How to Help Your Body Reverse Diabetes

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Over 37 million Americans have diabetes and another 96 million are prediabetic. According to the medical community, we’ve reached epidemic proportions. Thankfully there are steps we can take to help reverse diabetes for a stronger, healthier body.

Conquering diabetes is more than just trying to avoid insulin injections though. This disease causes a lot of different health problems. But first, what exactly is diabetes?

What is Diabetes?

Medical experts define diabetes as having fasting blood glucose levels of 126 mg/dL or higher. Ranges between 100-125 mg/dL are pre-diabetic, while 99 mg/dL or lower is normal. Fasting blood glucose levels above 95 triple the risk of developing diabetes compared to levels under 90.

Fasting blood glucose below 83 mg/dL may be a better benchmark. Men’s heart disease risk increases at 85 mg/dL compared to those with 81 mg/dL or lower.

Type 1 vs. Type 2 Diabetes

When we talk about reversing diabetes it’s important to know there are two different kinds.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition. Type 2 diabetes is diet and lifestyle-related. This article refers to the medical condition Type 2 diabetes. The good news is we can reverse type 2 diabetes. With lifestyle changes, like healthy eating and physical activity, diabetes remission is possible. Healthy eating means choosing a lower carbohydrate diet and avoiding sugar. These sugary foods raise blood sugar levels and wreak havoc on the body.

How to Test for Diabetes

Some medical professionals use an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) to determine diabetes. If you’ve been pregnant, you may have drank a sugary cocktail before having your blood drawn. If so, you’re familiar with this one.

For an OGTT, a patient gets 50-75 grams of glucose. Then a medical professional measures their blood sugar response. No one should be drinking that much glucose! The test isn’t accurate, either.

And if you’re a fan of big gulp drinks and lots of soda, you’re testing your body in a similar way. Eventually, your body will give in. It will respond with something like, “Fine, if you want diabetes, I’ll show you diabetes!

All that sugar increases the risk of all kinds of health problems. These include vision problems, kidney disease, nerve damage, cancer, stroke, and cardiovascular disease. These can occur even without an official diabetes diagnosis.

Diabetes Symptoms

Some common diabetes symptoms of both types, according to the Mayo Clinic include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Ketones in the urine
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Frequent infections

Doctors used to call type 2 diabetes adult-onset diabetes, but children now get it too. The pancreas makes enough insulin, but the body starts ignoring it. When that happens, you have insulin resistance. This looks like increased blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and waist size.

Prevalence of Diabetes in America

The American Diabetes Association reports that as of 2019:

  • 37.3 million Americans have diabetes (and 8.5 million didn’t even know they had it)
  • Nearly 1.9 million Americans have type 1 diabetes, and 244,000 are children and adolescents.
  • It’s estimated about 35% of Americans under 20 have diabetes.
  • 96 million Americans age 18 and up are pre-diabetic.
  • 1.4 million new cases of diabetes occur each year.
  • Nearly 30% of people older than 65 have diabetes
  • Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death and costs $327 billion a year.

Diabetes is a big problem, but what causes it? Some say it’s genetic, while others claim a lifestyle or dietary cause… What is it? Let’s go back to biology.

Biology 101: Sugar, Carbs, Insulin, and Fat

Our body breaks down and metabolizes any food we eat into the different building blocks it needs. What it doesn’t process the liver removes.

We need protein and fats for muscle and tissue regeneration and other bodily processes. We typically use carbohydrates as a fast energy source, but when we eat more than we need, our body stores it as fat. So that whole wheat muffin can be just as bad as eating a donut with sprinkles!

I explain the process more in this post. While it may seem simple, there are a few confounding factors.

Grains, Sugars, and Omega-6 Oils

These three are the axis of evil in the nutrition world. They’re all new to the human diet, especially in the most common forms. These include processed flour, table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and vegetable oils.

