Sanjiva Wijesinha -writer and physician

Short stories, Travel and Health Information

Can Diabetes be Reversed?

For centuries, Diabetes was considered an incurable disease, the result of the affected person’s body not having enough of the vital hormone Insulin that is required to utilise the sugars and sugar-containing foods that we eat. Insulin is produced by an organ situated at the back of the abdomen called the Pancreas – and when the pancreas for whatever reason stopped producing enough insulin, it was reasoned that the body could not process ingested food. Gradually the body started breaking down its own muscles to keep itself alive.

Until Canadian scientists Frederick Banting and Charles Best in 1921 discovered how to prepare insulin so that the drug could be injected into diabetic patients, the average life span of someone who developed Diabetes was only about four years.

All that changed with the discovery of artificial insulin. This life-saving drug and the anti- diabetic medications discovered subsequently can now help diabetic patients to metabolise the food they eat for energy and growth.

But although all these medications have changed the outlook for diabetics – from a rapidly fatal wasting disease to one that, managed correctly, allows patients to live  normal lifespans – Diabetes remained a permanent, progressive disease. Diabetics had to learn to live with a condition that could not be cured.

But all that is changing, thanks to new research.

One such ground-breaking study being done in the UK termed DIRECT (for Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial) commenced at the beginning of 2017 and will regularly monitor the 280 patients in the study over several years.

The findings from this study could completely change the way we treat Type II Diabetes.

We now know that for many patients, Diabetes can actually be reversed – or at least pushed into long term remission – with low calorie diets that induce sustained weight loss of about 15 kilograms.

Many of us – including doctors, nurses and patients – do not yet realise that type II diabetes can be reversed. Currently, our objective in treating Diabetes is to reduce blood sugar levels and minimise the damage caused to the heart, kidneys, eyes and other vital organs. Despite millions of diabetic patients taking tablets and/or injections to control their blood sugar levels, many still develop complications. Life expectancy in diabetics remains about six years less than non-diabetics.

As the number of people developing diabetes increases, so too does the cost of managing it – not just for patients themselves but also for the governments that have to fund health care costs. Drug companies earn millions from diabetics!

Recent research evidence has consistently demonstrated that weight loss of around 15 kg often produces total remission of type II diabetes – providing extended life expectancy plus a strong sense of personal achievement and empowerment.

Professor Roy Taylor of England’s Newcastle University, who has spent almost four decades studying the condition, explains how in those with Type 2 diabetes:

  • Excess calories leads to excess liver fat – causing the liver to respond poorly to insulin and so release too much glucose into the blood stream
  • Excess fat is also deposited in the pancreas, causing its insulin producing cells to fail
  • Losing fat from the pancreas through diet can re-start the normal production of insulin, reversing Type 2 diabetes
  • This reversal of diabetes remains possible for at least 10 years after the onset of the condition

Many diabetics believe that they faced an inevitable decline into further medication and further ill health because of their diabetes.

We now know that achieving and maintaining weight loss can reverse diabetes and keep it in remission.

Information

This entry was posted on December 15, 2021 by in Health Matters and tagged , .
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