Preventing and Reversing Diabetes Naturally: Can You Really Reverse It?

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11.6% of Americans have diabetes–a condition that, if unmanaged, leads to severe complications and over 100,000 deaths annually. But what if you could reverse it? 

Research shows that it is possible to manage your disease and–in many cases–put it fully into remission. Keep reading to explore science-backed lifestyle habits known for naturally preventing and reversing diabetes.

Can you reverse diabetes?

While there’s no known cure for type 1 diabetes due to its complex autoimmune nature, it’s possible to manage it and dramatically minimize symptoms. 

And in the case of type 2 diabetes–which accounts for 95% of diabetes diagnoses–you can potentially reverse it with healthy lifestyle habits. Here are the most impactful ones to consider.

Lifestyle habits for preventing and reversing diabetes naturally

Maintain a healthy weight.

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for managing diabetes, and one key strategy is limiting your caloric intake.

In a study called Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) that followed 5,145 middle-aged, overweight or obese adults with type 2 diabetes for 10 years, participants who consumed a low-calorie diet not only lost weight but experienced significant improvements in blood sugar levels over time. Plus, they improved cerebral blood flow. 

This increased blood flow to the brain is important, as type 2 diabetes affects circulation. Over time, diabetes stiffens blood vessels and reduces oxygenation throughout the body. This can affect cognitive functions, as well as limb and eye health. 

But you don’t necessarily have to make drastic changes. Start by simply avoiding high-sugar foods (such as sodas) to eliminate “empty” calories.

Follow a low-glycemic diet.

Eating ample dietary fiber and foods low on the glycemic index (GI) is crucial for stabilizing blood sugar levels. 

Low GI foods digest slowly, increasing blood sugar more gradually than higher-GI foods while enhancing insulin sensitivity. Some fantastic, low-GI options to enjoy regularly include:

  • Legumes (lentils, black beans)
  • Whole grains (quinoa, whole wheat)
  • Fruits (especially berries like strawberries, which help stabilize blood sugar)
  • Vegetables (broccoli, kale)
  • Poultry (chicken, turkey)
  • Fatty fish (salmon, tuna)
  • Avocados
  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, sunflower seeds)

It’s also critical to avoid unhealthy, fat-laden, and sugary foods, such as:

  • Fried foods
  • Sweet beverages (sodas and even unsweetened fruit juice)
  • Candies
  • Baked goods (cookies, cakes)
  • Refined grains (white bread, pasta)
  • High-sugar alcoholic beverages 
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Processed meats (pepperoni, sausage)

Try intermittent fasting.

Research led by Dr. Valter Longo at the Longevity Institute at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology in California found that alternating between fasting and eating normally transformed non-insulin-producing cells into insulin-producers. 

According to Dr. Longo, “We were able to rescue mice from late-stage type 1 and type 2 diabetes. We also reactivated insulin production in human pancreatic cells from type 1 diabetes patients.”

So consider adopting one of these intermittent fasting methods:

  • The 5:2 Diet: Fast for 24 hours twice a week, with normal eating on other days.
  • The 16:8 Method: Eat only during an eight-hour window each day, fasting for the remaining 16 hours.
  • The Warrior Diet: Consume small amounts of raw fruits and vegetables during the day and one large meal at night.

When you do eat, choose low-GI foods and drink plenty of water. These strategies not only support blood sugar management but also improve metabolic health.

Get moving.

Regular physical activity is essential for reversing diabetes. It helps:

  • Lower blood sugar levels
  • Improve insulin sensitivity
  • Support a healthy weight 

Research also shows exercise can reduce HbA1c levels–a measure of average blood glucose–by 0.7 percentage points. 

Any exercise is beneficial. However, studies show that combining resistance training and aerobic exercise is particularly effective in reducing insulin resistance (a condition where the body’s cells don’t respond properly to insulin) among sedentary older adults with abdominal obesity.

Get enough sleep.

Sleep is crucial for your health and for reversing diabetes. Lack of high-quality sleep can lead to various issues, including:

  • Increased insulin resistance
  • Impaired glucose tolerance
  • Higher HbA1c levels indicating poor long-term glucose control
  • Disruptions in hormones regulating appetite and metabolism which can cause overeating and weight gain
Related:   Protecting Against Diabetes with Diet Changes

So make rest a priority, and aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night to support blood sugar regulation. 

If you have trouble sleeping, create a relaxing bedtime routine, including one or more of the following:

  • Establish a relaxing pre-sleep routine, including activities like meditating, reading a book, or taking a hot bath.
  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and disturbance-free.
  • Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Blue light from screens can reduce melatonin production, making it harder to sleep.
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime. 

Get more sun.

Researchers have linked low vitamin D levels with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Many diabetics lack this critical nutrient, which is essential for healthy insulin function. 

But correcting a deficiency is straightforward: moderate sun exposure. Just 10 to 15 minutes several times a week can boost your vitamin D significantly. If you burn easily, apply a mineral-based, broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect your skin while still getting the benefits of sunlight. 

Alternatively, you could consider a vitamin D supplement.

Keep stress in check.

