To answer this question, one must understand what happens in Type 2 Diabetes first. Normally, when we eat, our bodies convert some of the digested food to glucose (sugar). This is what is measured in the blood as Fasting Blood Sugar (after an overnight fast) or Random Blood Sugar (at any time of the day). Both Fasting Blood Sugar and Random Blood Sugar have normal values. When we consistently eat more than our bodies can handle over a long period of time, the system responsible for handling blood sugar levels gradually becomes weakened and is unable to cope. Blood sugar levels rise above the normal range and when tested, the person is said to have Type 2 Diabetes. There is currently no drug that will automatically restore this system so, there is no cure for Type 2 Diabetes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes starts with managing food intake. The quantity of food eaten has to be reduced to amounts the “weakened” system can cope with or can handle. If this alone cannot lower blood sugar levels sufficiently, then drugs are introduced. These drugs act by trying to stimulate the “weakened” system to act. Sometimes, it gets to the point where the system controlling blood sugar stops functioning totally and this is when insulin injections are required.
Diabetes Reversal simply means restoring high blood sugar levels to normal usually with diet and weight loss. If dietary control is started early on, one can lower blood sugar to normal levels and weight loss usually follows. This is not the same as cure because once such a person starts eating more than necessary and gains weight again, high blood sugar levels and Type 2 Diabetes sets in again!
Children are now getting Type 2 Diabetes. This is because children spend less time on outdoor or physical activities and more time on “screen” activities like watching television and playing video or phone games. They also consume more high calorie foods like soft drinks, cakes and ice cream. As a result, more children are getting overweight or obese. Excess weight is often followed by Type 2 Diabetes.
There are several types of diabetes but the most common are Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes is not very common especially in Africa and it usually starts in childhood. In this form, the body is totally unable to handle glucose produced from food because it lacks insulin. Patients therefore require treatment with insulin injection for life. With Type 2 Diabetes, there is some insulin production but it’s not as much as it used to be. This is the reason why patients are no longer able to maintain normal blood glucose levels. They need to reduce their food intake to levels that match their lowered insulin levels. The third most common type of Diabetes is Diabetes in pregnancy. This usually occurs when a woman develops Type 2 Diabetes while pregnant.
Type 2 Diabetes does not occur suddenly. The changes which lead to abnormally high blood glucose levels take place gradually over several years. So, patients move from normal to pre-diabetes to diabetes. Pre-diabetes is the stage in between; when a person’s blood sugar levels are above the normal range but not yet in the Diabetic range. When necessary changes to diet are made at this point, blood glucose levels easily return to normal.
Diabetes can be prevented by adopting the right lifestyle behaviours with regards to eating habits and exercise. Understanding how and why these are necessary goes a long way to sustaining these changes.