Reversing type 2 diabetes naturally – Advice from a dietitian
Do you wake up in the morning and check your glucose level first thing every day? Has popping a diabetes pill become a part of your morning routine? And do you want the root cause of your diabetes to disappear?
Yes, it’s possible to eliminate type 2 diabetes from its root – Want to know how?
Let’s start by understanding why diabetes happens in the first place.
What causes type 2 diabetes?
When we consume food, our bodies break it down into carbohydrates, fats, and protein. This creates glucose in the body. For glucose to be converted into energy, we need our pancreas to release a hormone called insulin. Insulin transports sugar from your blood into your cells, where it’s stored or utilised for energy.
However, in the case of diabetics, the pancreas and cells are unable to function properly. In type 2 diabetes, even though insulin is produced, it’s either not enough or the cells aren’t sensitive enough to it anymore.
Now that glucose has nowhere to go, it accumulates in the blood. This is diabetes.
Lifestyle choices can contribute to type 2 diabetes. Living a sedentary life with little or no movement, sleeping irregular hours and being constantly stressed are all factors that can play a part.
How to reverse type 2 diabetes?
To reverse type 2 diabetes, we must look beyond finding low glycemic index foods and instead examine our everyday lifestyle – We need to identify the root cause so that we can resolve the question at its source.
When you have diabetes, many important minerals (including vitamins B, C, D, magnesium, copper, and zinc) begin to deplete and are washed out through urine. These are the nutrients that enable insulin to flow through the body and interact effectively with the body’s cells. But when they get depleted, it causes insulin and hormonal imbalances which can lead to joint or body pains.
So, before we can fix type 2 diabetes as a whole, we must first work on reducing or reversing the body’s insulin and hormonal abnormalities.
The dawn phenomenon
The dawn phenomenon is used to describe an unexpected early-morning rise in blood sugar (glucose) in diabetic patients, generally between 2 and 8 a.m.
However, it's important to understand that there's no reason to be concerned if your sugar levels are high at this time.
Many people believe that their diabetic medications aren't working or that something is wrong with their diet, but this is simply the dawn phenomenon at work. Even if a non-diabetic patient checks their blood sugar at this time, their glucose level will show a rise.
This occurs because several chemicals, including cortisol (stress hormone), growth hormones, and adrenaline, are at their highest during this period. This suggests that they obstruct the flow of insulin, resulting in a sugar rise.
So there’s no need to worry if your glucose level spikes between 2am and 8am – It’s the dawn phenomenon, and it’s normal.
Pay attention to your diet
A key step in reversing type 2 diabetes is to eat a well-balanced and varied diet. A varied diet does not consist of artificially flavoured foods. Instead, it has:
Complex carbohydrates include whole grains such as millet. When making chapatis, remember to use one kind of flour at a time (rather than multi-grain) to promote optimal zinc and iron absorption. Both simple and complex carbohydrates are converted to glucose and used as energy in the body, but complex carbs contain fibre, vitamins and minerals, and they take longer to digest. This means they have less of an immediate impact on blood sugar, causing it to rise more slowly.
Another important element to include in your diet is fibre. With diabetes, key nutrients such as Vitamin C, D, copper, and magnesium begin to deplete in the body. You need enough fibre in your diet to bring these nutrient levels back up. Fibre will also signal the body to start healing its metabolic syndrome, improving things like blood pressure. And when you have enough fibre in your diet, you won’t overeat, helping weight loss.
We also obtain fibre from fruits, but the fructose (natural sugar) content is high – So should diabetics eat fruits for the fibre, or avoid them because of the fructose?
Yes, as a diabetic you can eat fruits. Some fruits are better than others for diabetes control, such as berries. Other fruits should only be consumed sometimes, such as bananas, chikoos, mangoes, etc., as these are very high in fructose. You can eat some fruit in the morning, but remember to pair it with nuts and seeds. When you combine fruits and nuts, the fibre in the nuts ensures that glucose levels remain steady and that the glycemic load is not surpassed. Nuts are also high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.
