How To Help Your Diabetes Into Remission

Information gathered from Diabetes UK....

Diabetes remission in people with Type 2 diabetes means that your blood sugar levels are healthy without needing to take any diabetes medication. 

Type 2 diabetes is still a serious condition. It can be lifelong and get worse over time for many, but it doesn’t have to be like this for everyone.

Most people treat their Type 2 diabetes with medication, diet and exercise. But some people are able to stop taking medication and put their diabetes into remission. This can be life-changing.

Our research tells us that diabetes remission is most likely nearer to your diagnosis and strongly linked to weight loss.

Some people call this reversing Type 2 diabetes or even a cure, but we prefer the term remission because your diabetes can come back. And there’s no guarantee you will reach remission – the research so far suggests that it isn’t possible for everyone. But there are so many benefits to losing extra weight, not least reaching remission.

Here we’ll explain what aiming for diabetes remission could mean for you, how we’re leading the way with our ground-breaking research and share stories from more people like Shivali who’ve put their Type 2 diabetes into remission.

What is diabetes remission?

Diabetes remission in people with Type 2 diabetes means that your blood sugar levels are healthy without needing to take any diabetes medication. But what does healthy really mean? We’re working with international experts to agree this, but our researchers used an HbA1c level of 48mmol/mol (6.5%) or less to define remission. We've got more information about HbA1c levels and advice on how to bring them down.

And we don’t say diabetes reversal or cure. We use the term remission because Type 2 diabetes might come back – we don’t know if it’s permanent. 

We also don’t know enough about how being in remission affects your risk of developing serious complications, like heart disease, foot disease or sight loss. So it’s really important that people in remission keep getting regular check-ups, like eye screening.

How can you put diabetes into remission?

Evidence suggests that the key to remission is weight loss. Some people have done this through lifestyle changes and through surgery.

Losing around 15kg within three to five months significantly increases your chances of remission.

If you do want to start losing weight quickly to work towards remission, it's important to talk to a healthcare professional before you begin. This is to make sure it’s safe, especially if you have other health conditions. You might also need to check if you should stop or cut down on any medications.

Losing weight is not safe if you are pregnant, as it could harm you and your unborn baby. Your diabetes team might also advise against losing weight quickly if you are breastfeeding or have ever been diagnosed with an eating disorder.

How can losing weight help put your diabetes into remission?

To understand how losing weight can help someone go into remission, we need to understand why being overweight can lead to Type 2 diabetes. 

If someone’s carrying extra weight around their middle, fat can build up around important organs like the liver and pancreas. This makes it more difficult for those organs to work properly, leading to Type 2 diabetes.

But not everyone who develops Type 2 diabetes is overweight. There are other factors, like age, ethnicity and family history that play a role in our risk of Type 2 too. These factors influence how well the liver and pancreas work, and also where we store our fat.

We can’t change those things, but we can usually change our weight. 

Our scientists believe that just as storing fat around the liver and pancreas affects how Type 2 develops, losing fat affects remission. They want to find out if it can help the liver and pancreas to start working properly again. Get up to date with all our latest remission research.

Weight loss and diabetes remission

It’s important to know that not everyone who loses extra weight will go into remission. If remission hasn’t happened for you yet, remember that losing as little as 5% of your body weight can have huge benefits for your health.

It can mean:

  • fewer medications
  • better blood sugar levels
  • a lower risk of complications.

All of these are important for a long and healthy life.