Can type 2 diabetes be reversed?

After a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, you will naturally have a lot of questions. One that will enter many minds is whether this condition can be reversed? Technically, yes it can be reversed. However, it is a little more complicated than just a straightforward yes. The guide below explores what is required to knock type 2 diabetes back in its tracks, and why it occurs in the first place.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a condition that affects blood sugar levels, sometimes due to a lack of insulin produced by the pancreas (which requires confirming via a blood test) but often due to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when there has been a high demand for insulin over a long period of time. Insulin is the key to unlocking cells and allowing sugar (glucose) to move from the blood into cells for energy. If cells do not respond to insulin, because they are insulin resistant, then the sugar remains in the blood and high blood sugars are the result.


Typical symptoms of type 2 diabetes include but are not restricted to, a noticeable increase in urination, feelings of excessive thirst, tiredness, slow-wound healing, and regular thrush episodes.


Reversing the condition: is it possible?

Type 2 diabetes is a complex condition and many people have it but do not know about it. It is currently estimated that 850,000 people in the UK have diabetes but are unaware. The longer it goes undetected and unsupported the more challenging it can be to put it into remission. Reversing type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes requires appropriate and qualified type 2 diabetes support. But the positive news is that it is possible. Check out some of our success stories.


Losing weight: is it important?

Having a higher body weight does not mean you will have type 2 diabetes. However, it does put you at greater risk as more visceral adipose tissue (active fat) is associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. There is also evidence of higher pancreatic fat in those with type 2 diabetes.


The DiRECT study which is looking at weight loss and type 2 diabetes is seeing promising results for how impacting reducing body fat is for type 2 diabetes remission. It is important for us to note that as a clinic team, we do not agree with the approach for weight loss used in this study and trialled by the NHS. 850 calories shakes and soups for 12 weeks before reintroducing food can see rebound weight gain due to the fast and uneducated nature of the diet.


If you have already been diagnosed, finding a path to achieve weight loss could enable you to turn the tide on type 2 diabetes. However, the risk of it returning if you regain the weight is still there. Try a low-carb diet or engage with some lifestyle changes to support the journey, and don’t forget to involve professional assistance if you are ever struggling.


Eating the right food types

A low-carb diet has proven effective for weight management for diabetes patients, but there are other paths to consider as well. Try to avoid anything with added sugars. with diabetes, the blood is already too sugary so we want to avoid adding to that. The other recommended change is to avoid ultra-processed foods and fast foods if this is a part of your diet. Ultra-processed foods often have higher sugars, salt and inflammatory fats as well as usually being higher in carbohydrates. They lack nutrients from the processing they go through and are therefore high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and hyper-palatable foods meaning you are likely to overconsume.



Another big thing that will enable weight loss and improve insulin sensitivity (the opposite of insulin resistance and what we want) is to kickstart exercise! It doesn’t have to be anything major, but physical movement every day will help you stay motivated, see faster results, and protect your health while you do it. Take a gentle walk or try swimming at the local pool, and you will be pleasantly surprised by how great you feel once you get stuck in.


So, can type 2 diabetes be reversed?

Yes. It is possible to put the condition into remission, but you will have to make and keep up with the lifestyle changes to achieve it and keep it in remission. If you return to your previous way of eating you risk becoming type 2 diabetic again.


It is hugely positive that with food and lifestyle changes you can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and put it into remission if you are diagnosed. So give yourself the best chance of avoiding type 2 diabetes and all the other issues that come with it (risk of blindness, amputations etc.) by addressing any necessary lifestyle changes.