Grains (especially the highly processed form) not only raise insulin levels but can damage the gut lining. This can happen even without celiac disease. Even whole grains also cause inflammation and can create an immune response.

Healthy and Unhealthy Sugar

Sugar raises insulin and over time this damages beta cells in the pancreas. This leads to insulin resistance, a precursor for diabetes. Fructose is the top offender in the sugar world. It goes directly to the liver and might be a big factor in fatty liver disease.

Excess sugar in the bloodstream also increases cortisol and adrenaline release. It slows the immune response, decreases necessary leptin levels, and promotes fat storage. While we should limit all sweeteners, some are worse than others:

  • Glucose – Found in almost all carbohydrates, glucose is a precursor to glycogen. We need glycogen for energy so it’s ok in moderation.
  • Fructose – A toxic substance with no health benefits. If you decide to eat it, get it from whole fruits, not High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).
  • Sucrose – AKA table sugar. It has a 1:1 ratio of glucose to fructose and creates an insulin response. Limit or avoid it.
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) – This is super concentrated (and dangerous) fructose. Be strict about avoiding this substance.
  • Honey, Maple Syrup, Agave, Molasses – These natural sweeteners still contain high levels of fructose. Healthy people with good insulin sensitivity can eat these in moderation.
  • Fruit sugar – Fruit contains lots of natural sugar. While most fruits are okay in moderation, avoid their juices. These are concentrated sugar sources that raise blood glucose and insulin. The best fruit sources are low sugar and high antioxidant, like berries.

Vegetable Oils

Omega 6 oils are a relatively new addition to the diet, making their appearance in the early 1900s. Oils in this category include vegetable oils, which aren’t from vegetables at all. These include canola, cottonseed, soybean, corn, safflower, sunflower, and more.

Since the 1950s vegetable oil intake has increased thanks to health “experts.” Research now shows they increase obesity risk and harm the thyroid. They contribute to insulin resistance and inflammation, further aggravating the poor pancreas.

Ideally, we should consume omega-6 fats in a 1:1 ratio with Omega-3 fats. Most Americans consume a ratio closer to 20 or 25:1, increasing their risk of diabetes and obesity.

Stress, Toxins, and the Adrenals

The body functions as a sum of many parts. So, it’s logical that when one hormone or part of the endocrine system is suffering, the other would suffer. This is why recent research links high stress to diabetes and other health problems. Most people think of stress only in the mental context. But stress can be physical, psychological, emotional, or mental. Many things can trigger it, including:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Poor diet
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Infection
  • Disease
  • Overexercising
  • Outside stress

Cortisol and Hormones

When we’re stressed the adrenals release cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones are life-saving in true “fight or flight” situations, like running away from a bear. But too many of these hormones can cause problems.

Excess cortisol contributes to hormone imbalance. That’s because the body uses other hormones like progesterone to manufacture it. Too much cortisol can also interfere with other metabolic processes. It can mess with blood sugar, reduce fat-burning, and raise insulin. It can also suppress the thyroid, and contribute to belly fat.

Sleep deprivation can elevate cortisol, decrease insulin sensitivity, and increase blood sugar. Most moms have felt the hangover-like effects of this during the first weeks of caring for a newborn.

Genetic Factors

Genetics do play a role in any disease, but I put this factor last for a reason. Genetic risk factors for a disease will increase your chances of getting the disease. But not in a vacuum.

Some with a family history of heart disease remain heart-attack free. Studies of identical twins show that twins often get the same diseases. 

We now know that environmental factors or a potent toxin can alter genes in a single generation. Factors like toxins, stress, pesticides, and diet can turn certain genes on or off, leading to disease. While our genes can increase disease odds, it won’t necessarily happen without other factors. 

If you know you have a genetic predisposition to a condition, take steps to maintain your health. At the same time, work to prevent illness.

