Is There a Cure for Type 2 Diabetes?

You cannot cure diabetes, but you might be able to reverse it or put it into remission with lifestyle changes. This article discusses the steps you can take to go into type 2 diabetes remission.

A person with long black hair checking their insulin at home with a glucometer.

Igor Alecsander / Getty Images

What Is Diabetes Reversal?

Type 2 diabetes is considered chronic, meaning that it is a lifelong condition. However, new research has found that diabetes reversal is possible if you take steps to stabilize your blood sugar (glucose) levels.

Diabetes reversal means there has been a major improvement in how your body responds to insulin. It means your blood sugar levels are in a healthy range without using diabetes medications.

The measure used to diagnose diabetes is hemoglobin A1c, which shows the average glucose level in the blood over two or three months. People with diabetes have an A1C of 6.5% or higher. Studies have shown that if a person with type 2 diabetes can get under that level, they have successfully reversed the condition.

Eat a Nutritious Diet

Diet and diabetes go hand in hand. While diet does not directly cause type 2 diabetes, it does play a role. Eating a certain way can increase a person’s risk of developing diabetes.

Since your diet increases your risk and influences your blood sugar levels, it’s suggested that managing what you eat can effectively help you reverse type 2 diabetes.

Control Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates get broken down into glucose by the body. When you eat a diet that is very high in carbohydrates, your glucose levels can rise significantly. In people with diabetes, a dangerously high blood sugar level can occur if they eat too many carbohydrates.

However, eating a diet low in carbohydrates may have the opposite effect, and may contribute to diabetes remission. Studies have shown that people who lower their carbohydrate intake to less than 50 grams a day may achieve remission. It is important to note, however, that many studies on low-carb diets and diabetes reversal do not have long-term results.

Can the Keto Diet Cause Diabetes Remission?

Keto diets are low-carb, high-fat, and high-protein. While more research is needed on the health benefits of this eating pattern, some studies have suggested that people with type 2 diabetes might be able to reverse the condition by following the keto diet.  

Reduce Sugar Intake

Foods that are high in sugar raise blood glucose levels significantly. Reducing your intake of these types of foods may also help with diabetes reversal.

If a person with type 2 diabetes reduces their sugar intake, their liver can detoxify and reverse fatty liver, which in turn may improve diabetes. As mentioned above, low-carbohydrate diets are favorable when trying to go into remission.

Be More Active

It's recommended that most people engage in regular exercise, even if they do not have diabetes. However, for people with type 2 diabetes, physical activity can help their bodies respond better to insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that helps sugar in the blood get into cells so that they can use it for energy. When the body does not utilize insulin properly, glucose that is meant to be used for energy stays in the blood and causes problems.

Exercise can help with diabetes reversal by:

  • Helping the body use the insulin it has to transfer glucose into cells to be used for energy
  • Lowering blood glucose levels by depleting sugar storage in the blood
  • Helping organs, such as the liver and pancreas, release unnecessary fat stores that compromise the body's ability to use insulin

Exercise with Diabetes

The best exercises to engage in if you have diabetes are moderate activities that do not involve heavy lifting, straining, or rigorous movements. Walking, lifting using light weights, yoga, swimming, and stretching are all great exercises for someone with the condition.

Take Insulin if Needed

Reversing diabetes through lifestyle changes can be done, but you may still need to take insulin from time to time. Remission does not equal a cure, and diabetes can get worse if left untreated. During the reversal period, you may not need insulin at all. However, if your blood sugar levels spike or if your diabetes is severely uncontrolled, you will need insulin.

It’s essential not to lose hope for an improved quality of life. Taking insulin when needed is just as crucial as making lifestyle changes that can lead to diabetes reversal.

Can You Have a Setback After Diabetes is Reversed?

Diabetes is a lifelong disease that can change over time. Your blood glucose levels can increase following the reversal of the condition. Staying in remission will require you to manage your blood sugar by sticking with lifestyle modifications and continuing to see your healthcare provider for follow-ups to stay on top of any changes in your health.

Monitor Your Blood Sugar

Even in remission, monitoring your blood sugar levels regularly is key. It will help you can keep track of any upticks and manage them effectively.

It's easier for someone with diabetes to experience high blood sugar levels, so you’ll want to make sure that any spikes are caught early. That way, you can make changes or take medication as needed to prevent a dangerously high blood sugar level.

Manage Your Weight

Losing weight with diabetes can be challenging, but it is often one of the first steps a person can take to manage the disease more effectively. For some people, weight loss can be achieved through exercise and eating a nutritious diet.

Bariatric surgery can also be an effective option for some people living with type 2 diabetes. This is an umbrella term used to describe surgeries that help decrease how much food a person can eat. It is typically used for people with obesity.

Research has shown that as many as 80% of people who have bariatric surgery experience a total reversal of their diabetes, with another 15% having a partial reversal. Of the people who achieved diabetes remission with bariatric surgery, 83% remained that way for at least 10 years.

Is Bariatric Surgery Right for You?

People with obesity and type 2 diabetes are typically good candidates for bariatric surgery. Still, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about the possible risks and benefits of the surgery. They will be able to give you an idea of a reasonable outcome so that you can consider the pros and cons.

Work With Your Healthcare Provider

While lifestyle medicine is not typically first-line therapy for managing diabetes, recent research is showing it can be an important component of reversing the condition.

To reverse your diabetes effectively, you need to work with your healthcare provider. Together, you and your provider can come up with a personalized treatment plan that works for you. They may or may not prescribe medication based on your goals and current state of health.


While type 2 diabetes is considered incurable, it is possible to achieve remission and reverse the effects of the disease.

Making specific lifestyle changes, such as eating a nutritious diet that's low in carbs and exercising regularly, can help. For some people, weight loss or even bariatric surgery can be a beneficial step in reversing diabetes. Your healthcare provider may also recommend medications for you to take in combination with making lifestyle changes to help you achieve diabetes remission.

A Word From Verywell

Type 2 diabetes can be challenging to cope with since there is no cure. Having it for the rest of your life can be an overwhelming thought. However, you might be able to reverse the condition if you take certain steps.

The goal of going into remission from diabetes might help you stay motivated to make lifestyle changes, but if you're finding it challenging, reach out to your provider for support.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does it take to reverse type 2 diabetes?

    There is no set time for diabetes reversal; the timeline can be different for everyone. It depends on the measures you take and how deliberate you are in your choices. If a person is consistent with their lifestyle changes, they might be able to see the beginnings of remission within three to six months.

  • Can you cure diabetes without medication?

    There is no cure for diabetes but remission is possible. Putting diabetes into remission may limit the need for insulin or other medications. However, that does not mean a person will never have to take medication for their diabetes again. Diabetes can change over time, so complete remission can last without a prescription. However, a person may still need to take insulin or other therapies as a supplemental management tool.

  • How can you reduce your sugar intake?

    Sugar is in many foods, and you may not always be aware of it. Some foods that you would not see as sweet can contain sugar. To reduce your sugar intake, you can:

    • Stop using table sugar
    • Drink water or herbal tea instead of juices, pops, or other drinks with added sugar
    • Limit your fruit intake
    • Choose low-carbohydrate foods (they often contain added sugars)
6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Family Doctor. Diabetes.

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By Angelica Bottaro
Angelica Bottaro is a professional freelance writer with over 5 years of experience. She has been educated in both psychology and journalism, and her dual education has given her the research and writing skills needed to deliver sound and engaging content in the health space.