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From Sacramento, California, USA:

I have type 2 diabetes treated with diet and exercise, and my last hemoglobin A1c was 7.1%. From your experience, what is the longest time a person can control type 2 diabetes with exercise and diet alone? I know everyone is different, but just generally.


Diabetes is a journey, not a destination. For people with type 2 diabetes, that journey is preset at birth from genetics and involves insulin resistance for many and a slowdown in the ability of the pancreas to make insulin. I don't think anyone is willing to predict how long that journey is for any one person.

Starting early with daily exercise will improve the insulin resistance, which in turn will decrease the need for high amounts of insulin production. Eating a healthy diet filled with moderate amounts of carbs, lots of veggies and fiber, and being aware of carbohydrate amounts at each meal, will also lower the need for insulin production. All of these healthy habits are good for all people, not just those with diabetes. However, to predict how long the pancreas will be able to produce insulin would be impossible.

It is more important is to focus on how the blood sugar is responding. Testing before a meal and one to two hours afterward will let you know if there is the match between available insulin and foods eaten. The goals of diabetes management from the beginning are to maintain near normal blood sugars. For many, that means adding medicines and insulins along the way. This does not mean that the healthy lifestyle isn't working, rather that the pancreas has slowed down in it's ability to produce insulin. Research shows this to be expected over time. No one can predict how long that will take.


Original posting 29 Aug 2001
Posted to Type 2


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