5 Healthy Steps to Reverse Type 2 Diabetes and Insulin Resistance

Mark Hyman, M.D. by Mark Hyman, M.D. | October 30th, 2009 | 9 Comments
topic: Health & Wellness, Healthy Eating

diabetesfeatureBreaking news! Some newly discovered compounds have just been found to turn off all of the genes that cause diabetes. Are these compounds found in a pill bottle? No!

Diabetes and insulin resistance are completely preventable and often reversible through aggressive lifestyle changes, including diet, supplements, exercise and stress management.

In my last blog, I explained how to find out if you are pre-diabetic or diabetic. Half of the 24 million people with diabetes don’t know they have it, and nearly all the 60 million people with pre-diabetes don’t know they have it.

Today, I want to share with you more information about what you can do NOW to prevent and reverse diabetes and pre-diabetes.

1. Change your diet

Eating in a way that balances your blood sugar, reduces inflammation and oxidative stress, and improves your liver detoxification is the key to preventing and reversing insulin resistance and diabetes.

This is a way of eating that’s based on a whole foods diet that’s high in fiber, rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, and low in sugars and flours, with a low glycemic load.

It is a way of eating that includes anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and detoxifying foods. It includes plenty of omega-3 fats and olive oil, soy products, beans, nuts and seeds.

All these foods help prevent and reverse diabetes and insulin resistance. This is the way of eating that turns on all the right gene messages, promotes a healthy metabolism, and prevents aging and age-related diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

For more specific dietary recommendations to reverse diabetes, click here.

2. Exercise

Exercise is critical for the improvement of insulin sensitivity. It helps reduce central body fat, improving sugar metabolism. Regular exercise will help prevent diabetes, reduce your risk of complications, and even help reverse it.

Ideally you should do 30 minutes of walking every day. Walking after dinner is a powerful way to reduce your blood sugar.

More vigorous exercise and sustained exercise is often needed to reverse severe insulin resistance or diabetes. Doing sustained aerobic exercise for up to 60 minutes five to six times a week is often necessary to get diabetes under full control.

Interval training can be an added benefit to helping improve your metabolism and mitochondrial function. It helps to increase the efficiency calorie burning so that you burn more calories and energy during the time you are NOT exercising. This is described in detail in UltraMetabolism.

Strength training also helps maintain and build muscle, which can help also with your overall blood sugar and energy metabolism.

3. Take supplements

Nutritional supplements can be very effective for type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. I recommend a number of different supplements, depending on the severity of the problem:

1. A multivitamin and mineral
2. Calcium and magnesium and vitamin D
3. Fish oil (1,000 to 4,000 mg a day) improves insulin sensitivity, lowers cholesterol and reduces inflammation.
4. Extra magnesium (200 to 600 mg a day) helps with glucose metabolism and is often deficient in diabetics.
5. Chromium (500 to 1,000 mcg a day) is very important for proper sugar metabolism.
6. Antioxidants (such as vitamins C and E) are important in helping to reduce and balance blood sugar.
7. B-complex vitamins are important and are part of a good multivitamin. Extra vitamin B6 (50 to 150 mg a day) and B12 (1,000 to 3,000 mcg) are especially helpful in protecting against diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage.

For more supplements that help prevent and reverse diabetes, click here.

4. Manage stress

Stress plays a dramatic role in blood sugar imbalances. It triggers insulin resistance, promotes weight gain around the middle, increases inflammation, and ultimately can cause diabetes. So it’s essential to engage in relaxation practices on a regular basis, such as yoga, breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, hot baths, exercise, meditation, massage, biofeedback, hypnosis or even making love. Your survival depends on it.

5. Use medications if necessary

A number of medications may be helpful for diabetes. There are several specific classes of medications, each with their own effects. Sometimes combinations are helpful.

These are the main classes:

1. The biguanides, especially metformin (Glucophage), is one of the best medications to improve insulin sensitivity. It can help lower blood sugars by improving your cells’ response to insulin.
2. Thiazolidinedione drugs are a new class of diabetes medication and can help improve uptake of glucose by the cells by making you more insulin-sensitive. They also reduce inflammation and help improve metabolism working on the PPAR, a special class of cell receptors that control metabolism. They can cause weight gain and liver damage. Thiazolidinediones include rosiglutazone (Avandia) and pioglitazone (Actos).
3. Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors include acarbose and miglitol, which can help lower the absorption of sugar and carbohydrates in the intestines, reducing the absorption of sugar after meals. And there are newer medications on the market every day.

Insulin is the last resort after all other measures have failed and often leads to a slippery slope of weight gain and increased cholesterol and blood pressure. Many patients have been able to come off insulin entirely if they are treated early and aggressively through the other methods I’ve listed.

If you follow these guidelines, you will see a dramatic change very quickly in your health, your weight and your diabetes.

Just try it!

To your good health,
Mark Hyman, M.D.

To view the original article, click here.


  1. [...] It also improves immune function, strengthens your cardiovascular systems, corrects and prevents insulin resistance, and is key for improving your mood and erasing the effects of stress. In fact, regular exercise is [...]

  2. [...] improvements to chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and type 2 diabetes, then stretch for 20-60 minutes every day! Follow up your stretching with a light, easy-going [...]

  3. Checking your blood glucose levels usually through out the day will assist you to figure out how to maintain very good manage. Incredibly first thing within the morning ahead of breakfast, two hours correct following a meal and prior to bed are great occasions to check. Other suggested occasions consist of before, during and soon after an exercise session, particularly if it’s strenuous or if you’re feeling like your blood sugar may possibly be low or higher.

    childhooddiabetessymptoms | July 25th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  4. I often recommend meditation and/or guided imagery to people with stress related illnesses, but I must admit that I’ve not considered the impact of stress as it pertains to diabetes before. Thanks for the valuable insight.

    Christopher | October 5th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  5. Great post. thank for this share. I like this and agree with you

    James | October 27th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  6. What if we took on an old fashioned Mediterranean type of diet. Low in Grains, high in veggies and meat. mmmmm…. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. Good article, thanks for posting helpful tips :)

    Gil | November 23rd, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  7. Fantastic advice. I have been able to reduce my insulin medication from x4 to x1 injection per day. My aim now is to come off it completely.

    DeAnna | April 3rd, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  8. Living in Illinois, I found this site by clicking on a link from Twitter. Happy I did. Great topic, and great page. Keep up the Wonderful Work.

    Vickie | December 27th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  9. Hi,
    I’ve been doing a lot of research since recently being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I’ve been battling high cholesterol for quite some time and have also been told I now have high blood pressure. I just purchased (and cannot wait to get) your books, The Blood Sugar Solution and The UltraSimple Diet. While reading a blog you wrote, it mentions that we should eat certain foods to reverse diabetes and get healthy but some of the foods mentioned, I was told not to eat such as eggs because of the high cholesterol. It also mentioned other foods that I’ve been told can be bad for the cholesterol and blood pressure. Will it be safe for me to follow the advice in the 2 above mentioned books due to all of the health problems I described?

    Deb | July 1st, 2013 | Comment Permalink

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