Redefining type 2 diabetes – tools for achieving remission

Previously, type 2 diabetes was thought to be a progressive disease that gets worse over time, with the person eventually developing complications such as eye and nerve damage.

However, this is now known to not be the case and many people have been able to successfully reduce their HbA1c, medication and even place their type 2 diabetes into remission.

As part of Diabetes Prevention Week, we wanted to share with you how we are redefining type 2 diabetes as something you can control and even put into remission using the right tools.

Monitoring your carb intake

As many of us know, eating fewer carbs can help to lower both blood glucose and insulin levels, making it an important tool in achieving remission. Indeed, research has found that after 1 year of following a low carb diet, 26.2% were able to reduce their HbA1c to below the threshold for type 2 diabetes while taking no glucose-lowering medications or just metformin [1].

On the Low Carb Program, we suggest several practical changes that you can make to reduce your carb intake such as incorporating the plate method, which we learn about in week 3. Swapping high carb foods for low carb substitutes such as white rice for cauliflower rice is another example. Track your carb intake using the Food Diary on the Low Carb Program to help you to gain greater control.

Increasing activity levels

Alongside monitoring your carb intake, increasing your exercise levels can also help you to gain better glycaemic control. This is because during exercise, glucose is used by the muscles for energy, helping to reduce levels in the blood. Current guidelines suggest that we should aim for around 150 minutes of physical activity per week [2]. While this may seem like a lot, there are many small changes you can make to incorporate more activity into your daily routine.

Managing stress

Many of us have experienced feeling stressed – the feelings of butterflies in our stomach or a racing heart rate. A small amount of stress can be good for us, such as helping us to stay motivated to finish a task. The problem occurs when we’re stressed for long periods or experience frequent stressful events as this can be associated with several mental and physical health problems. One example is difficultly in controlling blood glucose levels, as the release of stress hormones can cause our blood glucose levels to rise. Hence, why stress management is another useful tool in helping to achieve remission. Read our article for Stress Awareness Month for some helpful tips on coping with stress.

Getting a good night’s sleep

Sleep is another important factor as it plays an essential role in the regulation of neuroendocrine functioning and glucose metabolism. So, getting a good night’s sleep can also be helpful for regulating blood glucose levels. For some people this may seem easier said than done. If you’re finding that you’re struggling to get to sleep, sign up to the Low Carb Program have a look at our relaxation techniques and 7 stress busting tips to help improve your sleep.

Changing your mindset

Achieving sustainable improvements in blood glucose may require changing your mindset around food. Some of us may be used to eating out of boredom or in response to emotions and it can feel like a difficult habit to break, especially if you find you crave sugary, high carb foods. Recognising what triggers your cravings and seeking support are just two examples of how you can break this cycle and move one step closer to remission.

Intermittent fasting

In addition to what we eat, meal timing has also found to be linked to improved type 2 diabetes control as it can help to reduce insulin resistance and promote insulin sensitivity [3]. Intermittent fasting is a method that involves eating within a specified window and then fasting for the remainder of the time. Indeed, some of our members have found that eating their first meal at lunch time instead of the morning (also known as the 16:8 method) has been beneficial at helping them to control their blood glucose levels and achieve remission. You can learn more about intermittent fasting in week 11 of the Program, or alternatively you can listen to Dr Jason Fung discuss the benefits of therapeutic fasting in his talk at the Public Health Collaboration conference in 2017.

Ready to take the first step towards remission? Then sign up to the Low Carb Program today!

References

[1]          Saslow, L.R., Summers, C., Aikens, J.E. and Unwin, D.J., 2018. Outcomes of a Digitally Delivered Low-Carbohydrate Type 2 Diabetes Self-Management Program: 1-Year Results of a Single-Arm Longitudinal Study. JMIR diabetes3(3), p.e12.

[2]          NHS, 2018. Physical activity guidelines for adults. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/

[3]          Halberg, N., Henriksen, M., Soderhamn, N., Stallknecht, B., Ploug, T., Schjerling, P. and Dela, F., 2005. Effect of intermittent fasting and refeeding on insulin action in healthy men. Journal of applied physiology99(6), pp.2128-2136.