The simple diet that could help 'reverse' Type 2 diabetes and help you lose weight

People with type 2 diabetes can send the condition into remission through changes to their diet and losing weight
-Credit: (Image: Alamy/PA)

An expert has shed light on the potential to reverse a condition that could be affecting up to five million people in the UK. Type 2 diabetes can lead to a host of complications, including damage to nerves and blood vessels impacting the eyes, kidneys and feet, as well as an elevated risk of heart attack and stroke.

While Type 1 is thought to be an autoimmune disease that happens when the body's own immune system destroys the cells that create insulin, Type 2 occurs when blood sugar levels become too high. There are beliefs that within the NHS that Type 2 diabetes can be 'reversed' by those wanting to avoid a number of issues it can cause, reports Wales Online.

One of the methods put forward in a bid to 'reverse' Type 2 diabetes is by following the 800-calorie 'soup and shake' diet. Natasha Marsland, senior clinical advisor at Diabetes UK, suggests that the term 'remission' is a more precise way of describing its benefits than 'reverse'.

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She said: "Type 2 diabetes remission is when your long-term blood sugars fall below the diabetes level and stay there for at least three months, without the need for glucose-lowering medication. By bringing your blood sugars into a non-diabetes range long term, the symptoms of diabetes and any new damage it can do to your body are on pause.

"Remission doesn't mean your diabetes has gone away forever, as your blood sugar levels can rise again and we don't call it 'reversing Type 2 diabetes' because remission isn't a cure for Type 2 diabetes. You still need to attend regular check-ups and get the support you need to treat or manage any existing complications."

Ms Marsland explained that achieving diabetes remission is largely dependent on weight loss. She said: "We know from evidence that the key to remission is weight loss. The chances of remission are better the sooner you try after your diagnosis. If you are living with obesity, your Type 2 diabetes is more likely to go into remission if you lose around 15kg (2 stone 5lbs) of weight as safely as possible."

She also noted that while weight is a significant risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, alongside genetics, family history, age, and ethnicitywith people of South Asian, Chinese, African-Caribbean, and black African origin at generally higher riskit's not the sole determinant for remission. Ms Marsland said: "Weight loss is not a guarantee for putting your type 2 diabetes into remission. However, losing weight if you need to can have a positive impact on your everyday health and wellbeing and long-term health."

The Diabetes UK expert also revealed how complex Type 2 diabetes is. She said: "The causes of Type 2 diabetes are multiple and complex, but we do know that in many cases it's caused by a build-up of fat inside the liver and pancreas, stopping them from working properly."

For some, weight loss surgery or medication (such as Ozempic and Wegovy) might be beneficial. Nutrition and healthy eating are also key.

Diabetes specialist dietitian William Hadfield, who has over 10 years experience working within the NHS, as well as being co-founder of WE Nutrition, said: "The majority of research shows us that weight loss reduces insulin resistance and blood glucose levels. However, we also know that 10 per cent of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are a healthy weight.

"People with Type 2 not wanting, or unable to lose weight may want to focus on reducing overall carbohydrate intake (e.g. bread, rice, pasta, potato, cereal) and increasing lean proteins (e.g. beans, lentils, eggs, white meats, fish), as well as vegetables and healthy fats (e.g. nuts, seeds, and olive, canola, nut and seed oils and spreads). Maintaining hydration with sugar-free fluids (e.g water, sugar-free squash, unsweetened tea or coffee) and only consuming alcohol within recommendations, can help with overall health, managing hunger and avoiding unneeded calories."

Mr Hadfield continued: "For all people, but especially for people with diabetes, it is important to avoid added sugar as this is linked with obesity and tooth decay. For people with diabetes, it can contribute to higher blood glucose levels. These foods (e.g. sweets, chocolate, highly processed foods and drinks) often have little or no nutritional value so rarely offer health benefits."

Mr Hadfield is advocating for people to focus on tweaks that are sustainable in the long run. He said people should choose a "dietary approach that works for you and your life" while also calling on people to examine every aspect of their lives. This ranges from the food and drink they eat to their lifestyle choices.

He said: "Consider every aspect of your life, and how food, drink and lifestyle fit into it, and find a way that allows you to live your life the way you want to live it, and also supports you in achieving your health goals."

Mr Hadfield also recommends steering clear from "overly restrictive and fad diets, unless supervised by a trained and qualified healthcare professional". He also urged against people expecting instant results, saying: "In such a fast-paced and immediate results-driven world, we can sometimes expect the same to apply to our health. It is important to recognise that sometimes slow and steady changes really do win the race with health and Type 2 diabetes."

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