Medically Reviewed By: Tom Iarocci, MD

Today diabetes is recognized as a serious and rising problem throughout the world. In fact, it is an epidemic, with an estimated 29.1 million Americans suffering from it. Diabetes is characterized medically by the presence of abnormally high blood glucose levels, as detected using a variety of different tests. A “fasting” blood glucose level means that you should not have any caloric intake in the 8 – 12 hours before the test. Diabetes is diagnosed at fasting levels higher of 126 mg/dL or higher, but the road to type 2 diabetes starts long before levels reach this high. People with ranges between 100-125 are considered to be pre-diabetic, whereas ranges under 99 mg/dl are considered to be “normal.” Studies are now finding that glucose levels that are below 83 mg/dl actually may be a better benchmark, as the risk of diabetes often increases at anything above that. Fortunately, there may be opportunities for reversing diabetes with natural treatment strategies and therapies.

Reversing Diabetes:

The good news for people suffering from type 2 diabetes is that for some people it is possible to start reversing diabetes without medication. There are many good steps that can help with this process. On the road to diabetes, often your body becomes more and more resistant to the action of insulin, so reversing or halting this process is one key step. Another is getting your fats, or lipids, in balance. Fats called triglycerides, in particular, are often elevated when you have diabetes. You can reduce your triglycerides by following a healthier, lower calorie diet, exercising regularly and cutting down on your alcohol consumption.

Other natural products are sometimes recommended as part of the overall effort to improve nutrition and lose weight. Stevia, or rebiana, for instance, is a highly purified product that comes from the stevia plant and is several hundred times sweeter than sugar. It has the FDA designation “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS. According to the FDA, stevia leaf and crude stevia extracts, however, are not considered GRAS and do not have FDA approval for use in food. Some supplements and food additives have more supportive evidence than others, so do your homework before buying.

Exercising and Losing Excess Weight:

A good way to facilitate reversing diabetes with natural therapies is to have regular exercise. Exercise helps to increase the muscles' ability to use insulin and can assist with reversing the insulin resistance that contributes to type 2 diabetes in the first place. Of course, all exercise isn't created equal. The best exercise for diabetes is the one that you do and do regularly. Frequent, moderate-intensity exercise is often suggested for people with diabetes, and physical activity can definitely help you lose extra weight, which is an important factor since obesity and type 2 diabetes often go hand in hand. On top of that, exercise can help to reduce stress, a state of mind and a physiologic condition that tends to work against your best diabetes prevention plans. Working to reduce your natural sources of stress and making sure that you get enough sleep can both go a long way toward your success.