Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or when your body is unable to effectively use the insulin it produces. It is a disorder caused by a malfunction in the way you make and/or use insulin.
Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas. It regulates and lowers your blood sugar by moving it out of your bloodstream and into your body’s cells.
Hyperglycemia, or elevated blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes. Over time, if you don’t treat or manage it well, it may lead to serious damage to many of your body’s systems, especially your nerves and blood vessels.
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Causes of hyperglycemia
- You probably eat more food than your body can convert to energy or you exercise less than you should.
- If you have type 1 diabetes, and you didn’t give yourself enough insulin.
- You have stress from an illness, such as a cold or flu.
- You’re stressed out due to factors such as family conflicts, school, dating or marital problems.
- If you have type 2 diabetes, your body may have enough insulin, but the insulin is not as effective as it should be.
The signs and symptoms of hyperglycemia include:
- High blood sugar levels
- Increased thirst
- Frequent urination
- High levels of sugar in your urine.
To properly manage your diabetes, you should check your blood sugar often. Ask your doctor how often you’ll have to check your sugar levels, and what your readings should be.
Checking your blood as often as you should, and treating high blood sugar early will help you reverse type 2 diabetes and avoid problems associated with hyperglycemia.
Testing your blood sugar
If you are testing your blood sugar at home, you should follow the directions that came with your blood sugar testing meter. However for most meters, the general procedure is as follows:
- Wash your hands and place a test strip in your blood sugar meter
- Clean the tip of one of your fingers
- Prick the side of the finger with a lancet to draw a drop of blood
- Place the tip of the test strip on the drop of blood so that the test strip draws up the drop of blood
- In a few seconds, the blood sugar meter will give you a reading.
After you’ve checked your blood sugar, compare your reading with the ranges below (1):
- Normal blood sugar should be less than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L ) after fasting overnight. It should be up to 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L ) two hours after you’ve had a meal.
- You have prediabetes if your blood sugar is between 100-125 mg/dL (5.6-7.0 mmol/L) after fasting overnight
- You’re likely to have diabetes if your reading is 126 mg/dL (7.0 mmol/L) or higher after fasting overnight, or higher than 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L) at any time
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Keep a log of your readings so that you’ll take them to your doctor on your next visit. A single abnormal blood sugar reading is not sufficient to determine that you’re diabetic. You should be concerned about a diagnosis of diabetes if you have at least two or more readings that are high.
You should also keep in mind that the glucometer readings you get at home are not considered accurate enough to make a diagnosis of prediabetes or diabetes.
A single abnormal blood sugar reading is not sufficient to determine that you’re diabetic. After you’ve had two or more such readings, consult your doctor.
If your blood sugar has been high a couple of times on your glucometer, your doctor will run a simple blood test to confirm the diagnosis.
How to treat high blood sugar
You can lower your blood sugar level when you exercise. If your blood sugar tends to run high, check your blood sugar before you exercise.
If your sugar level is above 240 mg/dl, check your urine for ketones. If you have ketones in your urine, do not exercise (1).
Exercising when ketones are present in your urine may make your blood sugar level go even higher. Therefore it is not advisable to exercise whenever you have high blood sugar.
If your blood sugar is always high above 240 mg/dl, you’ll need to work with your doctor to find the safest way for you to lower your blood sugar level so that you can exercise. Cutting down on the amount of food you eat is one of the ways to reverse type 2 diabetes.
It’s advisable to work with your dietitian to make changes to your meal plan. If changes in your diet and exercise don’t work to reduce your blood sugar, your doctor may change the number or dosage of the medication or insulin that you’re taking. They may also possibly change the timing of when you take them.
What if high blood sugar goes untreated or uncontrolled?
Hyperglycemia can be a serious problem for you if it goes untreated. Therefore, it’s important to have yourself treated as soon as you detect that your blood sugar levels tend to be high.
If you fail to treat hyperglycemia, it will result in a condition called ketoacidosis, also known as diabetic coma. Ketoacidosis occurs when your body doesn’t have enough insulin.