Chronic stress increases cortisol, a hormone that releases glucose from the liver and raises blood sugar levels. Over time, high cortisol can also decrease insulin secretion and reduce cell sensitivity to insulin, causing sugar to remain in the bloodstream and disrupt blood sugar balance.

What’s more, stress can lead you to adopt behaviors that exacerbate diabetes, such as:

  • Unhealthy food choices
  • Emotional overeating
  • Physical inactivity

So incorporate stress reduction activities into your routine, such as:

  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Yoga
  • Breathing exercises, such as diaphragmatic (belly) breathing
  • Relaxing hobbies, such as gardening or knitting

Stay hydrated.

Water is essential for preventing and reversing diabetes, as it helps the kidneys remove excess sugar via urine. Even mild dehydration can cause significant blood sugar spikes. 

Proper hydration keeps the blood’s water-to-glucose ratio balanced, preventing high blood glucose concentration. So, drink about half your body weight in ounces of water daily.

Quit smoking.

Smoking makes it harder to control blood sugar levels in diabetics. That’s because nicotine makes cells less responsive to insulin, leaving blood sugar levels unregulated.

If you smoke, look for support groups or programs to help you quit and start a new, healthier chapter in life.

Herbal remedies to reverse diabetes

Certain supplements have unique benefits that can help reverse diabetes. Remember to consult your healthcare provider to customize a safe, effective treatment plan that fits your specific needs.

Black seed oil (nigella sativa)

Research shows that consuming black seed oil or crushed black cumin seeds can significantly reduce fasting blood sugar and HbA1c levels. 

This oil has been used for a variety of ailments for centuries. It’s known for:

  • Potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Increasing insulin sensitivity
  • Lowering the risk of diabetic complications

Some studies used two grams of crushed seeds, while others administered 1.5-3 ml of the oil daily. Start with a smaller dose, see how you feel, and consider gradually increasing. 

Cinnamon

Cinnamon can help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity. Rich in antioxidants and compounds that increase insulin effectiveness, it works by mimicking insulin and boosting glucose transport into cells. 

One study found that adding 6 grams of cinnamon to rice pudding significantly slowed stomach emptying and reduced blood sugar increases. Other research suggests that cinnamon can modestly decrease fasting blood sugar and HbA1c.

Fenugreek

Fenugreek is rich in soluble fiber, which slows carbohydrate digestion and absorption, preventing blood sugar spikes. 

Studies show that, combined with diet and exercise, consuming 10 grams of fenugreek seeds soaked in hot water daily can reduce fasting blood glucose and HbA1c levels in those with type 2 diabetes.

Gymnema Sylvestre

Gymnema Sylvestre is an herb known in Ayurvedic medicine as the “sugar destroyer.” Its active components–gymnemic acids–block glucose absorption in the intestines, preventing post-meal blood sugar spikes while reducing overall blood glucose levels.

Related:   Cause of Inflammation in Diabetes Identified

Gymnemic acids also help reduce sugar cravings by blocking your ability to taste sweetness. 

Berberine

Berberine is a plant-based compound found in goldenseal and barberry. It may help reverse diabetes by:

  • Stimulating insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells (cells that produce, store, and release insulin)
  • Improving insulin sensitivity 
  • Promoting glucose uptake by cells, similar to some diabetes medications
  • Significantly reducing fasting blood glucose levels and HbA1c in type 2 diabetics

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA)

ALA is an antioxidant known to lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity. It also eases symptoms of diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage resulting from prolonged high blood sugar). 

ALA also protects pancreatic cells and other tissues by:

  • Neutralizing free radicals (unstable, cell-damaging molecules)
  • Combating oxidative stress (free radical damage)
  • Reducing inflammation

All of the above are key factors in reversing diabetes.

Magnesium

Diabetics often have low magnesium levels. Studies show magnesium supplements can enhance insulin sensitivity and help regulate blood sugar levels. 

Magnesium helps insulin bind to cell receptors, which promotes glucose uptake by cells. It also supports glycolysis (the breakdown of glucose by enzymes), especially for those with type 2 diabetes.

Chromium

Chromium is an essential mineral that helps metabolize proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. And supplementing with it can improve insulin sensitivity. 

Research has highlighted significant reductions in fasting blood glucose and HbA1c with chromium supplementation. According to one study, 1000 mcg daily for four months is both safe and effective.

Bitter Melon

While research is limited, bitter melon may reduce HbA1c in diabetics. This fruit contains compounds like:

  • Charantin, which lowers blood glucose
  • Polypeptide-p, an insulin-like substance 
  • mcIRBP-19, a sequence of amino acids that binds to insulin receptors, lowering blood sugar levels

These components may help prevent post-meal blood sugar spikes.

It is possible to manage or even reverse diabetes, naturally. The lifestyle changes we’ve explored will not only help you manage your blood sugar levels, but improve your vitality and overall well-being. Start implementing these tips, and begin your journey toward a healthier, more vibrant you.

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Related:   Manage Diabetes- One More Benefit of Regular Exercise

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Author
Carrie Solomon

Carrie Solomon is a freelance health writer, web copywriter, and passionate wellness enthusiast. She’s on a mission to help wellness-focused companies everywhere educate, engage, and inspire their audiences to make the world a healthier, happier place. Learn more about her at copybycarrie.com or on LinkedIn.

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