Eating raw veggies 30 minutes before a main meal can also help keep glucose levels stable. The fibre in the veggies helps to balance out the carbohydrates in your main meal, resulting in a more controllable glucose level. So eat a salad or vegetable sticks 30-40 minutes before your main meal – It will help maintain your sugar level.
Another common misconception is whether or not diabetics can eat rice. You can eat rice as long as you consume it in moderation. Overeating rice is unhealthy. But I otherwise recommend you eat rice as it acts as resistant starch.
What is resistant starch? It’s very simple – It’s starch that resists being digested in the small intestine and instead gets digested in the large intestine. This is good for gut health and improves insulin sensitivity.
To prepare rice as resistant starch, all you need to do is boil the rice, let it cool, and then store it in the fridge. The next day, reheat it on a low flame and eat it. Eating rice in this way, after it has been cooked and cooled, helps convert the starch into resistant starch.
Remember, while eating rice you still need to be careful about the quantity and the way it’s been prepared – You can’t eat 2 platefuls of rajma-chawal and expect everything to be okay.
A wholesome diet should also include protein, which you can get from various food sources, such as beans, eggs, chicken, peas, legumes, lentils, tofu, nuts, and seeds. Protein-rich foods have a minimal impact on blood sugar, helping you avoid glucose level spikes. They also provide a feeling of fullness, helping to control your appetite.
Not only that, muscle growth, repair and maintenance also rely on protein. And there are metabolic benefits of protein too – Protein requires more energy to digest, so including it in your diet can slightly boost your metabolic rate, supporting your weight management and possibly increasing your insulin sensitivity.
Some protein sources, such as fish, lean poultry, legumes and nuts, can even help improve blood pressure control.
Diabetics benefit most from Indian spices.
For example, include cinnamon in your diet. And to make sure the antioxidant benefits of cinnamon aren’t lost, instead of boiling it, serve it as a garnish on top of warm water.
You can also chew cloves after your meal, or methi leaves, which are often used to regulate blood sugar levels. Methi seed water, sprouts, or methi roti can all help with maintaining optimal sugar levels.
Turmeric is another spice that helps maintain sugar levels, as it has anti-inflammatory properties. You can use it in tadka or, for good absorption, simply eat it with black pepper. You can also eat 3-4 raw curry leaves in the morning or aloe vera (in the form of amla and aloe vera juice) to control sugar spikes.
In a nutshell, almost all Indian spices help us to regulate and maintain our sugar levels.
As well as balancing your diet, you also need to pay attention to your exercise routine. Eating right but still leading a sedentary lifestyle won’t help you reverse type 2 diabetes from its root.
You need 30-40 minutes of physical activity every day, whether it’s yoga, aerobics, or strength training. It's critical to get moving! So remember, incorporate activity into your everyday routine.
And only working out for some time and then being sedentary for the rest of the day won’t help. You need to make sure you don’t sit in one place for long periods. The longer you sit in one place, the more insulin resistance will increase in the body. That’s why it’s recommended to move every 30-40 minutes.
Get a full night's sleep
Just like we need to recharge our phones, our body also needs quality sleep to recharge. If you’re unable to sleep properly at night, then your body will be at risk of cell and hormonal imbalances. In severe cases, this could lead to polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or other health-related issues.
It’s important to keep your gadgets away and get a good night's quality sleep so your body can function effectively the next day.
Keep stress in check
The most important thing to reverse type 2 diabetes is to learn to cope with and manage stress.
When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that has a wide range of effects on the body, including on your metabolism and immune response. As long as your cortisol level remains high, your insulin level will decrease, which will increase your blood sugar level.
It’s easier said than done, but keeping your mind relaxed by meditating or practising breathing exercises could help you reduce stress and manage your diabetes.
Once you master these 5 aspects of your routine, you’ll improve your odds against any health issue that comes your way, whether it's diabetes or anything else. Because once you start taking care of your body, mind, and soul, you’ll be repaid with boosted immunity, stamina, energy, and overall health and happiness.
I’ve literally seen the benefits my clients have achieved by including these aspects in their daily routines.
That’s why I can tell you confidently that if you take care of your diet, movement, sleep routine, and stress, you too could reverse your type 2 diabetes at its root!
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