3 Simple Steps to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes- Step 1

Our bodies produce insulin, a hormone that makes cells receptive to glucose. With the help of insulin, glucose enters cells to be converted to energy. Diabetes is a condition in which high levels of glucose (sugar) stay in the bloodstream for long periods of time instead of being utilized as energy for the body.

High levels of glucose in the bloodstream can lead to kidney failure, eye damage, nerve damage, heart attack, stroke and a host of other complications if left untreated.

There are two reasons for high blood glucose levels. Either the pancreas is not producing enough insulin or cells are resistant to the insulin being produced. When the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, it is referred to as type 1 diabetes. When cells are resistant to insulin, it is referred to as type 2 diabetes.


The good news is that complications from type 1 diabetes can be prevented or greatly reduced and type 2 diabetes can be reversed. To reverse type 2 diabetes means to greatly reduce or eliminate the medication needed to manage the condition. Since type 2 diabetes is a result of insulin resistance, efforts to reverse it should focus on increasing insulin sensitivity.

There are 3 simple steps you can take right now to increase insulin sensitivity and reverse type 2 diabetes.

Step 1: Favor foods with a low glycemic index

Yes, this plan involves being aware of what we eat. But this is not, I repeat,  NOT a diet. There is no need to count calories or restrict the amount of food you eat. As a matter of fact, contrary to most diabetic diets, this step says eat as much pasta and other carbohydrates as you like. Just make sure they meet some basic criteria.

All carbs are not equal, that is to say, they affect your blood glucose levels in different ways. Glycemic Index is a number that ranks carbohydrate in foods based on how they affect blood glucose levels. Some foods digest slowly, others quickly. Carbohydrates that take longer to digest lead to lower glucose levels in the blood. Conversely, carbohydrates that digest quickly lead to  higher blood glucose levels.

A slowly digested carbohydrate is like a pill that releases small amounts of glucose into your blood over an extended period of time. These carbs have a low glycemic index value, which is 55 or less. A “good” carb has a GI value of 55 or less.

Carbs with a high glycemic index value, 70 or more, are quickly digested and cause blood glucose to rise accordingly. White bread, for example, has a GI value of 70 because it is digested quickly and creates a spike in blood glucose levels. A “bad” carb has a GI value of 70 or higher.

Surprisingly, pasta has a low GI value. That seems odd because pasta is a carb and we have been told as diabetics to minimize carbs so as not to demand too much insulin production. So why does white bread spike your blood glucose levels while pasta doesn’t?

When the body digests food, enzymes are employed to break up carbs into glucose molecules to be released into the bloodstream. Yeast causes bread to rise, leaving small pockets of air that allow enzymes to breakdown carbs quickly, increasing glucose levels in the bloodstream at a rapid rate.

Pasta is a carb, but it does not rise like bread, leaving it more compact and difficult to break up into glucose molecules. As a result, pasta is digested slowly and glucose enters your bloodstream at a slower rate.

Remember, digestion is a process of breaking food down into usable nutrients for the body. The more a food is already processed or broken down, the closer it is to being digested. That’s why whole oats have a lower GI value than instant oatmeal. Instant oatmeal has already been cut and processed to cook faster, so it doesn’t take as long to be digested, absorbed and metabolized.

Glycemicindex.com provides a database of foods and their corresponding GI values as well as other helpful resources.

  • 55 or less = Low (good)
  • 56- 69 = Medium
  • 70 or higher = High (bad)

Here’s a look at low glycemic index foods at a glance:

  • Beans, lentils, peas
  • Leafy vegetables
  • Most fruit
  • Pasta
  • Pumpernickel and rye breads
  • Yams and sweet potatoes
  • Oatmeal and bran cereals

This is not the same low carb diet plan. You can eat as many carbs as you want as long as they have a low glycemic index value. This plan is not about food quantity but food quality, exchanging “bad” carbs for “good” ones. This first step combined with steps 2 and 3 can reverse type 2 diabetes and revolutionize your health.

This blog is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician before discontinuing use of medication or changing diet.


D.J. Jenkins et al., “Glycemic Index of Foods: A Physiological Basis for Carbohydrate Exchange,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 34 (1981): 362-6

J.Brand-Miller et al., “Low-Glycemic Index Diets in the Management of Diabetes,” Diabetes Care 26 (2003): 2261-7.


Can Diabetes be Reversed?

I’m not a doctor. I’m just a massage therapist with lots of experience with diabetes. I watched my mother and sister struggle with diabetes for as long as I can remember. My mother taking medication for type 2 diabetes and my younger sister injecting insulin for type 1 diabetes.

