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How To Reverse Type 2 Diabetes And Insulin Resistance In 5 Simple Steps

Feb 8, 2008
How to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes and Insulin Resistance in 5 Simple Steps

In my last article about diabetes, I explained which tests you need to determine whether you've got diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Now I'm going to share with you my top advice for preventing -- and reversing -- these conditions.

Eating Well

The foods you eat can have huge effects on your health. Eating the right foods will balance your blood sugar, reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, and improve liver detoxification -- all of which help prevent and reverse insulin resistance and diabetes.

In general, you should follow a whole-foods diet that contains plenty of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and detoxifying foods.

Here are more details.

When to Eat:

*Eat protein for breakfast every day
*Eat something every 4 hours to balance blood sugar
*Eat small protein snacks in the morning and afternoon
*Finish eating at least 2 to 3 hours before bed

How to Eat:

*Control the glycemic load of your meals by combining protein, fats, and whole-food carbohydrates at every meal or snack

What to Eat:

*Organic produce and animal products

*High-quality protein, such as fish and shellfish

*Cold-water fish such as salmon, halibut, and sable, which contain omega-3 oils that reduce inflammation

*Up to eight omega-3 eggs a week

*Low-glycemic legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, and soybeans

*Fresh fruits (berries, cherries, peaches, plums, rhubarb, pears, and apples are optimal) and vegetables (including low-glycemic vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts)

*Detoxifying foods such as cruciferous vegetables, green tea, watercress, dandelion greens, cilantro, artichokes, garlic, citrus peels, pomegranate, and even cocoa

*Herbs such as rosemary, ginger, and turmeric

*Garlic and onions

*30 to 50 grams of fiber a day, especially soluble or viscous fiber (legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, vegetables, and fruit)

*Extra-virgin olive oil

*Soy products such as soymilk, soybeans, and tofu

*Nuts and seeds, including raw walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, and pumpkin and flax seeds

*Chocolate that contains 70 percent cocoa (up to 2 to 3 ounces a day)

What Not to Eat:

*All processed or junk foods

*Foods containing refined white flour and sugar, such as breads, cereals (cornflakes, Frosted Flakes, puffed wheat, and sweetened granola), flour-based pastas, bagels, and pastries

*All foods containing high-fructose corn syrup

*All artificial sweeteners and caffeine

*Starchy, high-glycemic cooked vegetables, such as potatoes, corn, and root vegetables such as rutabagas, parsnips, and turnips

*Processed fruit juices

*Processed canned vegetables

*Foods containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils

*Processed oils such as corn, safflower, sunflower, peanut, and canola

*Red meats (unless organic or grass-fed) and organ meats

*Large predatory fish and river fish, which contain mercury and other contaminants in unacceptable amounts


*No more than 3 glasses of red wine per week

Keep Moving

By targeting belly fat, regular exercise can improve insulin sensitivity, prevent and even reverse diabetes, and reduce the risk of complications.

Start with 30 minutes of walking every day. You may need to do sustained aerobic exercise for up to an hour 5 to 6 times a week to control full-blown diabetes. Add interval training (described in UltraMetabolism) and strength training to improve metabolism even more.


I recommend a number of different supplements for insulin resistance and diabetes, depending on the severity of the problem:

1.A multivitamin and mineral.
2.Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D.
3.Fish oil (1,000 to 4,000 mg)
4.Chromium (500 to 1,000 mcg day)
5.Antioxidants (such as vitamins C and E)
6.Extra vitamin B6 (50 to 150 mg a day) and B12 (1,000 to 3,000 mcg) to protect against diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage.
7.Biotin (2,000 to 4,000 mcg a day)
8.Alpha-lipoic acid (300 mg twice a day)
9.Evening primrose oil (500 to 1,000 mg twice a day)
10.One to two 500 mg tablets of cinnamon twice a day
11.Other herbs and supplements that can be helpful include green tea, ginseng, bitter melon, gymnema, bilberry, ginkgo, onions, and garlic
12.Banaba leaf (Lagerstroemia speciosa); 24 mg twice a day
13.Konjac fiber, four capsules 10 minutes before meals with a glass of water

Stress Management

Stress triggers insulin resistance, promotes belly fat, increases inflammation, and can cause diabetes. Practice relaxation techniques, like yoga, breathing, and meditation, regularly.


A number of medications may be helpful for diabetes. The main classes include:

*Biguanides, especially metformin (Glucophage). They can help improve insulin sensitivity.

*Thiazolidinediones, including rosiglutazone (Avandia) and pioglitazone (Actos). They can help increase insulin sensitivity but can cause weight gain and liver damage.

*Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, which include acarbose and miglitol, can help lower the absorption of sugar and carbohydrates in the intestines.

Older medications include sulfonylureas include glipizide, glyburide, and glimepiride. I don't recommend them: They only reduce your sugar temporarily and actually worsen diabetes over time. Plus, they increase the risk of heart attacks.

Insulin is your last resort and can cause weight gain and increased cholesterol and blood pressure. Many patients can get off insulin entirely if they are treated early and aggressively with lifestyle changes.

Remember, diabetes is completely preventable and often reversible.

And you don't need to limit your efforts to medication or insulin. Start making the lifestyle changes I've described here, and you should see quick and dramatic results.
About the Author
Mark Hyman, MD is a pioneer in functional medicine, practicing physician and best-selling author. A sneak preview of his book "The UltraSimple Diet" is available. See The UltraWellness Blog for more on Testing for Insulin Resistance
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