How to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes: The Quick Start Guide

Type 2 diabetes is a dietary disease, and you can’t cure it with drugs.

By Jason Fung Published on March 27, 2018

Twenty years ago, when you bought a brand new VCR machine, you would also get a thick instruction manual. Read this thoroughly before you start, the manufacturer would advise. There would be detailed setup procedures and troubleshooting guides.

Most of us ignored the manual, plugged in the VCR, and tried to figure out the rest. That’s why our VCRs displayed the blinking 12:00. Today, most new electronics come with a quick start guide with a few basic steps to get your machine working. For anything else you need, you can reference the detailed instruction manual. Instruction manuals are just so much more useful this way.

Well, I don’t know much about VCRs, but I do know about type 2 diabetes. I could write an entire book about obesity (oh, wait, I did that already), or fasting (oh, wait, I did that too) or type 2 diabetes (out next week). But many of you would not want to go through the entire instruction manual. So this is the quick start guide for reversing your type 2 diabetes ((and pre-diabetes).

A Reversible Disease

Most doctors, dietitians and diabetes specialists claim that type 2 diabetes is a chronic and progressive disease. The American Diabetes Association, for example, almost proudly proclaims this on its website. Once you get the diagnosis, you feel it’s a life sentence. That’s a great big lie. Type 2 diabetes is almost always reversible, which is ridiculously easy to prove. This is great news for the more than 50 percent of American adults who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes.

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Most people instinctively recognize that this is true. Suppose your friend is diagnosed as diabetic, then works hard to lose 50 pounds. He takes himself off all his medications and his blood sugars are now normal. What would you say to him? Probably something like, “Great job. You’re really taking care of yourself. Keep it up!” What you wouldn’t say is something like, “You’re such a dirty, filthy liar. My doctor says this is a chronic and progressive disease, so you must be lying to me.” It seems perfectly obvious that diabetes reversed because your friend lost all that weight. And that’s the point. The disease is reversible.

Medications Won’t Help

We’ve known this all along. But only diet and lifestyle changes will reverse it. Not medications. The most important thing, of course, is to lose weight. But diabetes medications don’t help with this. Quite the contrary. Insulin, for example, is notorious for causing weight gain. Patients intuitively sense that they are heading down the wrong path.

They would often say to me, “Doctor, you’ve always said that weight loss is the key to reversing diabetes. Yet you prescribed me a drug that made me gain 25 pounds. How is that good?” I never had a good answer, because none existed. The key to reversing diabetes is weight loss. So if insulin contributes to weight gain, logically it does not reverse the disease, but worsens it.

The most important key to reversing type 2 diabetes is to lose weight. But diabetes medications don’t help with this. Insulin, for example, is notorious for causing weight gain.

Other medications such as metformin or the DPP4 drug class are weight neutral. While these won’t make things worse, they won’t make things better, since, again, weight loss is the key to reversing type 2 diabetes. Medications make blood sugars better, but not the diabetes. That’s the reason most doctors think type 2 diabetes is a chronic and progressive disease. We’ve been using the wrong treatment. We’ve been prescribing drugs for a dietary disease. No wonder it doesn’t work.

So, how can you reverse your diabetes?

The Sugar Bowl

The essential feature of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes is that our bodies are completely filled with sugar. It’s not just that we have too much sugar in the blood. That’s only part of the problem. There’s too much sugar in our entire body. Imagine your body as a bowl. When you’re young, your bowl is empty. Over decades, you eat too much of the wrong things — sugary cereals, desserts and white bread. The bowl gradually fills up with sugar. The next time you eat, sugar comes into the body, but the bowl is full, so it spills out into the blood.

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Insulin is a normal hormone produced when we eat. Its job is to allow glucose into the cells. When it can no longer do that, glucose piles up outside the cell in the blood. This is called insulin resistance.

But why does this happen? The cells are already over-filled with glucose. (See my other pieces — “A New Paradigm,” and “Insulin Resistance is Good?”) Like trying to blow air into an over-inflated balloon, it takes more force to get glucose into the cell. The cell resists the glucose because it’s full. Insulin resistance is an overflow phenomenon.

It’s like packing your clothes into a suitcase. At first, the clothes go in without any trouble. After a certain point, though, it is impossible to jam in those last two t-shirts. You can’t close the suitcase. The luggage is now resistant to the clothes. It’s way harder to pack those last two t-shirts than the first two. It’s the same overflow phenomenon. The cell is filled to bursting with glucose, so trying to force more in is hard and requires much higher doses of insulin.

