Curing or reversing diabetes is often seen on tabloids and in headlines around the web. mySugr Coaches Kristen and Maggie go into detail on big questions of if it’s possible to reverse or cure diabetes.
Let's discuss how to manage blood sugars, reduce A1C levels, and live with diabetes.
Note: We cannot provide medical advice. Please contact your doctor directly for specific questions about your care.
- Type 1 vs. Type 2 diabetes
- Factors that help reduce A1C levels
- Knowing your blood sugar numbers
Scott K. Johnson - Hey, thanks for tuning into another episode of Coaches Corner. It is great to see you again. Let me know where you're watching from today. Leave that in the comments. One small way that mySugr is giving back is by hosting these short conversations with our diabetes coaches to talk about staying healthy in body and mind. We really appreciate you sharing some time with us. Now, I do have to give the standard disclaimer. We cannot provide medical advice. Please contact your doctor specifically for direct questions around your care. Today mySugr coaches, Kristen and Maggie, cover the million dollar question, can diabetes be cured or reversed? Here we go. Hi Maggie, hi Kristen, great to see you again.
Kristen Bourque - You too.
Maggie Evans - Hello.
Scott K. Johnson - All right, so today we are talking about whether you can cure your diabetes. I know this is something, I see this every time I go out to grocery store, wherever, if I'm out, the tabloids are talking about "cure your diabetes, "reverse your diabetes." And I personally find it kind of frustrating. So let's just ask the question, can someone cure their diabetes?
Maggie Evans - So great question. And like you said, it's something that we very commonly see everywhere, right? And people talk about it, who have diabetes there are claims that people have cured or put it into remission. So I think we hear this language quite a bit around it. Unfortunately, when it comes down to it, we cannot cure it or make it go away completely. But we can find ways to effectively manage diabetes and our blood sugar numbers with our diet, our lifestyle, combination of medications as well. And I think when either doctors or healthcare professionals or just lay people in the community say that they've reversed or "cured" their diabetes, it really just means that they're able to manage their diabetes without medication. So they're able to manage it with their diet and specifically their lifestyle in combination to help manage their numbers.
Scott K. Johnson - Yeah, and there's pretty vast differences between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes in this case. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Maggie Evans - Yes, of course. So with type 1 we really want to be cognizant of the fact that it is an autoimmune disease in which the cells of the body attack the cells that create insulin. So there's just a lack of insulin. So there's no way that someone with type 1 diabetes is going to survive without insulin. So they have to have insulin manage their blood sugars. Now with type 2, we have a little bit more freedom, so to say, but they're most likely still producing insulin. But the insulin is just not as effective. So we're seeing that insulin resistance that we've talked about before. But knowing that the insulin is still there and finding ways to help that insulin be more effective can be a great strategy for someone with type 2.
Scott K. Johnson - Let's dig into some of those things. So what are some changes that I can start making, or things, what can I do to help maximize my body's use of insulin or help reduce my A1C and manage my diabetes?
Kristen Bourque - Yeah, so Scott, and again, this is the same for talking type 1 and type 2 because we're focused on just being healthy overall. So of course we talk so much about the importance of eating a balanced diet and being mindful and aware of the amount of carbohydrates that we consume. And as we know, we get carbohydrate foods from fruits and dairy foods, but also things like our grains, our breads, pastas, beans, rice, things like that. So being mindful and aware. When we talk about a balanced diet, we really just want to focus on eating a lot of whole unprocessed food. So again, there's nothing wrong with things that come from a package, but we have to be more mindful and aware that those might have a lot of additives. So lots of leafy greens and fruits and beans, nuts and seeds, things that are, again, really nutrient-dense and provide a lot of health benefits for us. Now, in regards to, of course we talked about nutrition but activities. So being mindful and aware of incorporating some sort of movement in our day; walking more, sitting less. If you enjoy some sort of activity, I was going to say going to the gym, but if you incorporate some sort of activity that you can do out and about is also beneficial to incorporate too. It's important also to know our numbers. So Maggie had mentioned our A1C. A1C again is an average look at our glucose over a three month period of time. So when you go into your regular doctor's visits, you want to make sure that you are kind of have a little bit of an idea where your number is at. But also again kind of the improvements you've made because every point reduction in your A1C is a 30% reduction in diabetes complication risks. So even if you're not at that goal, A1C, improvement still helps too. And of course we know monitoring our blood sugar is so important too. So that A1C is kind of more the longer term, but monitoring regularly day to day also gives us a really nice peek into what things that we're doing and what's kind of working for us, maybe what we need to work on a little bit too. And then of course, work with your diabetes care team. So making sure that you communicate with them often about some of the concerns that you have, but also rely on them for the support. They're the experts and they are here to help you to manage and feel more comfortable with your diabetes.
