Expert: How diabetics can get their disease under control without medication

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In diabetes live permanently without medication? This is how it can go!
Around seven million people in Germany suffer from diabetes mellitus – often referred to as diabetes. Approximately 95 percent of people with diabetes suffer from type 2 diabetes. A large proportion of these people are dependent on medication on a daily basis. But there are also ways for diabetics to get by largely without medication. In a recent study, researchers tested promising ways of enabling people with diabetes to live without constant medication.

Experts from the German Diabetes Society comment on a study published in the journal “The Lancet”. The study results show how people with diabetes can succeed in living without medication in the long term. According to the experts, those affected in particular who have developed diabetes as a result of overweight and obesity have a good chance of living without medication by changing their lifestyle habits.

Nutrition has a massive influence on the course of the disease
“The German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach already recognised in 1850 that “man is what he eats”. As the clinical study in “Lancet” proves, diabetics with obesity can manage the metabolic disease without medication by changing their diet and exercising physically. Professor Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer, head of the clinical working group at the German Centre for Diabetes Research (DZD), explains which measures are particularly effective for which patients.

Overweight can cause diabetes
“People with type 2 diabetes suffer from insulin resistance, i.e. their pancreas produces insulin, but it is released in too small amounts or no longer acts sufficiently on the target cells,” explains Pfeiffer in a press release. In addition to a genetic predisposition, obesity also promotes resistance because the organs and muscles become fatty.

With the right diet and exercise away from the syringe
As the study shows, with a calorie-reduced and healthy diet and sufficient exercise, patients with type 2 diabetes can improve their insulin resistance again and thus no longer be dependent on medication. “A calorie-reduced food and movement crank up the fat burn in the organs, like the liver, and the musculature and increase their insulin sensitivity again , explain the professor. In the treatment of type 2 diabetes, nutritional therapy and increased physical activity are therefore the top priorities.

About the study
The study published in “The Lancet” accompanied 298 overweight patients with type 2 diabetes. The subjects participated in an intensive weight loss programme aimed at reducing their weight by 15 kilograms or more. Approximately half of the participants achieved this goal and reaped enormous health benefits: Their sugar metabolism normalized. The more weight they lost, the greater the benefits. With 15 kg weight loss the diabetes symptoms decreased with 85 per cent of the participants, with ten kg weight reduction showed 50 per cent a clear improvement. Already starting from five kilos less on the ribs an improvement adjusted itself with 20 per cent.

A way of life that pays off
“The prospect of getting diabetes type 2 under control without medication or insulin injections is a high motivation for those affected,” says Pfeiffer. Nevertheless, many patients find it difficult to achieve a long-term life change. This makes it all the more important to offer these patients an intensive weight reduction programme within the first five years of diagnosis.

15 kilograms of weight loss are promising
“Our experience shows that the easiest way to achieve such a large reduction in weight is with a formula food,” advises the expert. With this strongly calorie-reduced diet, only 500 to 800 calories are consumed per day. Thus in eight to twelve weeks with over 90 per cent of the cases a weight reduction of 15 kilograms or more can be achieved. In addition the Formulanahrung ensures all essential nutrients. In order to keep the weight, an intensive aftercare program with a change in diet to a healthy diet is necessary.

Permanent change in lifestyle habits
However, the decrease in symptoms, i.e. the remission of diabetes, does not mean that it is completely cured. “We speak of remission when the symptoms of a disease are attenuated until normalization – this can be both temporary and permanent,” adds Professor Dr. med. Jens Aberle of the German Diabetes Society. There is a danger that type 2 diabetes will return after a certain period of time.

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