How Doctors Make It Worse

When the insulin levels can’t keep up with the increasing resistance, blood sugars rise and your doctor diagnoses you with type 2 diabetes and starts you on a pill, such as metformin. But metformin does not get rid of the sugar. Instead, it simply takes the sugar from the blood and rams it back into the liver. The liver doesn’t want it either, so it ships it out to all the other organs — the kidneys, the nerves, the eyes, the heart. Much of this extra sugar will also get turned into fat.

The problem, of course, has not been solved. The sugar bowl is still overflowing. You’ve only moved sugar from the blood (where you could see it) into the body (where you can’t see it). So, the very next time you eat, the same thing happens. Sugar comes in and spills out into the blood. You take metformin to cram the sugar back into the body. This works for a while, but eventually, the body fills up with sugar, too. Now, that same dose of metformin cannot force any more sugar into the body.

Metformin does not get rid of the sugar. Instead, it simply takes the sugar from the blood and rams it back into the liver. The liver doesn’t want it either, so it ships it out to all the other organs — the kidneys, the nerves, the eyes, the heart.

So you go to your doctor. What does he do? Instead of getting rid of the toxic sugar load, he doubles the dose of the medication. The higher dose of medication helps, for a time. Blood sugars go down as you force your body to gag down even more sugar. But eventually, this dose fails as well. So then your doctor gives you a second medication, then a third one and then at some point insulin injections.

Taking More Medication and Getting Worse

Over a period of years, you go from pre-diabetes, to diabetes, to taking one medication, then two then three and then finally large doses of insulin. Here’s the thing. If you are taking more and more medications to keep your blood sugars at the same level, your diabetes is getting worse, even if your blood sugar is get better.

This is unfortunately what happens to almost every patient. The body is already overflowing with sugar. The meds only hide the blood sugar by cramming it into the engorged body. The diabetes looks better, since you can only see the blood sugars. Doctors can congratulate themselves on the illusion of a job well done, even as the patient gets continually sicker. Patients require ever increasing doses of medications and yet still suffer with heart attacks, congestive heart failure, strokes, kidney failure, amputations and blindness. “Oh well,” the doctor tells himself. “It’s a chronic, progressive disease.”

Imagine that you hide your kitchen garbage under the rug instead throwing it outside in the trash. You can’t see it, so you can pretend your house is clean. When there’s no more room underneath the rug, you throw the garbage into your bedroom, and bathroom, too. Anywhere where you don’t have to see it. Eventually, it begins to smell. Really, really bad. You needed to throw out the garbage, not hide it away. If we understand that too much sugar in the blood is toxic, why can’t we understand that too much sugar in the body is toxic, too?

The End Game

What happens over time — 10, 20 years?

Every single part of the body just starts to rot. This is why type 2 diabetes, unlike almost any other disease, affects every part of our body. Every organ suffers the long term effects of the excessive sugar load. Your eyes rot — and you go blind. Your kidneys rot — and you need dialysis. Your heart rots — and you get heart attacks and heart failure. Your brain rots — and you get Alzheimers disease. Your liver rots — and you get fatty liver disease. Your legs rot — and you get diabetic foot ulcers. Your nerves rot — and you get diabetic neuropathy. No part of your body is spared.

We pretend that using medications to lower blood sugar makes people healthier. But it’s a lie. You can’t use drugs to cure a dietary disease.

Medications and insulin do nothing to slow down the progression of this organ damage, because they do not eliminate the toxic sugar load from our body. We’ve known this inconvenient fact since 2008. No fewer than 7 multinational, multi-center, randomized controlled trials of tight blood glucose control with medications (ACCORD, ADVANCE, VADT, ORIGIN, TECOS, ELIXA, SAVOR) failed to demonstrate reductions in heart disease, the major killer of diabetic patients. We pretend that using medications to lower blood sugar makes people healthier. But it’s a lie. You can’t use drugs to cure a dietary disease.

How to Reverse Diabetes

Once we understand type 2 diabetes, the solution becomes pretty obvious. If we have too much sugar in the body, then get rid of it. Don’t simply hide it away so we can’t see it. There are really only two ways to get rid of the excessive sugar in the body.

  1. Don’t put sugar in.
  2. Burn it off.

That’s it. That’s all we need to do. The best part? It’s all natural and completely free. No drugs. No surgery. No cost.

Step 1 – Don’t Put Sugar In

The first step is to eliminate sugar and refined starches from your diet. You don’t need sugar. And starches are simply long chains of sugars. Highly refined starches such as flour or white rice are quickly broken down by digestion into glucose. This is absorbed into the blood and raises blood sugar. For example, eating white bread increases blood sugars very quickly. Doesn’t it seem self-evident that we should avoid foods that raise blood sugars because they will eventually be absorbed into the body? The optimum strategy is to eat little or no refined carbohydrates.