Scott K. Johnson - And why is it important? So we've talked about being able to, maybe if I do some of these things that help my body use insulin better, it might ease my day to day kind of grind of living with diabetes, but there's more to it than that, right? Why do I need to care if my blood sugars are where they should be?
Kristen Bourque - So I think it's important too to remember a lot of times people will feel okay for the most part if their blood sugars or maybe not aware of their numbers, but we can go day to day, but where we see the impact is the longterm implications that can happen from not managing our blood sugar over time. So in the short time, again, we may be able to feel okay and maybe a little bit lethargic or whatnot, but over time those are where those risks come into play. So things like again, neuropathy where we have maybe numbness or tingling in our hands and feet, our vision can be affected. So there's a lot of factors. So that's also another important thing is that we're also not just checking our numbers for diabetes and where our numbers are out there, but also those other tests that your doctor generally will review with you to make sure that those complications are kind of being managed as well.
Scott K. Johnson - One of the points that I think is really interesting around this conversation is people who are able to manage their diabetes with just diet and exercise. And considering that having cured or reversed their diabetes. But what if I'm doing that and I stop, I stop my daily exercise, I stop following a healthy diet, what happens then?
Maggie Evans - Yeah, great concept to think about. So I always think of these two things as being prescriptive lifestyle. So in terms of diabetes, if we stop the behaviors that we know are helpful for managing it, such as exercise and managing our diet, we actually have a higher chance of redeveloping diabetes. Those blood sugars can go back up. We can see that A1C start to creep back up. So when I use the concept of prescriptive lifestyle, it's kind of like, just like taking your medication every day, we've got to kind of day in and day out, kind of keep those behaviors consistent over time to really see that benefit, that payoff in the long run.
Kristen Bourque - I love that.
Scott K. Johnson - Yeah, it's your medicine.
Kristen Bourque - Yeah, food is medicine, right? Yeah.
Maggie Evans - I once heard a quote that said, if we could package the benefits of exercise in a pill, it would be worth like a million dollars or something like that. So just something as simple as going for a walk has such great benefits to it even more so than what we actually find in our medications. So just knowing that I think can be really helpful that we have the power to really control our health in our daily habits.
Scott K. Johnson - Yeah, great points, I love that. So for the record, you cannot cure or reverse diabetes. You can find many different ways to manage your blood sugars that are minimally disruptive to your everyday life. And that's not the same as curing diabetes, you are just living well with diabetes. And that's one of my favorite phrases, living well with diabetes. Anything else that we want to touch on, on this topic? I think it's a pretty clear answer.
Maggie Evans - Yeah, got that.
Kristen Bourque - I think just remember you're not alone. I think that this, again, when we talk about this topic, I think it can just be some hard words sometimes to hear when we kind of unveil the truth or that misconception there and clear that up. So again, just relying on your support at home, but also you're getting your diabetes healthcare team too to kind of talk through some of these emotions, maybe you're feeling about it too.
Scott K. Johnson - Yeah, great points. And know that when you see all those tabloids and magazine articles, it's all about selling articles. But they often if you can get past that headline, there's often some very good, helpful information in there that is good to know. So just be aware, be a smart consumer in both your shopping and your healthcare and all that stuff, right?
Kristen Bourque - Yeah, definitely, I agree.
Scott K. Johnson - Great. All right, wonderful session. We will be back again very soon for another session. Thank you. All right, I hope that was helpful. If you have additional questions or want us to dive deeper, go ahead and leave us those questions and we will be happy to follow up on those and address them in our next episode. Carol, I love that you are really seeing the value of walking. Walking is one of the most underestimated things we can do for ourselves. So great to hear that you're seeing so much value there and yes, getting the right shoes and proper fits and support and all that stuff, it can make such a difference in making that a pleasurable experience for you versus something that's painful. So listen, as we approach the end of May, we have one more live episode coming up and that will be on Friday, and then we won't be producing any more new episodes. We've really enjoyed our time together. And for those of you who are using the mySugr bundle, I encourage you to continue asking these great questions to your coach. If you would like to review any of the information in past episodes, we've pulled everything together into one single place for you, and we'll put a link to that page right here. And then come back on Friday where we wrap things up, and Kristen, Maggie and I talk about being afraid of insulin. I know that may sound strange to some of you, but it's a very common thing for many people. So until then, stay well and we'll see you next time.