“Fixing Dad” is an inspiring story of a family who help their father reverse his Type 2 diabetes. Here we will review the process of reversal of diabetes, who can benefit and how they can reverse their diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can be reversed, which means you may not need any treatment including tablets or insulin. Reversal of Type 2 diabetes also means that your blood sugar is with in the range for a person without diabetes.
Most people with Type 2 diabetes are either overweight or obese and weight loss can help reversal of Type 2 diabetes in some individuals. Weight loss helps improvement of blood glucose control. Surgical operations, such as gastric banding, sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass, have been shown to reverse Type 2 diabetes. These surgical procedures are invasive and carry some risk of complications. Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD)have shown to help reversal of Type 2 diabetes, which we will be discussing in this article on ”Fixing Dad: A review”.
Please note Type 1 diabetes cannot be reversed with weight loss. There are however some procedures like islet cell transplant which could reverse Type 1 diabetes.
About “Fixing Dad”
When their father’s diabetes gets worse and threatens his life, brothers Ian and Anthony Whitington set out to change his lifestyle, help reverse his diabetes and improve his quality of life. This is an amazing real life story of how a committed family can help improve the health of their near and dear ones. They worked on their father’s fitness, nutrition and mind.
Why were the brothers successful in “Fixing Dad”?
Here we summarise the whole process the brothers adapted to reverse Type 2 diabetes:
1. Clear goals were set.
2. Continuous support and motivation
3. A clear and disciplined meal and activity plan
4. Instilled strategies for long term weight management
5. Regular blood tests and medical input
6. Medications dose altered with change in life style
7. Intensive support during set backs
In addition to all the above points, they managed to change their father’s mindset.
Several studies in the past have shown that Type 2 diabetes can be reversed by losing weight. Losing weight by reducing calorie intake especially a VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet) has been shown to be effective. However VLCD is unsustainable in the long run.
Currently there is a research in progress in the UK called DiRECT(Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial), where patients are provided around 800 calories a day. The DiRECT study aims to find out if intensive weight loss can bring about the remission of Type 2 diabetes and be maintained long-term.
So, who can have their diabetes reversed?
People with Type 2 diabetes continue to produce insulin but not sufficient enough to overcome insulin resistance. Weight loss, helps to reduce insulin resistance, which is the predominant problem in people with Type 2 diabetes. Weight loss also improves beta cell function by reducing the fat in the liver and pancreas.
As one ages, beta cells also age and do not produce adequate insulin. Duration of diabetes and age determines if some one can have their Type2 diabetes reversed. In people with long standing Type 2 diabetes, beta cell get tired and are not able to produce adequate insulin. In those with very long duration of Type 2 diabetes i.e more than 20 years , their beta cell function may not be effective and weight loss will not reverse their diabetes. Every body is different and hence there are no clinic based test to estimate beta cell reserve.
Weight loss helps reduce insulin resistance. Muscle helps improve insulin sensitivity. However with weight loss, you not only lose fat but also muscle. Whilst trying to lose weight one should also try and increase muscle mass by increasing physical activity.
Finally you need to ensure that the diabetes you or your family have is definitely Type 2 diabetes. Discontinuing medication in some one with Type 1 diabetes can be harmful.
What happens once type 2 diabetes is reversed?
Once diabetes is reversed your doctor may advice you to come off antidiabetic medications including insulin. He/She may base this decision on your HbA1c(Glycosylated haemoglobin). However if you are still in the prediabetes range it be sensible to continue with metformin unless you have hypoglycaemia or low blood glucose readings (less than 4mmol/l).
With weight loss your blood pressure may also reduce and you may have to reduce or stop anti hypertensives. Always discuss with your doctor before making changes to your medications.
“Fixing Dad”: Take home message
The take home message from this fascinating story is:
1. Never give up
2. Family play an important role in chronic disease management
Even if you do not fit the criteria for Type 2 diabetes reversal, please do adopt a healthy life, which will help reduce diabetes related complications and improve your quality of life.
For more information about Type 2 Diabetes and treatment, please visit our programme page here. If you’d like to book a consultation with The London Obesity Clinic, please e-mail email@example.com or call us during working hours.