Too much dietary protein is also converted into glucose by the body. Therefore, you should avoid eating too much protein as this, too, will add sugar to the body. Protein shakes, protein bars, and protein powders should all be avoided. Instead, focus on eating lots of vegetables and natural healthy fats.

When you fast, your body burns food energy. … Since type 2 diabetes is merely excessive glucose in the body, burning it off will reverse the disease.

Dietary fat, long shunned for its purported effect of causing heart disease, is back. Natural fats, like those found in avocados, nuts and olive oil are well known to have healthy effects on both heart disease and diabetes. The Mediterranean diet, high in natural fats, is well accepted as healthy. Dietary cholesterol has also been shown to have no harmful effect on the human body. Eggs and butter are back.

Most importantly, stick to eating whole, natural, unprocessed foods.

Step 2 – Burn It Off

Fasting is the simplest and quickest method to force your body to burn sugar for energy. Glucose in the blood is the most easily accessible source of energy for the body. Fasting is merely the flip side of eating — if you are not eating you are fasting. When you eat, your body stores food energy. When you fast, your body burns food energy. If you simply lengthen out your periods of fasting, you can burn off the stored sugar.

Since type 2 diabetes is just excessive glucose in the body, burning it off will reverse the disease. While that may sound severe, fasting has been practiced for at least 2,000 years. It is the oldest dietary therapy known. Millions of people throughout human history have fasted without problems. If you are taking prescription medications, you should seek the advice of a physician. But the bottom line comes to this.

If you don’t eat, will your blood sugars come down? Of course.

If you don’t eat, will you lose weight? Of course.

So, what’s the problem? None that I can see.

We can reverse type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes right now. All without cost, without drugs, without surgery, with an all natural, time-tested, healing method. We only need to have the courage to apply our hard-won knowledge and lead our bodies down the healing pathway.

 

Dr. Fung is a Toronto-based kidney specialist, having graduated from the University of Toronto and finishing his medical specialty at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2001. He is the author of the bestsellers The Obesity Code and The Complete Guide to Fasting. He has pioneered the use of therapeutic fasting for weight loss and type 2 diabetes reversal in his Intensive Dietary Management clinic.

This article originally appeared at idmprogram.com. Reprinted with permission.

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  • Ken Abbott

    While by and large I have no major problems with the content of the article as posted, my baloney detector is firing over a couple of things. To begin with, professional advocacy in diabetes management is an interesting career choice for a trained nephrologist, although admittedly much chronic kidney disease is due to damage done by diabetes. One would usually expect this advice to come from an endocrinologist or diabetologist. Second, contrary to a statement made early on, I know of no medical professional who would deny that proper attention to diet, exercise, and weight loss can effectively negate type II diabetes. The problem often comes with the inability or unwillingness of persons to do what it takes to bring these things under control; in the meantime, you have to do something to control blood sugar levels if for no other reason than to avoid complications such as hypergylcemic coma and the long-term end-organ damage caused by excessive glucose levels (vascular disease, neuropathy, eye disease, not to mention the aforementioned chronic kidney disease). Third, the pathophysiology described in the section titled “The Sugar Bowl” is ludicrously stated. Fourth, the use of the word “rot” in the later paragraphs is inaccurate, misleading, and emotional.

    Take what Dr. Fung has written here with a grain of, er, sugar. Do what you can with smart eating, regular physical exercise, and weight control. Consult your local endocrinologist or diabetologist if you have a problem with glucose metabolism.

    • Craig Roberts

      Good point. It’s a bit arrogant to blame physicians that tell their patients to lose weight that they are “lying” to them about the disease. It is a “chronic and progressive disease” as long as the patient is unable or unwilling to lose weight.

  • suzeebee03

    This is the best & easiest to understand article I’ve read about type 2 diabetes. All along I had been reading that sugar does not cause diabetes which I believed because I ate tons of it all my life & seemed to be fine. Carbs too because I didn’t understand how the body turns carbs into sugar. After I was diagnosed with diabetes 2 at age 69 and going through an education program on how to change this with diet modification and exercise, the condition was subsequently reversed in about a year or so. I no longer had it! My point is, I ate anything & everything with abandon, especially not paying attention to sugar and carbs because I had never had a weight problem. I felt free to indulge. I think the medical community should not neglect to communicate to the public that ingesting tons of sugar into our bodies will most definitely play a part in whether or not we become type 2 diabetic.
    We all don’t have to lose weight, some of us have better Medical opportunities but also, many do not follow the diet changes and doctor’s instructions. After reading your article it’s become clear to me how reckless I was. It took many years to become educated.

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