Can Type 2 Diabetes Be Reversed??
What is type 2 diabetes reversal/remission?
Can Type 2 Diabetes be reversed? Yes, but before we delve deeper, let us understand what it means for type 2 diabetes to be in remission. The general perception is that when a person is completely off medication without experiencing detrimental effects or experiencing symptoms of a disease, then the condition has gone into remission.
In clinical practice and research, various criteria have been used to define type 2 diabetes reversal, also known as diabetes remission. Bodies such as the American Diabetes Association differentiate between partial and complete remission. It defines it as the absence of glucose-lowering therapy, normoglycaemia achieved for a duration of greater than one year.
Bodies like Afyacode and Diabetes UK define diabetes reversal as a state in which long-term improvement in insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes is achieved. When people with type 2 diabetes are able to reduce their HbA1c glucose levels to values lower than 6.0% (42 mmol/l) without taking diabetes medication for six months they are said to have reversed their diabetes. This is also identified as remission. However, there is currently no universally accepted standard to define remission.
Nonetheless, a few studies show that the concept of remission is possible, and needs to be taken into consideration in addition to further research.
A study by Roy Taylor, Professor of Medicine and Metabolism
A two-year study by Roy Taylor, a professor of Medicine and Metabolism at the Newcastle University found that the type 2 diabetes condition could simply be reversed when patients observe a change in diet and engage in more physical activities.
“It was possible to see that Type 2 diabetes might actually be a simple condition potentially able to be reversed back to normal by weight loss,” said Professor of Medicine and Metabolism, Roy Taylor from New Castle University.
The detailed study conducted from 2018 onwards shows that patients with the condition had too much fat inside the liver and pancreas which required utmost attention. Researchers took a group of patients with Type 2 diabetes and put them on a very low-calorie diet to lose up to 15 kilograms in weight as they were followed through a progression to normal. They observed the changes within a two-year period.
Of those patients who lost weight, all had completely reversed their diabetes and were no longer relying on diabetes medication. The study found that if patients lost less weight, about five Kilograms, the proportion of people who reported a reduction in signs and symptoms of diabetes was low.
However, with more weight loss of up to 15 kilograms or more, the proportion of people achieving remission was higher.
“That is quite remarkable, and there is a bottom-line, for those people who lost more than 10 kilograms, then two-thirds were free of diabetes” Roy Taylor continued to say.
Virta Health, 2019 Study Findings
Virta Health, a US-based Start-up that seeks to reverse Type 2 diabetes without medication also found in its 2019 study that the condition is not a life-long sentence of disease progression and medication use.
Among the 74 percent of patients enrolled in the Virta Treatment at two years, 67 percent of diabetes-specific prescriptions were discontinued, and patients simultaneously experienced an improvement in blood glucose level.
Further, 91 percent of patients who began on insulin were able to reduce or eliminate their dosage. According to Virta Health, on average, patients lost and sustained the loss of 12 per cent of their initial body weight at two years.
What does this mean to Kenyans?
First of all, these studies answer the question “Can type 2 diabetes be reversed?” The studies on the concept of diabetes reversal or remission indeed would bring good news to many Kenyans living with type 2 diabetes. This is because; it is evidently possible to control diabetes without resorting to lifelong medications or weight loss surgery. This breakthrough research would likely be a relief to those affected directly or indirectly by type 2 Diabetes to hundreds of thousands of Type2 diabetes patients in the country.
Currently, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) data shows Kenya has a total of 552,400 adult patients with diabetes, 3.3 percent prevalence from an adult population of over 25 million. It’s estimated that type 2 diabetes accounts for 90-95 percent of reported cases in the country and globally.
In addition to cutting down their dependency on medications, the cost burden would be relieved. For many Kenyans, the high cost of health care has been a key obstacle to accessing treatment.
How can remission be achieved?
At Afyacode, preliminary tests show that type 2 diabetes remission can be achieved, in both low-income communities and high-income communities.
We follow Patients’ body weight, waist circumference, blood pressure, and HbA1c measured at each doctor’s review. Other monitoring such as Problem Areas in Diabetes (PAID), lipids, renal, liver, and thyroid function at baseline, six and twelve months are carried out. More so, group updates reinforce main messages and provided support to participants in problem-solving and in maintaining lifestyle changes. This all comes together with the Afyacode Diabetes Reversal Program. For more details, you can contact our specialists at Afyacode.