Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Type 2 Diabetes Remission?
In the past, type 2 diabetes was thought to be a disease that did not get better, only gradually worse over time. People were given medications and taught about lifestyle changes that might slow the progress of the disease. Remission was not something they talked about or hoped for. Today, things are different. A growing body of research shows remission is possible when people change what and how they eat. Type 2 diabetes remission means that you have normal blood sugar levels for three months as measured by your HbA1C (a blood test) without taking any diabetes medications.
Can Anyone With Type 2 Diabetes Achieve Remission?
This is still unclear, and more research is needed. We do know that remission is more likely if lifestyle changes are made as soon as possible after the diagnosis of diabetes is made, but it doesn’t mean that a person can’t go into remission 25 years after being diagnosed. Studies have shown that significant and sustained weight loss — for example, in the range of 10 kg (about 22 pounds) as shown in some studies — is a contributing factor. But it is not the only way. You can improve your blood glucose levels by consuming less sugar, or foods that digest to sugar, without the need to lose any weight. People with type 2 diabetes who start with greater pancreatic function at baseline, prior to lifestyle changes or to interventions like bariatric surgery, are more likely to undergo remission. People who have had shorter diabetes duration are also more likely to undergo remission. After a long time with diabetes, pancreatic function may decline, making it more challenging. Nevertheless, any change in diet and lifestyle can still help with the reduction of medication and diabetes complications, while improving health, blood sugar levels, and overall wellness, even if remission is not achieved.
Does Being in Type 2 Diabetes Remission Prevent Future Complications?
By being in remission, blood glucose levels stay in a healthy range. Being in remission also helps to keep blood pressure and cholesterol down, and reduces inflammation. Having blood glucose, blood pressure, blood lipids, and inflammation levels in a healthy range is usually linked to a lower risk of complications, such as serious problems with the eyes, feet, or heart. So, remission is likely to do the same. Regular health checks are encouraged to assure blood glucose levels are healthy and can be monitored and addressed properly.
What Are the Evidence-Based Ways to Achieve Remission?
Currently, research evidence is showing that type 2 diabetes may be put into remission by three different ways: 1. A very low calorie diet 2. A low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet 3. Bariatric surgery Why do these three methods work? Each method helps you lose excess body fat, especially from around your abdomen and helps you improve your blood glucose levels by reducing the amount of sugar you consume. You can read more about each of these methods in the ebooklet. Naturally, the ebooklet and this site puts the focus on 1 and 2, changing what you eat. That's because you can easily do this at home with support from your healthcare provider.
Under the current standard of care in Canada, only 1.47% of patients with type 2 diabetes achieve remission.
However, if given the right information and support to change what they eat, that number could become as high as 77% .
What if I Have Been Diagnosed With Prediabetes or Have High Blood Glucose?
The information on this website will still be useful to you. You may be able to reverse your symptoms and prevent type 2 diabetes all together. It is still important to talk to your health care provider about your interest in trying one of these approaches, especially if you are taking medications.
Why is the Term 'Remission' Used Instead of 'Cure'?
Cure means that the condition is completely gone. Type 2 diabetes remission is something you must keep working at in order to stay in remission. Blood glucose levels are connected to how your body responds to what you eat, so if you've had type 2 diabetes in the past, and then eat a lot of sugary foods your glucose levels could go up again, until they are at the levels that mean you have diabetes once more. Even though some of the health benefits you got by getting into remission the first time may stay, it is important to return to working for remission if your blood glucose levels rise again.
How Do I Ask My Healthcare Provider for Support to Try This Approach?
If you are not sure how to talk to your health care provider, you might want to share with them the sample letter you can find under the "For Patients" section of this website. Remission of type 2 diabetes with a change in diet, also known as therapeutic nutrition, is a relatively new approach to managing diabetes. If your health care provider wants more information about the rapidly growing body of evidence, our letter summarizes some of the recent advances.
Where Can I Learn More?
You can download our ebooklet at no cost from this website. It invites people living with type 2 diabetes to think differently about their diabetes. It offers some hopeful information and describes how many people can reverse their diabetes symptoms by changing what and how they eat. You can talk to your doctor, dietitian, pharmacist, or closest healthcare professional. Tell them what you have learned about type 2 diabetes remission from this website and ask for their support. Changing from thinking about diabetes as a ‘chronic progressive disease’ to a condition that can put put into remission can be very valuable for you and your healthcare provider.