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.

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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.