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Why is it called “remission” rather than “reversal” or "cure" of type 2 diabetes?

Updated: Apr 4

Many people put into search engines questions like: “How do you reverse type 2 diabetes?”, “Is type 2 diabetes reversible?”, “What foods help cure type 2 diabetes?” 

But if you look around this site, you’ll quickly see we never use the words “reverse”, “reversible”, “reversal,” or "cure."

We always use the word remission of type 2 diabetes. Why is that? 

“The word remission has a specific meaning in medicine. It means that while symptoms and markers of the disease are no longer present, the risk of it coming back remains,” explains Dr. Leanne Reimche, a clinical associate professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Calgary. Dr. Reimche is the Chief Medical Officer of the Institute for Personalized Therapeutic Nutrition (IPTN), which developed this site.  

In cancer, remission means that signs and symptoms of cancer may have disappeared, but microscopic cancer cells may still be in the body. 

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, remission means your HbA1c (a.k.a A1c, a measure of your blood sugar over three months) is back below 6.5% without the use of medication. If the A1c is between 6.0% and 6.4%, you are back in the prediabetes range of blood sugar. If it is below 6.0% you have put your blood sugar into normal ranges. 

“It is important to stress that any improvement in your blood glucose levels is a huge win for your health,” explains Dr. Reimche. “Continued high glucose damages the tiny blood vessels all over our body, such as in our eyes, kidneys, cardiovascular system, and feet, eventually leading to the common complications of vision loss, kidney disease, diabetic neuropathy, and heart disease.” 

As this website details, one way to lower your blood glucose and help put your diabetes into remission is to reduce the amount of fat that is in your liver and pancreas. Three evidence-based ways to do this are a very-low calorie diet, a low carb or very low carb (ketogenic) diet, and bariatric surgery. In addition, decreasing your consumption of sugary beverages, sweet treats, or foods that rapidly digest to sugar, will also reduce the “glycemic load” (i.e. sugar load) coming into your body that your pancreas must deal with by pulsing out insulin. 

Along with changing how and what you eat, you can improve your blood sugar levels by prioritizing a good night’s sleep, walking after meals, enjoying regular movement, and reducing stress. 

However, these actions take daily commitment and can be hard to maintain. It is normal to have periods in your life — vacations, special events like seasonal celebrations or birthdays, stressors like family upset, job loss, or times of grieving — where you may find it very hard to prioritize self-care or follow a specific way of eating.  

If that happens, you may find your blood glucose rises again — hence the reason we call the process “remission,” not reversal or cure. 


But here’s the great news: Just get back on track with your lifestyle actions as soon as you can, and your blood glucose will likely trend lower again, especially if your type 2 diabetes diagnosis was less than five years ago and you still have good pancreatic function. 

Be sure to explore all the patient resources in this site for more support and information. And sign up for our newsletter to be kept informed of blog posts and new helpful tips. Finally, check out our growing gallery of success stories for inspiration for your remission journey. And feel free to contact us at We love to hear about your experiences. 



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