Those with a genetic predisposition to liver or autoimmune disease often get diabetes. This is likely because the pancreas and liver handle proper insulin regulation. So, problems here could affect the body’s normal response. Studies have linked autoimmune disease and leaky gut with higher instances of diabetes.

How Do We Fix It?

None of the above contributing factors usually happen by themselves. Since the body functions as a whole, a problem in one area will usually correlate to problems in others. A combination of the factors above can trigger a full-blown case of diabetes. It can also lead to many other diseases.

Researchers often look at a single variable when searching for a cure for a disease. But the best approach is to address the body as a whole. The best remedy is prevention but some measures can help reverse disease once it’s happened.

Freshly diagnosed diabetics usually start working with a dietitian or nutritionist. Diabetes care usually involves avoiding sugar (a good step, not the solution). They may need drugs like Metformin or insulin.

These are a band-aid solution though and can cause side effects. The problem is that diabetes is a problem with insulin regulation. The body becomes resistant to insulin hormone and then the pancreas overproduces it.

The goal is to remove toxic amounts of glucose from the bloodstream. Insulin is also dangerous if left circulating in the blood. Treating excess circulating glucose and insulin by adding more insulin doesn’t make sense.

We have to fix the actual problem causing diabetes, like diet, toxins, stress, and gut problems. Just managing blood sugar levels can lead to insulin-dependent diabetes and pancreas shut down.

Ditch the Typical Diet

Mainstream US health experts often follow the current USDA My Plate guidelines. This recommends 6-9 ounces of grains a day for fiber. For perspective that’s 9 slices of bread or 4 plus cups of rice. While this is poor medical advice for anyone, it’s fuel on the fire for those with insulin issues.

All those grains and carbs increase body weight and fat.

7 Steps to Help Your Body Recover from Diabetes

The good news (about time!) is that most people with Type 2 diabetes can reverse it or dramatically improve it with the right steps.

1. Control Insulin

Insulin resistance triggers diabetes. Regaining proper insulin sensitivity can help reverse the process. Limit sugar, grains, and processed carbs. Instead focus on healthy proteins, fats, and green veggies.

2. Balance Fats

Too many omega-6 fats in the diet contribute to diabetes. A 1:1 ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats is best. Avoid Omega-6 rich seed and vegetable oils (almost every restaurant uses these). Fatty fish like salmon and sardines are good Omega 3 sources.

3. Fix your Gut

No, I’m not talking about the beer gut. Grains and toxins cause damage to the intestinal lining and can cause leaky gut. Not enough good bacteria in our gut makes the problem worse. Poor diet, antibiotics, and being bottle-fed as a baby all deplete the microbiome.

Remove grains, avoid toxins and take probiotics to help heal. Grains, especially gluten, can harm gut health for some people. Even if it’s eaten occasionally.

4. Exercise

Even mainstream medicine recognizes the advantages of exercise for diabetes. It increases the muscles’ ability to use insulin. Over time, it can help fix insulin resistance.

All exercise isn’t created equal, though. Daily high-intensity exercise improves insulin balance better than an hour of moderate cardio. It also works better for weight loss. I recommend high-intensity exercise anyway for its various health advantages.

5. Lose Excess Weight

Obesity and Diabetes often go hand in hand. There’s still a debate on which one causes the other. But studies show that lowering your BMI can help mitigate diabetes. It also lowers your risk of getting it in the first place. Certain dietary and lifestyle improvements can help you lose weight and are beneficial for diabetes reversal as well.

6. Reduce Stress

Stress raises cortisol, potentially leading to hormone imbalance and insulin issues. It also increases your risk for certain types of diseases.

To lower your stress, get plenty of sleep, avoid toxins, and improve your diet. Getting quality sleep every night can help reduce stress hormone levels and is excellent for blood sugar. Also, do what you can to address mental and emotional sources of stress. I’ve found tapping very helpful.

