Diabetes – Cure? Reverse?

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There is a lot of talk about the use of the words “cure” and “reverse” when it comes to diabetes.  I have seen huge debates going on over this.

First, let’s specify what type of diabetes we are talking about.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder. It cannot currently be “cured” but one day, I firmly believe that will change. For now, those with Type 1 can never be freed from the use of insulin. However, by using a healthy, whole food, low carb lifestyle, Type 1’s can significantly improve their management, lessening the amount of insulin used and decreasing the incidences of both high and low blood sugar.

When the terms “cure” and “reverse” are used, folks are typically referring to Type 2 diabetes. Can it be cured? I guess it depends on your opinion of what “cure” means.

To me, cure means that the condition no longer exists. That function has been restored. To me, it means that the condition won’t come back. Could we ever say that about Type 2 diabetes? Well, with Type 2, the condition of being symptom free, medication free, etc, may NOT be permanent. It is dependent upon maintaining the lifestyle that allowed you to achieve that state. Full function can never be restored, as at the diagnosis of Type 2, it is estimated that one may have as much as 80% beta cell destruction. So our blood sugar and insulin regulation will never be completely normal again. Finally, I think “cure” leads many to have a false sense of security, believing that they no longer have to monitor their condition. Those that have any form of blood sugar dis-regulation from even before pre-diabetes all the way up to Type 2, should monitor their blood sugar for life.

To me, reverse means “going in the opposite direction” like if you are driving in a car and you put it in reverse. So rather than diabetes getting progressively worse (as we are often told that Type 2 is chronic and progressive), it is improving.  Mine is NOT getting progressively worse because I have put on the brakes and started going in reverse 😉 This is what most of us are experiencing. We have adopted a lifestyle that allows us to be free of symptoms, maybe free of medicine. But we should never be free of monitoring. Even though I have an A1c of 5.0% and have never taken any medication for my diabetes, I DON’T consider myself “cured”. I consider it “reversed.” I still monitor my blood sugar and remain diligent about my lifestyle. Will this level of diligence hold off diabetes FOREVER? I don’t know. With two diabetic parents, diabetic grandparents and diabetic siblings, only time will tell if my efforts are enough to keep diabetes at bay forever. But I will not go down without a fight…lol!! Once again, this level of diligence, doesn’t say “cure” to me…so I don’t use that term personally.

When discussing the word “cure” for Type 2, Dr. Sarah Hallberg says “we’ll leave the grandstanding to Dr. Oz. What I can say is we remove diabetes from their problem list.”  That is just awesome!  Many other amazing, well-respected physicians from around the world who are using a healthy low carb lifestyle to treat diabetes, are using the term reverse, and are subsequently removing the diabetes diagnosis right off the patient’s diagnosis (or problem) list.  How great is that!!

Another term I have heard is “diabetes free.” Some say “remission.”  I also have heard folks calling themselves ex-diabetics or former diabetics. I like the positive self determination that that title implies.

The choice of words is not as important as our attitude toward our diabetes. As long as we realize that our condition requires lifelong monitoring and maintaining a healthy lifestyle,  I really think people should call it whatever it means to them personally.  Cure, reverse, remission….to-MAY-toes, to-MAH-toes!  Let’s not argue over semantics.  Don’t belittle others for their choice of words.  Each person should call it whatever empowers them to take charge of their diabetes.  Diabetes is the enemy.  Not other folks in the same boat working hard to put diabetes in its place.