Without insulin, your body is unable to use glucose for fuel. When this happens, your body breaks down fats to use for energy, instead of glucose.
When your body breaks down fats, it produces waste products called ketones. Your body is not conditioned to tolerate large amounts of ketones, therefore it will try to get rid of them through your urine.
Unfortunately, your body is unable to release all the ketone waste products through your urine. The leftover then builds up in your blood, leading to ketoacidosis.
Ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms of ketoacidosis include:
- Fruity smell in your breath
- Very dry mouth
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea and vomiting.
How you develop Type 2 diabetes
You’ll develop Type 2 diabetes when your body becomes resistant to insulin or when your pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin. It is caused by defects in both the way your pancreas produces and uses insulin.
When this occurs and progresses to the point where your pancreas can no longer spontaneously release enough insulin to overcome your body’s resistance to it, your blood sugar levels rise.
If there’s too much glucose in your blood, you have a problem. Excess blood sugar can damage your blood vessels.
In addition to this, the tissues in your body can not effectively use the glucose in the food you eat for energy. Too much of the glucose stays in your bloodstream, instead of entering your cells for use as energy.
Before your blood glucose level becomes consistently high, there must have been some underlying illness that might have been going on for years before your blood sugar starts rising and becoming very high.
When insulin-producing beta cells in your body start dying or malfunctioning, your pancreas will react in such a way that too much insulin will be in your blood. At this point, your body is said to be insulin resistant.
Your blood sugar becomes high, and you’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. If this happens, you should start considering how to reverse type 2 diabetes as quickly as you can.
Risks of having too little insulin
The problem you have at this stage is that the ability of your pancreas to make insulin gets worse. The insulin that you’re able to make isn’t working very well also.
Because insulin is what you need to convert the sugar that you consume into energy, the shortage of insulin results in excess sugar in your blood.
A defect in insulin function in your body doesn’t only cause your blood sugar to rise. It results in the progression of your condition to type 2 diabetes, also leading to weight gain.
Certain conditions or diseases may cause damage to the insulin-producing cells in your pancreas. Exactly why this happens is not known, but genetics and environmental factors, such as being overweight and inactive may be contributing factors (2).
Risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes
- Being overweight or obese – if you’re overweight, this is the main risk factor for type 2 diabetes. However, you don’t have to be overweight to develop the condition.
- Eating an unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity – the less active you are, the greater your risk of type 2 diabetes. If you’re physically active, it helps you control your weight. The activity uses up glucose as energy and makes your cells more sensitive to insulin.
- Smoking increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
- Family history – having a first-degree relative with type 2 diabetes. The risk increases if your parent or sibling has type 2 diabetes.
- High blood pressure or raised cholesterol levels
- Fat distribution – if you store fat mainly in your abdominal area. A waist size of 31.5 inches or more (women) or more than 37 inches (men)
- Race – it’s unclear why, but people of certain races (including black, Hispanic, American Indian, and Asian-American people) are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than white people are.
- Age – your risk increases as you get older, especially after age 45. However, type 2 diabetes is also increasing now among children, adolescents, and younger adults. Adult-onset diabetes is primarily seen in middle-aged adults over the age of 40.
- Gestational diabetes – if you developed gestational diabetes while you were pregnant, your risk of developing type 2 diabetes is high. Also, if you gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds (4 kilograms), you’re also at risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Areas of darkened skin – this usually occurs in your armpits and neck. If these areas are darkened, you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes because this condition often indicates insulin resistance.
Complications of Type 2 diabetes
If you have Type 2 diabetes, you may easily ignore it, especially if it’s in the early stages when you’re feeling fine. However, over time you stand the risk of developing complications.
If untreated or poorly treated, type 2 diabetes can affect many major organs in your body. These include your eyes, heart, kidneys, blood vessels, and nerves.
If you control your blood sugar levels and reverse type 2 diabetes, it can help prevent complications.
- Heart disease and blood vessel disease including high blood pressure, stroke, and atherosclerosis (narrowing of your blood vessels).