7. Supplement

Supplements can help you heal from diabetes. They’re especially helpful while your body normalizes its insulin responses. Consider cinnamon, omega-3s, alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, and garlic. Magnesium and chromium are also helpful.

Monitoring the Problem As It Improves

Anyone with diabetes should consult their primary care provider before making any changes. Especially before changing diabetes medication. That said, focusing on healthy foods is always a good idea.

Nearly 74% of Americans are overweight and many are in a pre-diabetic state. Even if you don’t have symptoms, a glucose monitor can show you your insulin levels.

I also monitored my glucose when pregnant instead of doing the glucose test. Testing at home will tell you how your body responds to certain foods and what works best for you.

What You Need

A Levels glucose monitor is my preferred way to check my sugar levels as it is easy and pain-free. You can also track your numbers as often as you like. The company sends a tracker that you attach to your arm and it gets replaced every 14 days. But finger pricks also work!

If you want to manually check, most drugstores sell glucometer and test strip kits. Be sure to check the cost of replacement strips though. Those can get pricey!

Testing Blood Sugar Levels

Take blood sugar readings at the following times each day for a week:

  • First thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything
  • Before your normal lunch
  • One hour after lunch
  • Two hours after lunch
  • Three hours after lunch

Do not eat or drink anything else during the three hours of testing.

You may get an accurate baseline of your insulin response after only a few days. But a week provides more data. If you’re diabetic, you likely have some ideas about these numbers. Take readings at the suggested times anyway to figure out your baseline.

Keep a Food Log

Write down everything you eat and drink and track the times you test your blood sugar. This shows how you react to specific foods. Don’t make a special effort to diet or eat healthy foods during this time as you’ll want to know your normal reactions.

Carbohydrate Spike Test

Choose a day of your blood sugar readings to eat a food high in simple carbs. It should be after at least 2-3 days of testing.

For your test meal, eat potato, rice, etc. You can also include any vegetables, but don’t add any fats or proteins. This will test your basic reaction to high levels of glucose not mitigated by fat. Record these numbers as usual.

Important note: If you usually eat a low-carb diet, this number might seem higher than it should be. This is because of a decreased carbohydrate tolerance and is not a cause for concern.

Determine Results

Based on your food log and glucose results, note which foods cause higher readings. Use a website like fitday to input your food log. That will help you get an accurate analysis of your total carb, protein, and fat consumption. Then you’ll see which days were the best and worst for your blood glucose.

How Should Your Numbers Look?

You want your numbers to be as follows:

  • Fasting blood glucose below 83 mg/dL
  • A pre-meal reading below 90 mg/dL or your fasting level
  • 1 hour reading under 140 mg/dL
  • 2 hour reading under 120 mg/dL (preferably under 100)
  • 3-hour reading back to pre-meal level
  • No readings above 140 mg/dL

If your numbers are higher, your body isn’t processing glucose well. You likely have some level of insulin resistance. Limit carbs and processed foods and opt for more good fats and proteins.

Start the “Seven Steps” above then take a look at your readings. If they’re in the diabetic or high prediabetic range, consider consulting a specialist.

Even if you don’t have glucose issues, occasional blood sugar testing is a good idea. It can help pinpoint which carbs your body does and doesn’t like. And it’s a more accurate alternative to the pregnancy glucose test. You may have to explain your reasons to your doctor though!

Final Thoughts on Reversing Diabetes

Diabetes research is constantly evolving. I compiled the best of my research above, but do your own, too! At the very least, please consider making some positive changes. A good diet and lifestyle go a long way to help fight and prevent disease.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Michelle Sands, ND. She is double board certified in Integrative Medicine and Naturopathic Medicine and is also a Board-Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and competitive endurance athlete.  As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

Do you struggle with diabetes? Have you overcome it?


