A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism is sweetening the pot when it comes to the potential of reversing type 2 diabetes and adds to the growing body of evidence that intensive lifestyle changes can go a long way in managing the disease.
Researchers found that when diabetes patients received a combination of oral medication, insulin, and a personalized exercise and diet plan for two to four months (and then stopped all diabetes medication), up to 40 percent were able to keep their blood glucose numbers at remission levels for three months without meds. (Find out the silent signs you might have diabetes.)
Syda-Productons/Shutterstock“The idea of reversing the disease is very appealing to individuals with diabetes. It motivates them to make significant lifestyle changes and to achieve normal glucose levels,” said study author Natalia McInnes, MD, MSc, FRCPC, of McMaster University in Canada in a news release. (Typical treatment for the roughly 29 million Americans with type 2 diabetes is regular blood glucose testing, insulin, and medication.)
For the study, 83 individuals with type 2 diabetes were split into three groups. Two received oral medication, insulin, and a personalized exercise and diet plan that cut their daily caloric intake by 500 to 750 a day (one group followed the intervention for eight weeks, the other was treated for 16 weeks); both groups stopped taking diabetes medications at the end of the intervention and were encouraged to continue the lifestyle changes on their own. A control group received standard blood sugar management advice.
Three months after the intervention was completed, 11 out of the 27 “intervention-ers” in the 16-week program met the criteria for complete or partial remission, compared just four out of the 28 control group participants. “The research might shift the paradigm of treating diabetes from simply controlling glucose to an approach where we induce remission and then monitor patients for signs of relapse,” said McInnes.