- Kidney disease – kidney damage can result from uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes. This can lead to kidney failure. You may require dialysis or a kidney transplant.
- Eye disease caused by eye damage such as cataracts and glaucoma. This may damage the blood vessels of the retina in your eyes, potentially causing blindness
- Hearing impairment – problems with hearing are more common in people with diabetes.
- Nerve damage (neuropathy) which raises the risk of amputation
- Skin infections – Type 2 diabetes may leave you more susceptible to skin problems, including bacterial and fungal infections
- Slow healing of wounds – if left untreated, your cuts and blisters can become serious infections, leading to poor healing. Severe damage may even require toe, foot or leg amputation
- Sleep apnea – you may develop sleep apnea which is common in people with type 2 diabetes. You are at even higher risk if you are obese as well.
- Alzheimer’s disease. You stand a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease, though it’s not clear why. The worse your blood sugar control, the greater the risk appears to be.
The good news is that modifying your diet and exercising can help decrease your insulin resistance and its associated weight gain. You will ultimately be able to prevent or even reverse type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes pandemic
As the incidence of Type 2 diabetes continues to increase worldwide, the fight against the chronic condition continues. There’s been research done that explains not only what triggers type 2 diabetes but also how to reverse the condition.
Fortunately, the findings also shed light on what can lead to your remission from type 2 diabetes after its reversal.
It was reported that between 1980 and 2014, the number of people living with diabetes across the world had increased from about 108 million to 422 million. About 90% of them have type 2 diabetes.
Unfortunately, pharmacological interventions have done little to stop what some have referred to as a diabetes pandemic. Currently, type 2 diabetes is known to generate billions of dollars for pharmaceutical companies.
How to reverse Type 2 Diabetes
Although there’s no cure for type 2 diabetes, studies have shown that it’s possible for some people to reverse it. Through diet changes and weight loss, you may be able to reach and hold normal blood sugar levels without medication.
There is now scientific proof that you can reverse type 2 diabetes without medication. Lifestyle interventions seem to be succeeding where other approaches have failed.
You may now use nutritional methods to reverse Type 2 diabetes. Your disease doesn’t have to be progressive and irreversible. If you have type 2 diabetes, you can clearly treat the condition when you use an effective lifestyle intervention.
A couple of years ago, results of a clinical trial study showed that you can reverse type 2 diabetes and achieve remission through intensive weight loss programs, without taking any medication.
In Japan they target the root cause of health problems, while here in the US and other western countries, symptoms are managed with medication (7).
And that’s why in Japan they have far lower levels of diabetes type 2, heart disease, obesity, and cancer. That’s also why they live much longer than us on average.
Although there’s no cure, studies have shown that it’s possible for you to reverse type 2 diabetes through diet changes and weight loss. You may be able to reach and hold normal blood sugar levels without medication, by managing the underlying cause of Type 2 diabetes.
Medications merely treat your symptoms of the disease. You don’t just have to “manage” your diabetes as it progresses.
Instead, you can often lower your blood sugar to normal levels with diet alone. When you do this successfully, you may be able to avoid or discontinue most of the medications that you’re taking (8).
Normal blood sugar levels and fewer or no medications likely means there’ll be no progression of your disease and no progression of any complications.
You can help reverse type 2 diabetes and be able to live a long, healthy life, with your toes, eyesight, and kidneys intact.
If you are not on any medications, you can start your journey back to health today and reverse type 2 diabetes.
Many diabetes success stories have revealed proven scientific methods used to reverse type 2 diabetes. The disorder has been reversed in a lot of people, and they are no longer on medication.
If you are on medications for diabetes or for other conditions, consult your doctor before beginning any lifestyle change, such as a low-carb diet, so that your medications can be adjusted safely as your blood sugar levels improve.
To effectively reverse type 2 diabetes, your goal should be long-term. That goal is clearly achievable by properly managing your diabetes. Diabetes management works to reduce insulin resistance and improve (or preserve) beta-cell function with diet, physical activity, and medication when appropriate.