  1. American Diabetes Association. (2010). Diagnosis and classification of diabetes mellitus. Diabetes care, 33 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), S62–S69.
  2. American Diabetes Association. (2022, July 28). Statistics About Diabetes: Overall Numbers.
  3. Centers for Disease Control. (2022, September 6). Obesity and Overweight.
  4. Eyth, E., Basit, H., & Smith, C. J. (2022). Glucose Tolerance Test. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing.
  5. Kim, M. B., Zhang, Y., Chang, Y., et al. (2017). Diabetes mellitus and the incidence of hearing loss: a cohort study. International journal of epidemiology, 46(2), 717–726.
  6. Mayo Clinic. (2022, August 9). Diabetes – Symptoms and causes.
  7. Nichols, G. A., Hillier, T. A., & Brown, J. B. (2008). Normal fasting plasma glucose and risk of type 2 diabetes diagnosis. The American journal of medicine, 121(6), 519–524.
  8. Tirosh, A., Shai, I., Tekes-Manova, D., et al. (2005). Normal fasting plasma glucose levels and type 2 diabetes in young men. The New England journal of medicine, 353(14), 1454–1462.
  9. USDA My Plate. (n.d.) Grains.
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


95 responses to “How to Help Your Body Reverse Diabetes”

  1. lawrence Avatar

    I really appreciates all the recommendations and critics. It has revives hope into my life.

  2. Sarah Avatar

    These are very informative! Thanks for sharing such amazing information!

  3. Lowell Avatar

    Need to know what to eat and how to eat doctor say my numbers are high so no medication but give me time to lose the weight Nell me

  4. Angel Avatar

    I have totally reversed diabetes the natural way. It wasn’t overnight, it took some time. But I saw people die from diabetes and I did not want to end up like them. I saw a naturopath who literally changed my life and showed me what foods make me strong and which ones don’t. I stopped starving myself, ate every 3-4 hours. Ditched ANY food that had GMO’s in it and high-fructose corn syrup. Drank water, 1/2 my body weight each day. Ditched eating pizza. Gave up pasta. Only eat out once a week, if that. Dropped nearly 50 pounds total. Cooked my own food. Ate a lot of artichokes that are steamed. Ate grass fed butter, and used a little whole milk in my eggs and yes, ate eggs with the yolk. Ditched bread in lieu of finding Ezekiel bread which has been shown to help regulate blood sugar. Embraced quinoa. Measured everything. A 1/2 cup is pretty small when you’re used to heaping portions on your plate. Stopped bingeing on food when upset, that was a major feat and realized I had a sugar addiction. I started at 6.0 in my A1C test, now I am down to 5.5- my doctor couldn’t be more proud…anyone can do this, but it takes a LOT of work & consistency.

  5. Christin T Avatar
    Christin T

    Do you have any advice for lowering your fasting blood glucose? All of my daytime readings are within your limits, but no matter what I do my fasting is consistently at 110. I have read about the dawn phenomenon. I swear each night I have a very vivid dream of eating ice cream/ candy/ cake etc, and I think that’s when my body is dumping the glucose in my bloodstream. I would love to hear any suggestions you might have. Thank you

  6. Hannah Avatar

    I follow a pretty low carb diet with high protein and healthy fat. And get moderate exercise. I am 36 weeks pregnant and my fasting results are suddenly 90-100 and my readings throughout the day are rarely over 100. I don’t understand?? Why are my fasting readings so high but during the day I seem to be processing the carbs just fine? I’m doing all I can to avoid being on insulin the last few weeks of my pregnancy.
    I am only 27 and by no means over weight. I have only gained 20lb this pregnancy. But I’m obviously missing something?

  7. Lindsay wilkinson Avatar
    Lindsay wilkinson

    I have gestational diabetes, I was diagnosed around 6 weeks ago. I have completely changed my diet, limited carbs, more protein, smaller fruit portions, very little if any added sugars, portion control. My readings this last week or so have been Gradually getting lower, in fact too low at times. I’ve eaten a few naughty things to see what effect it had and it was almost none. I have really behaved myself diet wise, I am hoping I may have reversed the diabetes, will find out next week when I see my consultant again.


