in a frustrated state. I was not going to become an insulin-dependent diabetic.” The Wichita, Kansas resident started looking into the keto diet, initially to “expose it as bunk,” he says. But he cut all processed foods from his diet and limited his carbohydrate intake. Then he added intermittent and extended fasting, for anywhere from 16 hours to five days at a time.
“By mid-October, I began taking days off from my daily medications,” he says. “By November I had stopped taking everything and both my blood glucose and blood pressures stayed low, lower than they had ever been.” Before the year’s end, Shadoin had lost 68 pounds and he kept his resolution to avoid insulin.
“Google Dr. Fung”
Courtesy Shawn Dobbins
Despite being very active, exercising, and counting calories, Anne Dobbins, 41, was never able to shake the weight she gained during her two pregnancies. “I am 5’9″ and at my heaviest (that I know of) I weighed 228 pounds,” she says. When the results of what was supposed to be routine bloodwork revealed that she had full-blown type 2 diabetes, she asked her doctor to delay medication until she had three months to improve through lifestyle changes.
Her Internet research led her to Dr. Fung: “The information I discovered has been truly life-changing,” she says. “I started intermittent fasting with a low-carb eating plan. I fast every day between 12 and 16 hours (including overnight) and then once or twice a week for 20 to 32 hours. Within just a couple weeks, my blood sugar was starting to drop into pre-diabetic and even normal range.”
In a little over two months—one shy of what she’d thought she’d need—her fasting blood glucose was normal and her doctor acknowledged that her diabetes was in remission. “He said if I kept it up I wouldn’t need any medication for another 20 years!” she says. Dobbins even exceeded her original weight loss goal, so she set a new one that puts her in the healthy range for body mass index (BMI). “I go for new bloodwork in July 2019,” she says, “and I’m actually very excited to see the numbers.”
“I am down over 100 pounds from my highest weight”
Courtesy Rachel Awad
Rachel Awad, 55, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native, never had luck with commercial weight-loss programs. The 5’3″ consultant had been overweight most of her life, but in 2008, she hit a peak of 285 pounds and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and hypertension.
Restricting calories helped her shed some pounds, but she gained it all back. “When I was close to my starting weight again, I learned about intermittent fasting,” she says. In 2017, she began practicing it daily after reading Dr. Fung’s book, The Obesity Code. She follows a daily fasting window of one meal a day—a schedule of three to four hours during which she can eat, and 20 to 21 hours of fasting. She also switches over to an alternate day fasting from time to time—40 hours of fasting, and an eight-hour window in which she can eat. Learn what intermittent fasting was like for this woman.
Awad has lost more than 100 pounds, dropped her fasting blood sugar by 75 points, and most importantly, reversed her type 2 diabetes.
“It was the most important crossroads of my life”
Courtesy Bob Storey
Jodi Storey, 51, handled work stress by “eating the wrong things all day long,” she says. In February 2018, she went to the doctor and received bad news: She had type 2 diabetes, unhealthy cholesterol numbers, and an ultrasound showed signs of fatty liver disease.
“I was devastated by the diagnosis and cried for two hours when I got home,” she recalls. With a background in medical and dental work, she knew what her future would be if she did not take action. “I could either take control of this disease or give up,” she says.
Storey chose to fight: She quit her stressful job and cut all sugar out of her diet. She worked with diet specialists to limit her calories to 1200 a day, but when she asked what would happen after her weight loss plateaued, she didn’t get an answer. When she started researching for herself, she came across The Diabetes Code by Dr. Fung. “I read the book in two days,” she says. “For the first time, I had hope. I did not have to live with this forever.”
She embarked on a ketogenic lifestyle with intermittent fasting, starting with 36-hour fasts and working up to five-day fasts. “The weight started to melt off,” she says. Now that she’s 42 pounds lighter, she no longer has cholesterol problems, fatty liver, or diabetes. “I have never felt better,” she says. And she is excited to continue her journey in her new career as a ketogenic lifestyle coach, helping inspire others. Read about the 12 ways your body changes when you’re on the ketogenic diet.
“I feel free!”
Courtesy Scott Gronholz
Mary Gronholz, 56, didn’t expect her annual gynecologist appointment to change her life, but she’s grateful it did. In November 2017, the sales director with Mary Kay Cosmetics in Lake Mills, Wisconsin, weighed 250 pounds and had high blood pressure, but her doctor suspected that wasn’t all. “My doctor thought I would be pre-diabetic if not already diabetic”—which she almost certainly was—Gronholz recalls. “She said to me, ‘Mary, you’ll see a lot of obese 60-year-olds but not many obese 80-year-olds because they’re dead.’”
On her doctor’s recommendation, Gronholz read Dr. Fung’s book and began following his rules for a low-carb diet with healthy fat, moderate protein and mostly unprocessed foods—and no snacking allowed. She followed a time-restricted eating schedule but would switch to one meal a day for a few days when her weight loss stalled and she needed to reinvigorate it. “My longest fast to date has been 42 hours,” she says.
She’s lost 75 pounds, but says the non-scale victories, like no more inflammation and joint pain—and being able to walk down an airplane aisle without having to turn sideways—are even better.
“I am as healthy as I’ve ever been in my life”
Courtesy Laura Spath
On Christmas day 2016, Chris Spath, 44, was admitted to the hospital with what turned out to be necrotizing faciitis—flesh-eating bacteria—in his left arm. Spath, who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes five years prior, weighed 300 pounds and admits he wasn’t taking care of his health the way he should have been. The Gilbert, Arizona resident spent seven weeks in the hospital having numerous surgeries, and the next year of his life recovering. “I knew that type 2 diabetes and my poor metabolic health were major contributors to my situation,” he says.
In April 2018, when a doctor suggested putting Spath on insulin, he decided to finally do something about it. “I researched and found Dr. Fung,” he says. “Along with implementing a carnivore (all meat) diet, I started following Dr. Fung’s fasting protocol, while learning as much as I could about obesity, diabetes, and nutrition.” He started with a four-hour feeding window, then quickly went to one meal a day, and added one 48 -to 72-hour fast per week. “Once a month, I did a 96-hour fast,” he says.
Today, Spath, a stay-at-home dad, rarely fasts for such long periods—nor does he need to. He has lost more than 100 pounds and no longer has any signs of diabetes. Check out even more science-backed strategies to reverse diabetes.