April 1st, 2010
08:00 AM ET

How quickly can I control my diabetes with diet and exercise?

As a feature of CNNhealth.com, our team of expert doctors will answer readers' questions. Here's a question for Dr. Gupta.

From Anthony, Burnsville, Minnesota

“I am a type 2 diabetic. If I eat right and exercise regularly, how long will it take to get my diabetic problems under control?”


Anthony, the last part of that question, “getting my diabetic problems under control” is different from saying curing or fixing my diabetes. Being realistic in terms of what you can achieve is very important.

With diabetes, your pancreas isn’t working. It is not producing enough insulin, or, because of your weight, the insulin simply isn’t working well. The blood sugars start to rise in diabetes. That can be a real problem.

There are a lot of studies looking at people who are diabetic, obese and on medications trying to figure out if they start to make some simple lifestyle changes, how long would it take for them to be able to get off the insulin. One study showed that people who ate a high-fiber, low-fat diet including unsaturated fats, and started exercising for 45 minutes a day, were actually able to go into remission in about three weeks. Remission meaning, clearly, they did not need the insulin for a period of time. Diabetes still wasn’t cured – if they stopped those important lifestyle changes, the insulin need would return again. You have to make lifestyle changes and stick with them to get yourself under control with diabetes, so eat right and exercise.

soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Earl Dukerschein

    There is no quick fix. You have to work at it for the rest of your life. Lets say you find the "perfect" diet and exercise regimen, you will get tired of it after a while and have to invent the next one.

    April 5, 2010 at 23:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Richard S.

    I know this technique works. On January 1 of this year I went on a new food regimen (my wife hates the word diet) with the aid of my wife. On today's date April 6 by just reducing my intake of foods I had been eating all along, and by moving around more I've lost a total of 33 pounds. I'm using 55% less insulin, and I've lost about 5 inches in girth. I'm feeling better with less leg and foot pain, have more energy and intend to lose another 80 pound or so (I was a real chubbo!) Have faith that you can do it too. I am 69 years young and at an age where losing weight is supposed to be difficult I am doing it. Best of luck in you doing it too.

    April 6, 2010 at 12:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Brian K.

    Richard S. ~ Congratulations! 33 lbs. this year is a big step, keep up the good work.

    April 8, 2010 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Laura

    I am not diabetic, but when my blood work came back with "borderline" results, I took quick action due to the fact that diabetes is rampant in my family.

    I switched to natural foods, increased my vegetable intake, and reduced my intake of processed foods and sweets. I also started jogging.

    Two months later, I returned for a check-up. A new doctor was assigned to me, and as she reviewed my blood work, she exclaimed, "wow, are you a runner? Only runners get these kinds of numbers." I was happy to answer yes, and explained my history. The change was amazing. Not only am I not borderline, I am completely in the ideal end of the number ranges.

    Some things I've learned:

    After a week or so of complete avoidance of fast food and other junk, you stop craving that stuff. You also begin to get sick at the smell of McDonald's. Same for sweets.

    Don't even try shopping at "normal" supermarkets. All they sell is junk that will throw you off. Be diligent about shopping at places that focus on natural foods. Sprout's sells natural foods at affordable prices.

    Despite the fact that I didn't think I was sick before, I now feel more energetic and have a more positive attitude in general.

    It's a lifestyle change with a lifetime commitment, and it's worth it.

    The website http://www.phlaunt.com/diabetes/ is very informative and helpful as well.

    Good luck!

    April 8, 2010 at 14:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. eileen

    my husband has been struggling trying to get his sugar under control. he takes meds and started insulin and it still too high. i will give him your advice Richard thanks.

    April 8, 2010 at 15:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Harrison

    i came down with diabetes in NOV2007 and my doctor insisted that i start medications. I refused and began working out and went on a low carb diet following Dr. Bernstein's advice in diabetes solutions. I lost 40 pounds and my A1C went from above 8 to 5.6. My family/friends can't understand this method and my doctor promptly took credit for my medical change. My advice: educate yourself about low carb treatment of diabetes and start moving your body!

    April 22, 2010 at 17:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Alfie Davies

    With current advances in stem cell research, it won't be long before we can find a permanent cure for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. |

    April 28, 2010 at 21:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. james herbert

    My girlfriend has a part time job at walmart{top sales person in vision dept.}.Her problem is osteoarthritis.Her health ins.cant or wont help her get the care she needs(shoulder replacement}She loves to go to work every day.now the only way to get health care is to go on disability.my question is how can she get the care she needs and keep her job?she loves her job but is being forced to quit to get the care she needs.how can she get her operation and keep her job?or is this her only option or isthier a program to help her keep her job and get the care she needs?

    June 19, 2010 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
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    October 20, 2010 at 09:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. rep

    Read the book by Dr. Richard Bernstein on how to control blood sugar. Stop eating carbs and eat more protein. In about 8 weeks I dropped 21 pounds and my A1C went from 8.2 to 6.9 and it is working. I am taking 1/3 the insulin I was taking before.
    If I can stay focused and not incrementally add to portions, I expect to lose about 2 pounds per week and lose another 20 pounds before the end of the year. Good news is I am not hungry and rarely have a craving for "chocolate" any more.

    October 28, 2010 at 17:18 | Report abuse | Reply
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    August 24, 2011 at 07:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. kasturi sarkar

    Hi I'm Kasturi. How I control my sugar? My age 34+I'm also paitent of Thyroyed. How I control my this??pls help me.

    June 29, 2012 at 02:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. kasturi sarkar

    Hi I'm a paitent of diabetes.how I control it?

    June 29, 2012 at 02:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. sailesh singh

    i am diabetic for last three months,i started with 187 fasting but that night before fasting check up i had about 250 gram of indian sweet (kaju ki barfi) . now for few week i am checking fasting its below 95 . i m taking one diabeta 500mg SR . I cant understand wht next i should do, sometime i think my diabetes is cure or its controled.....

    December 18, 2012 at 08:32 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.