  8. Shweta Jain Avatar
    Shweta Jain

    THANK U Very Much for sharing this..

    Can we consume peanut oil for better regarding diabities ?

  9. Sarah Carter Avatar
    Sarah Carter

    This post has probably been up for a while so I apologize and I apologize for the long post but I really need help here. I was recently at my OBGYN and I asked her to test me for hormonal imbalance due to the changes I’ve been seeing: increasing hair growth, feeling hot/cold flashes, etc I thought it may be PCOS. It was determined my hormones are fine but now I have an insulin resistance. The OBGYN promptly told me to start on a Metformin taper which starts at 500mg tablets (that’s a lot at once) and South Beach Diet or Atkins diet. Both diets make me cringe, the South Beach Diet lists artificial sweeteners/aspartame as sugar replacements, the presence of low fat milk, cream, cheese etc makes me wonder if they realize that’s worse for you, the use of meat that are supposedly less fatty so basically ham and chicken, lower fat steak, it encourages use of Omega-6 oils aka vegetable oils. I took Metformin for a short time in the past to combat another medication that caused weight gain (I am 100 or so pounds overweight and have gained a lot of it from bad eating, mental illness and pharmaceutical drugs). Metformin is horrible it gives you the worst GI problems and makes you feel so crappy and combined with one or two days of phase 1 of South Beach (the most restrictive low carb stage) I feel so sick and something is wrong. I feel like I’m shaking on the inside, I would sleep all day if I could, food doesn’t taste good or feel good, bad taste in mouth, constant headaches, can’t do anything at my job. I know there’s always a more natural way to everything which this site has shown. Is there any more natural ways and less restrictive diet plans to help insulin resistance or pre-diabetes? I feel like going cold turkey on anything isn’t helpful. Please advise.

  10. Dina Avatar

    Really good post. Thanks for sharing it. However, I noticed that you didn’t mention that there is a difference between being insulin resistant and having low production of insulin.

    My Endocrinologist informed me the other that my pancreas simply doesn’t produce enough insulin– he said I don’t truly fit into ‘either’ category of Type’s 1 or 2 since I do produce some insulin I’m not Type 1, but since my production is low (and not resistant) I’m not actually Type 2 either. So, being somewhere in-between has me completely baffled as to how to raise my production without throwing off the other hormones.

    Do you know anything about this oddity? Thanks so much!

  11. Ashley Avatar

    Thank you for this post. My parents both suffer from Type II and my mom recently came across this Diabetes Destroyer thing, but I’m not sure if it’s a scam. I’ve been trying to look into but I’m pretty sure most of the search results I find are paid reviews or scammers (most of the sites promise discounts and have a crazy amount of pop-ups). I’m wondering if anyone has any experience with this program, or if it’s better to show them this post?

  12. Carla Avatar

    Hi Wellnessmama
    thank you for sharing omega 3 is definitely helpful and including rye into your diet, and good proteins like salmon and wallnuts also to stay away from vegetable oils as this causes inflammation, following the right lifestyle and sticking to it can help you lower A1-C and cholesterol levels.

  13. preet mohinder Avatar
    preet mohinder

    can any outer stimulator, stimulate our Pancreas. I got a many ball stimulator, What do i do in the morning with it?
    I directly place it on my stomach and keep it on for 10 minutes. Is it good or bad?

  14. jerry Avatar

    not all fruit juice is “bad” – i have a nutri bullet and it helps immensely.

    also, quinoa is a seed and is supposed to help blood glucose levels….you say grains are evil but, i read that oatmeal is very good for pre-diabetes.

    1. Rebecca Avatar

      Yes I too am curious about this. Please advise. I would also like some daily meal plans to help reverse my prediabetic state and promote weight loss. It is a relatively unfamiliar territory for me. Thank you from Bec (Queensland)

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