My mother and sister took medication and injected insulin for years, and at first it was beneficial. But as the amount of medication increased, so did the complications associated with diabetes. Diabetes can lead to fatigue, eye damage, nerve damage, kidney failure and a host of other symptoms and complications.

No amount of medication stopped my sister’s kidneys from failing. She is currently on the transplant list.

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes (a precursor to diabetes) and placed on medication. After witnessing firsthand that medication alone wouldn’t be enough to avoid future complications from diabetes, I decided to take action. I wouldn’t let diabetes place me on a slow ride to drugs, debilitation and dialysis.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which an individual has high levels of glucose in the blood stream for extended periods of time. Glucose is a simple sugar molecule that powers the body like gasoline powers a car.

Normally, your liver releases glucose into your bloodstream between meals. This spike in blood glucose level signals the pancreas to produce insulin. Glucose, with the help of insulin, enters the cells of the body to be converted to energy.

Cells have membranes that act as protective barriers to keep unwanted objects out, but insulin is a hormone that travels through the bloodstream, making cells receptive to glucose. Insulin attaches to receptors on cell membranes, increasing their permeability, allowing glucose to enter the cell. Inside the cell, glucose is converted to energy that powers movement, thoughts and just about everything else in the body.

However, persistently high levels of glucose in the bloodstream mean that glucose is not entering the cells to be converted to energy and power the body. There are two reasons for high blood glucose levels. Either the pancreas is not producing enough insulin or cells are resistant to the insulin being produced by the body. This is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 vs. Type 2 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that damages the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin. Normally, the immune system defends the body against disease by attacking unhealthy cells.  Autoimmune means that the immune system attacks healthy cells by mistake, physiological “friendly fire.”

Damage to the pancreas leads to low or no insulin production in the body. Without insulin, glucose cannot enter various cells in the body to be converted to energy.

A type 1 diabetic person is considered “insulin dependent,” because they require insulin by way of oral medication or injection.

Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is not due to low insulin production, but rather to high insulin resistance. Normally, insulin interacts with the cell membrane and changes its permeability.

With type 2 diabetes, the pancreas produces enough insulin but the cells of the body resist it. Glucose remains in the bloodstream instead of being converted to energy inside the cell.

A type 2 diabetic is considered “insulin resistant,” and are prescribed medication designed to increase insulin sensitivity and reduce the amount of glucose released by the liver.

So now we know, in simple terms, what diabetes is and how it works, but why does diabetes occur in the first place? As with many pathologies, it’s a combination of genetics, environment and lifestyle. For this discussion, we will focus on type 2 diabetes.

What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?

Remember, type 2 diabetes is due to high insulin resistance in the cells of the body. So the real question is: what causes cells to resist insulin?

Let’s use a metaphor to understand what’s happening. Let’s say that glucose (sugar) is a traveler looking for lodging. Insulin is the key that opens the locked door to the house. The house in this scenario is the cell and the locked door is the cell membrane, the protective barrier that keeps unwanted visitors out.

Normally, insulin, the key, is able to increase permeability or “open” the cell membrane, the door, allowing glucose to enter the cell to be converted to energy. But with type 2 diabetes, it’s like the lock to the door is jammed with gum, making it difficult to open even when the key is used. Metaphorically speaking, gum is fat inside the cells, resisting insulin’s ability to change the permeability of the cell and allow glucose to enter.

To be clear, intracellular lipids, the fat inside cells, is not the same as the fat around the waistline. It is very possible for someone to be thin and relatively healthy and still have high levels of intracellular fat. So this is not about reducing calories and losing weight, even though weight loss is a byproduct of reducing intracellular fat.

The question you should be asking yourself now is: Can I reduce the levels of fat inside the cells that cause them to resist insulin? How can I get the gum out of the lock?

Can Type 2 Diabetes be Reversed?

The most important thing to know about diabetes, at least type 2 diabetes, is this: it is NOT an irreversible condition. Type 2 diabetes can be reversed.  To reverse diabetes means to eliminate or greatly reduce the need for medication. This is done gradually over time and under the supervision of your doctor. Please work with your doctor to decide if or when it is appropriate for you to reduce your medication.

Type 2 diabetes can be reversed and the complications from type 1 diabetes can be greatly reduced or avoided all together. The next couple of blog posts in this series will discuss “3 Simple Steps to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes” and “Eliminating Type 1 Diabetes Complications.”