Type 2 diabetes is an epidemic in south Texas. Once you have the disease, you have it for life, but there is a way to at least temporarily reverse the effects.
When somebody with Type 2 diabetes is able to return their blood sugar to normal levels, that is called diabetes remission. But not everyone is the best candidate to take this on.
"In order for people to become diabetic, they have to go through a state of insulin resistance, and this is actually true for the vast majority of patients with diabetes," said Dr. Alberto Chavez-Velazquez, an endocrinologist with the Texas Diabetes Institute, a partnership between University Health and UT Health San Antonio.
He says that when a first-time patient with newly diagnosed diabetes comes in, education starts right away.
"The diabetes education includes not only doing a healthy diet, but also includes some degree of exercise most times of the week and also the importance of monitoring their blood sugar levels," Chavez-Velazquez said.
That new diagnosis can often be overwhelming.
"They have to take medication every day for the rest of their lives," Chavez-Velazquez added. "Sometimes they have to take it two times a day or, even more important, have to take three or four injections every day. This can be something that can be overwhelming or scary, especially at the beginning when someone is just trying to process their new condition."
But, according to experts, that medication can also reverse the diabetes in many cases.
"We have regimens that are very safe that are once a week and, combined with Metformin and diet and exercise, they can take down their diabetes in a very effective way," Chavez-Velazquez said.
The ideal candidates for diabetes remission include patients recently diagnosed with the disease, those who are not on insulin, people who change their diet dramatically by lowering carbohydrates and sugars, and those who exercise regularly to lose weight and help improve blood sugar levels.
"There are patients who can keep the numbers in the normal range for five years or more before they can get back to medications."
Those patients who are considering reversing diabetes should talk to their doctor before making any changes to their lifestyle or medication.
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